Up until a few months ago, I had not been to a movie theater since leaving California. It's not that I don't love movies; I do- I just don't have big feelings about having to see things immediately...except when it's a subject matter close to my heart; like struggling writers, passionate cooks, and copious amounts of butter. So when they started running trailers for Julie and Julia, I knew I couldn't wait for the DVD. I better back up. Hotchkiss does not have a movie theater- but nine miles down the road, in the town of Paonia is the Paradise theater- which is now on my top ten list of the coolest places ever. Forget those multi-plex numbers...this is a community theater in every sense of the word. Besides showing movies, the Paradise has a stage for live performances, shows art films, football games, holds special events for kids, and even has first run movies. Wait... it gets better.
So maybe we didn't get to see Julie and Julia right away...and maybe first run movies don't have the extended run schedules they do in larger markets (you'd better catch something the first week it's out, because most likely, there won't be a second week) But the experience watching a movie in a small theatre where the owner welcomes you, sells you a ticket, serves refreshments (real popcorn with real butter and also they have a liquor license so you can have a glass of wine or a beer!) completely outshines the super-major-cineplex-experience any day of the week.
We were getting settled in our seats when I looked around and discovered the guy behind us had his dog on his lap. "Wow, you can bring your dog here!" I exclaimed to my husband, not realizing I was loud enough for dog-guy to hear. The guy with the dog shrugged his shoulders and nodded to the dog, explaining, "Zack has separation issues."
All I can say is that Zack-the-dog exhibited better manners than 50% of the movie-goers I remember from my cineplex experiences. Zack didn't talk through the movie. Zack obviously turned off his cell phone, and he didn't spend two hours texting his dog-girlfriend, he refrained from throwing popcorn in my hair, kicking the back of my seat, and he didn't barf on my shoes- all of which have happened at big suburban theater complexes over the years. (maybe that's why I prefer DVD's) But seriously- how cool is it that a guy can bring a well-behaved dog to the movie with him, and no one has a problem with it?
Dogs do occupy a special place in the culture here. You won't see foofy little dogs parked in pink handbags much in Hotchkiss-(don't get me wrong- I am madly in love with a foofy little dog) but folks here hold their dogs in very high regard. Example: if you go to the drive-through bank line with your dog in your car, when the teller completes your transaction, you'll also find a dog treat coming at you through the pneumatic tube. Dogs here tend to be working dogs, in fact one of the annual events that draws crowds into town are the Sheep Dog Trials, where working sheep dogs demonstrate that they are, in fact, smarter than most of the members of Congress.
My mother has long maintained that when residents of Delta County purchase new pick-up trucks, they are offered Golden Retrievers as part of an option package. (Power steering, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, golden retriever, premium sound package....)
And this is a good thing. You can tell a lot about a society by the way animals are treated. The animals here may work hard, but they have lots of treats and are very, very well entertained.