Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: Who Moves the Moviegoer?

Every week, Mallory and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: Is it obligatory to switch seats in a movie theater?



Mallory: wow, NO MERCY from Nicole Cliffe

you’re the nice one of the two of us! I genuinely expected a softer answer

Nicole: Oh, hang on, by “move down” do they mean like, to the right?”

Mallory: I think “move down” means “move within the row”

Nicole: Because I was interpreting it as going down to a different aisle

Mallory: No, but it sounds like it meant they had to start sitting next a stranger who coughed a lot, which is a bummer, but if the people had sat down next to them that might have happened regardless

wait, is “arrive in time” a Canadian thing?

or did you mean to say “on time”

Nicole: I would totally move within the row if they were polite

but you can’t insist on that

I would never go to a different row for a bunch of latecomers

Mallory: is that like “standing on line”

because every 1 out of 100 times that someone is talking about lines they will call it “standing on line” and I become disoriented and hostile

Nicole: oh, it was definitely an autocorrect

Mallory: is it only in New York that people say that? like, WHENCE AND WHEREFORE that phrase?

Nicole: yep, that’s the only place I’ve ever heard it in the wild

Mallory: the only reason I think you SHOULD move seats in a movie theater is if it’s a matter of accessibility, everything else is optional

or if you’re feeling generous, like a Roman emperor allowing a gladiator to survive the arena

Nicole: or maybe a kid, but only AT a kids’ movie

I’m not moving at Ragnarok for some kid

although look, you know me, I would move even if a total jerk asked me

but I am outraged for OTHERS

Mallory: I mean, some of this is just the problem of living in the world

sometimes in life you have to share an armrest and life is a series of petty indignities and you can’t fully control for or avoid that

me, the second someone coughs near me: I am a member of American Gothic, a stoic and quiet people who toil in the fields by day and sleep soundly a’night, life is suffering and I take solace in the words of John Calvin, all things are immutable

Nicole: Everyone needs assigned seating, LIKE WE SENSIBLY HAVE HERE IN UTAH

Mallory: no one has ever asked me to move seats and now I feel like I’m missing out

Nicole: Assigned seating is the best


Nicole: I know what needs to be done.

Nicole Cliffe lives with her husband and three children in Sandy, Utah. She is the co-founder of the Toast and has written for the Guardian, Christianity Today, New York, and the Morning News.
Mallory Ortberg, Slate’s Dear Prudence, is co-founder of the Toast and the author of Texts From Jane Eyre.