I love going to the movies. My “woulda-coulda-shoulda” career choice is that of film critic. I think everyone’s allowed at least one woulda-coulda-shoulda when it comes to making a living and mine is movie reviewer.

It’s perfect when you think about it. It combines my love of movies with my passion for writing, not to mention my fondness for giving others my opinion. And I could work despite my disabilities. From home. Like Roger Ebert, who still gives his thumbs up or down after a cancer battle took away his ability to speak, eat or drink. Besides, have you read some of the reviews out there?

The only problem (and it’s a big one) is I know nothing about film. Not the history of it. Not the making of it. Just the little I recall from a film appreciation class I took in college. But I do appreciate it. Every aspect of it. From the red carpet and who’s who celebrity madness to the technique and art of telling a good story on film. Which is why I like to hit the box office around once a week, depending on what’s playing.

Becoming a disabled movie-goer has its pros and cons. First on the pro side is, of course, the parking. You would think obtaining rock star status would have calmed me some, but no. I’m even worse about getting there early. My mother and I often sit in bright, empty theaters while the ushers sweep popcorn off the floor from earlier showings.  Our own personal “First Look.”

Something my mother calls a pro that I list as a con, is the discount. It’s a little known fact that a handicapped person plus one can get in for the price of one. The “assistant” gets in free. I guess the idea is that the disabled person might have wanted to go by themselves and shouldn’t have to pay double just because they visit the restroom and need help. (Me, I avoid all liquid consumption, especially the super-sized $10 sodas.)

Unfortunately, this discount is also a little known fact to virtually every theater employee with the exception of management. I can usually be found cringing as some ticket-seller requests a manager over the sound system, much to the dismay of the people in line behind us. He or she then loudly asks if “the handicapped,” i.e. me, get a discount. It’s like being at the drugstore when some loudmouthed cashier asks for a price check on your foot fungal cream.

It’s a definite con when the handicapped seats are in the very front row. No sane person wants to watch a movie like they’re watching a game of tennis just to follow an on-screen conversation. Imagine the crick in your neck!  I won’t do it.  If I’m with two people, I’ll climb the stairs, one arm wrapped around each person’s shoulders. If there’s only two of us, I’ll “butt up” (I hope that’s self-explanatory.) Another reason to get there early and avoid subjecting fellow patrons to that.

One time I climbed, with the help of my mother and a friend. My mother brought up the wheelchair, since it fit down the aisle and we could get to “prime viewing location” (the exact middle.) In an otherwise empty theater, would you believe a couple carrying snacks galore came and sat in the row directly behind us? My mother actually turned around and said. “I’m sorry, but what exactly is the thought process here?” No response. They sat there while we moved, carrying out the whole production of me transferring back into the wheelchair. I told my mom they were probably scared to move because they thought she was a serial killer.

If all else fails and I’m stuck in the first row, I’ll ask for my money back. Price check on a handicapped refund.