Teenage movie ushers bounced three people in Yakima this week who were drinking a bottle of wine while watching Bottle Shock, a film about the early days of California winemaking.
They were the only patrons in the ten-screen multiplex at the time.
The three patrons given the boot were purported wine writer Harris Meyer, who organized the outing and brought the wine, and two other people, who preferred not to give their names (their initials are M.K. and K.K.). A prominent attorney in town (who can see into the future) narrowly escaped the humiliation, begging off the movie claiming he was too tired.
The two other bootees said they had tried to persuade Meyer not to bring wine but that he insisted he had done so in dozens of other movie theaters around the country without incident.
The bibulous trio were thoroughly enjoying the farfetched but entertaining film, and were happily swilling wine (a tart 2006 Syncline Washington state mourvedre, purchased for the bargain price of $14.99) along with the characters on screen, when they noticed a baby-faced usher standing at the side of the theater seemingly absorbed in the movie. To their astonishment, the usher came over and inquired, "Are you drinking wine?" — possibly having been alerted by the Mercy family owners, who own all the theaters in the Yakima Valley, that there was a high risk of illicit wine consumption during showings of Bottle Shock.
The three denied drinking wine despite holding plastic cups with a red liquid in them. The usher then walked over and seized the (fortunately empty) wine bottle and asked the three patrons to leave. When they refused, pleading piteously to be allowed to watch the last half hour of the movie — which featured the famed blind tasting competition between California and French wines — the usher announced that he would call the manager.
The young manager, sporting a Marine haircut, then warned that he would call the police unless the three stained-tooth cinephiles immediately vamoosed. Meyer civilly directed a few epithets at the young stormtrooper, noting that the theater was thus evicting its only three customers of the evening, but failed to sway him. Meyer also demanded a refund, a request that also didn't fly.
The three marched out, with Meyer leaving more epithets in his wake and promising never to patronize the Mercy theaters again (meaning that he would never be able to go to the movies again in the Yakima Valley).
Meyer's two friends were remarkably forgiving, given that they had warned him about the risks of trying to bring wine into the theater. "He's a foolish and stubborn man, but as long as he keeps making us dinner and serving us wine, we'll put up with him," said M.K.
K.K., an aspiring winemaker, was already planning to go back to the Yakima Cinema to catch the last half hour of Bottle Shock. "I want to know who won the blind tasting competition — the Californians or those snooty French," K.K. said. "And I want to know which guy ended up with the blonde."