Saturday afternoon Kish and I went to see a movie. The tickets cost us $10 a pop. $10 to see a movie? We’ve apparently crossed one of those product cost thresholds; theaters must feel there is no longer meaningful price resistance to two-figure ticket prices.
We shelled out the $20, but I found myself wondering about high school and college kids looking for the proverbial cheap date. Unless you go to a second-run $1 cinema (with the change in price thresholds, maybe now it’s a $5 cinema) going to the movies certainly doesn’t qualify. Between $20 for tickets and the standard inflated candy, popcorn, and soda prices, going to the movies has become an expensive proposition. In this time of high unemployment among young people, how many kids have $35 to blow on a few hours entertainment?
Bowling is a perennial cheap date option — but many bowling alleys have gone upscale, with video screens, elaborate sound systems, disco balls overhead, and strobe lights down the lanes, and the prices for a game have increased as a result. And you’ve got to drive there, which means you’re burning some of that $4 a gallon gas. During the fall you can go to home football games on your student ID and make do with reasonably priced food from the band booster concession stand, but what do you do the other 47 weekends of the year?
I’m guessing that kids these days spend a lot of time in their parents’ houses, watching videos and playing video games. Having somebody over to your parents’ house seems more like awkward hanging out than a date; I always thought the appearance as a couple in public, where your friends could see you together, was an integral part of the true dating experience. Staying at your parents and sponging their food doesn’t exactly seem calculated to produce much self-respect on the part of the would-be couple — and it’s got to be exhausting for parents who have to come up with lame excuses to go down to the basement every five minutes or so to make sure nothing untoward is going on down there.
Maybe modern would-be Romeos and Juliets are just resigned to making do with less, or maybe they just “go Dutch.” Either way, it’s too bad. There was fun and inner value in the cheap date; I always felt good when I took my girlfriend out and paid for her movie and popcorn out of my own pocket, from my earnings at whatever job I had at the time. I always thought my girlfriend appreciated being treated, too. It’s sad to think those positive feelings aren’t being experienced by today’s jobless, house-bound youth.