'We Don't Give Out That Information'

We had recently shown "Bottle Rocket" as a midnight movie, and he was asking Tony if ticket sales had been good. Tony obviously had no idea who he was.

During that transitional summer between high school and college, I worked at Dallas's only independent movie theater. The theater was an old one, converted from one grand space into three smaller screens, with a painted mural on the ceiling and a smoky bar sharing the lobby space.

My coworkers were mostly local community-college students, whom I looked up to and who respected me for having decent taste in movies. We watched everything that came through the theater, including the campy or obscure choices for the midnight movies on weekends.

The theater's manager, however, was older, seemed to have no interest in film itself, and probably watched only a fraction of the movies that we screened. Managing the theater was his job, and that was that. One Saturday morning, he and I were getting ready to open. I was sweeping the lobby, and I believe he was getting the box office set up, when someone opened the front door.

Tony ran over to shoo the interloper away; we weren't going to open for another 20 minutes. While he stood blocking the doorway, I had a clear view over his shoulder. A clear view of Owen Wilson.

His crooked nose and distinctive voice left no doubt in my mind, though he was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap and trying to avoid looking like a Famous Person. We had recently shown _Bottle Rocket_ as a midnight movie, and he was asking Tony if ticket sales had been good. Tony obviously had no idea who he was, and barked back, "We don't give out that kind of information."

Owen tried to sort of hint that he was involved in the movie, but Tony basically shut the door in his face. Then he turned around to see me staring blankly at the door. I explained who our visitor was, and Tony said only, "Oh. Well, if you want to try and find him, be my guest."

I did try. I ran through the shopping center, but it was pointless. I wanted to tell him that _Bottle Rocket_ had sold out both nights and played to a raucously enthusiastic crowd, but unsurprisingly, he wasn't hanging out in the Gap or the Barnes & Noble next door. I went back to the theater, defeated, and took my place behind the concession stand.


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