The films are only a few months past release (admission is $5), and R-rated ones are fine. As nudity and violence unfold on the screen, fathers stand in the back and bounce their babies, or hurry to the bathroom to change diapers, with a stop in the lobby to get a beer. Everyone is a bit tipsy—except the babies, unless alcohol converts into breast milk that quickly—and drunk on the intoxicating fact that we are here, at a movie!
Each week a babyless couple shows up not knowing it's "Baby Brigade." They swivel their heads—surrounded and confused—like a pair of spring-break vacationers who've wandered into a gospel tent revival. They were looking to make out and have a romantic evening, and what the hell is this? To us, this has become normal. We're regulars. Good movie, bad movie, doesn't matter. In fact, it's better if the movie is bad because then we don't care if we miss dialogue when the baby behind us screams.
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Zoë likes the car chases. Comedy, however, seems to freak her out. And romance, with its long, meaningful pauses and slow kissing scenes, is the worst. Romance drives her nuts. I'll be watching two attractive actors making out in a stylish Paris apartment and find myself wishing that a SWAT team would crash through the window, because if nothing else is blowing up, Zoë will.
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Tonight, in the middle of one such explosion, I take Zoë out to the lobby, past the row of fathers bouncing their babies, to get another glass of wine. On my way back, I spot the babyless couple. I had noticed them earlier. The man was thin and handsome, with trendy glasses he kept taking off to wipe clean, as if he couldn't believe what was going on around him. The woman was blonde and curvy and slumped low in her seat like she wanted to disappear. They weren't touching each other at first, keeping some space between them as if they might conceive if they got any closer. But now they're making out. They're hardly watching the movie. Her hand is playing in his lap; his hand is slung around her neck and moving lightly over her breast, fingering the top button on her shirt.