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movies on a plane

Has this ever happened to you? You’re settled into your comfy reclining seat in Cine 1 enjoying the latest R-rated Hollywood gorefest: limbs are being ripped from bodies, eyeballs are being gouged out, blood is splattering all over the walls in beautiful scarlet patterns that only Dexter could truly appreciate. Or maybe you and the gals have enjoyed a fine box of Cabernet (Target, 2018 vintage!) and things are getting hot and heavy between Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dorman in Fifty Shades of Foreplay, with clothes coming off and black leather whips snapping the air in crisp Dolby Atmos Surround Sound. And then from the row behind you, a young voice asks, “Daddy, what are those people doing?” Egads! What kind of horrible mom or dad would bring their 6-year-old kid to a movie that’s clearly meant only for adults? I’ve seen that much too often, and I’m usually disgusted by the deplorable parenting, but the tables turned the other day on a flight from Milwaukee when I became that awful person. (Not to mean that I became a father.)

There I was, sitting in my aisle seat with my iPad propped on the tray table, bingeing episodes of the very entertaining Showtime series Billions, and out come the boobies! (The character’s, not mine.) I was immediately self-conscious, but figured it was just a flash—surely this is just a nip-slip, here and gone before anyone is the wiser. But no, this character (who, by the way, I never suspected would disrobe) just kept letting it all hang out. PAUSE button! Screen down! What to do? Are there little kids around? Or adults whose sensibilities are more prudish than mine? Not much of a stretch, by the way.

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I’m all in favor of preserving what’s left of our eroding courtesy and civility, but I was also stuck on a four-hour flight, so I popped my big 13-inch screen back up and scrubbed right, furtively glancing around to see who I had offended. What was going to happen—would I just get some nasty looks from my neighbors? Would a flight attendant come by to scold me? Or would I be caught up in one of those awful viral videos as a sky marshal took me down and zip-tied my hands behind my back? Fortunately, nary a word was spoken, nor a stink-eye aimed my way. In fact, a couple of minutes later an older gentleman across the aisle leaned over and said, “Billions, eh? My wife and I love that show!” I had gotten away with it, but not without learning a valuable lesson: When in public, pay attention to those little notices at the beginning of each episode warning of nudity, extreme violence and the like. They’re there for a reason.

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