another standby line at the BNAT

Last year was the first time I tried to get into the 24-hour film marathon known as the Butt-Numb-a-Thon (BNAT for short), by waiting in the standby line on the morning of the event. I wrote an essay about the standby line; it’s one of my favorites, so please go read it if you haven’t already.
The standby line was lots of fun in a film-geeky way, so I thought I’d try my luck again this year. Even if I didn’t get into BNAT, I could hang out with some other friends I knew would be in the line, and maybe meet some new film geeks. The time to line up for standby was an hour later this year, too, which was nice.
After seeing the sorts of things people brought to last year’s BNAT to help survive 24 hours in a theater, I decided to be prepared on the off-chance that I would actually get in. I cleaned out my purse, and had to remove my phone and camera. Suddenly the purse was twice as light as it ever had been. I filled the empty spaces with a small bag of clean socks and underwear, a spare toothbrush and travel toothpaste, and a tin of Altoids Tangerine Sours because those are great for keeping me awake. I also brought a blanket roll, the kind you take to picnics or Jazz Fest or whatever, which I figured could double as a pillow. I tried not to think about the fact that I was probably fussing over nothing. Last year, 45 people were in line, and maybe 15 got in.

I found some very lucky street parking about a half-block from the theater, and arrived at Alamo Drafthouse Downtown around 11 am. (We were advised to get there at 11:15.) There were already about 25 people in line. I saw Micah almost immediately and went to stand in line with him. The tickets would be picked by lottery, so actual place in line didn’t matter. I spent the next 45 minutes chatting with Micah, the two women standing behind us, and various friends who had reserved seats for BNAT. Micah is from Dallas and had flown into Austin especially for the event, even though he was in the standby line — he’d managed to get a standby seat in 2005. He was staying with a friend who already had a reserved seat.
About 40 people ended up in the standby line this year. The conversation wasn’t nearly as geeky as last year, and we all seemed a little more subdued. This may be because of the weather, which was gray and colder than last year. At any rate, I don’t have any fascinating standby line stories to tell this year (so why are you writing this, Jette?). We were standing in front of the tres trendy restaurant next door to Alamo, and took secret amusement in watching very smartly dressed people walk up to the door and find out the place was closed at that hour. And at one point, some guy I didn’t know spontaneously burst into a frightening rendition of the “Transformers” theme song.
Around 11:45 or noon (I usually tell time by my phone, so my times are very shaky), we received tickets for the lottery. Ten people were picked by lottery from the standby line. Micah, myself, and the two women behind us were still outside. At least the guy from Miami got in. I watched one guy get picked, then give the ticket to his girlfriend, and everyone nearby said “awwww.” We were told that there might still be a few seats available so no one left, although I was dubious about my chances. Micah started pondering whether he might take an earlier flight back to Dallas. Part of me was relieved; spending 24 hours in a theater on a weekend in December is not a smart idea if you’re working during the day and haven’t had time for gift shopping or holiday cards or any of the usual chores on the pre-holiday list. I had managed to take out the pink and sparkly tree, but not to decorate it. (We’re starting to actually like the minimalist look of the unadorned tree, though.) I started calculating the stuff I ought to do over the weekend.
Three guys walked up to the front of the Alamo and were admitted. The standby folks muttered and groaned. The guys surely had tickets or were VIPs of some kind, but it meant fewer available seats for us. Finally, someone from Alamo appeared to tell us that there was exactly ONE seat left. We all looked at our tickets while the last number was drawn for the last seat. Would it be the guy who had switched tickets with his sweetie? One of the two women I’d been talking with? I looked down at my ticket, my head still full of Christmas card lists and where to have lunch after the lottery ended, and realized I’d just heard the number that matched the one on my ticket. I was in complete disbelief and minor shock, but still automatically squealed a bit and rushed up to the box office to buy the ticket. I ended up sitting on the side, on one of those tall barstools with a slight chairback, but it didn’t matter.
I was still in disbelief even as I settled my things under the table, sat down, and looked at the screen. The first movie had just started, and Samuel L. Jackson was having a heated discussion with a well-dressed woman. I turned to the other guy at the table and whispered, “What is this?” (The BNAT lineup is not announced ahead of time.) He replied that he didn’t know the title, but it was directed by that Hustle and Flow guy. There I was, still marveling at the last-minute miracle that got me into my first BNAT, and the opening movie was one I’d been looking forward to seeing, Black Snake Moan.
(More to come about BNAT later, either here or elsewhere, after I’ve had a good night’s sleep and can sit down for longer periods of time without my butt hurting. They call it BNAT for a good reason.)

2 thoughts on “another standby line at the BNAT”

  1. Woo hoo Jette! Can’t wait to hear about Black Snake Moan (and how the man is going to flip over it — I hope), and how hot everyone in 300 is. Among other things.

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