I decide to drive them because, let’s face it, cinema chairs are pretty comfortable and free furniture for my room is always welcome.

On the way to Zevenaar it quickly becomes clear that my brother lacks confidence in my driving skills. I am not allowed to turn up the volume of the music and he checks whether I’ve hit anyone at every turn. When I’m about to merge onto the motorway, he says: “Watch out, there are cars.”

We pick up my brother’s friend. He has an impressive bench record at the gym and has quite a low voice. He’d be intimidating if it weren’t for his short stature. I sometimes wonder how he builds muscle, since he’s allergic to milk and wheat, and on top of this decided to become a vegetarian, meaning he can barely eat anything.

We arrive, park the car and make our way to the cinema. However, we are greeted by a daunting queue that would make any rational human being turn around. It seems like half the region’s population has flocked to Zevenaar for a free chair. People are being ushered into the building in small groups, while others exit through a side door. We watch a group of teenagers roll three chairs towards the parking lot, using a board on wheels. “Shit, we didn’t bring a board on wheels!”, my brother exclaims.

An hour passes. The anxious employees of Movie Unlimited Zevenaar survey the crowd as we shuffle cold towards the entrance in the freezing, like clay in a funnel. It reminds me of one of those days in the Efteling theme park when queues are so long you only manage to fit in two attractions all day. Ahead of us, a young girl explains to her father why they might get a chair: “I think they only have a couple of chairs left in the current room, but then they’ll open the next one which is way bigger, and then I think we will probably get a chair then”.

The people behind us share travel stories: “The snack platters in the Netherlands are nothing compared to those in Basque Country. Those are so unbelievably delicious that it almost makes me emotional.”

Another hour and a half passes. I can’t feel my toes anymore. An employee comes out and informs the remaining crowd that there are no chairs left. Desperately, the girl in front of us exclaims: “Are you sure you didn’t miss a room?”

Onno Gieszen 4 columnist 2023_Pauline Wiersema_Levien Willemse

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