Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Going To The Movies Alone

I went to the movies by myself last night.

Why? I have no idea. It was like a social experiment or something.

I decided that I wanted to see Pirates Of The Carribean: On Stranger Tides on the big screen and I figured most of my friends had already seen it. Instead of making a round of calls and figuring out the details with people, I thought maybe I would go for an adventure and see it by myself. I was quite curious actually. The idea of seeing a movie alone intrigued me.

And so, almost immediately after starting up the car, I thought about bailing. I mean, shit, I was about to cross over to the other side, to the land of dudes who see movies alone.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with going to the movies alone," my dad told me.

"I've never done it. In my entire life, I've never done it," my mom added with a note of jock 'tude in her voice.

Then, I thought about it and realized that I hadn't really ever done it either. I remember I went to the movies alone once in high school because I was writing a movie review for the school paper and I took it way too seriously (I had a notepad in the dark theater, as if I could see what I was writing...and I was probably just drawing boobs anyway). Also, while in high school, I used to sit in on a film course at Chapman University because they showed old movies and my friends weren't really interested in them. I'm not sure if that really counts, since it was a classroom and I think the teacher thought I was one of his students. Actually, he probably thought I was flunking the fuck out, since I was only there half the time, but I think he assumed I was a student nonetheless.

Upon arriving to Cinema City, I emptied half my bag of candy into some cough drop box I had lying around my car. The bag of candy was too big to fit in my pocket and I thought, "It's hard to think of a lamer situation to run into somebody you know than arguing with some teenage movie theater employee about sneaking candy into a movie I'm obviously attending by myself."

After I considered that thought, things went pretty sketchy in my head. Holy shit, I wondered, what if I run into someone I know?

So, as I crossed the parking lot, I began to feel like I was attending some kind of school dance alone, which seems silly. I watch a stupid amount of movies by myself (granted, I'm in my bedroom at the time) and I love going to movie theaters. But, for some reason, I've fully accepted the weird stigma that I have to see a movie with someone. But why? We just sit in the dark and stare ahead at the screen in silence anyway.

Maybe it's just like why I don't really travel alone. I essentially want someone I can turn to and yell things at when I'm excited.

Regardless, I came up with back stories.

If I ran into someone I knew, I'd tell them, "Oh, I was supposed to meet my friend here, but something came up and he isn't going to make it. I figured I was already here, so I might as well see the movie."

If I had to explain myself to someone I didn't know, I'd tell them, "Oh, I'm a big fancy lead singer of a big fancy band on a big fancy tour and we had some time to kill and I didn't really feel like doing a bunch of coke, so I came here to see a movie while I'm in town for the night."

If I was forced to come up with a name for that ridiculous latter story, it would've been something pathetically obvious: "Oh me, my name's Jim Jimmerton St. Claire Cloud McFunrocker. I sing for a band called...Jimmy Jim Jim And The Parking Lot Cars."

I either lie really, really well or really, really poorly. It's tremendously hit-and-miss.

Anyway, once inside the theater, I decided, "Man, I am going to treat the hell out of myself." So I bought a big stupid drink and a big stupid popcorn and I had a big stupid smile on my face the whole time. I doused my popcorn in butter and salt ("doused" is not an exaggeration). This was thrilling, as I don't always get to do this. If I'm at the movies with a friend, one of us will buy the candy and one of us will buy the popcorn, so we can share (and not everyone loves butter and salt as I do). Then, every time I go to the movies with a girl, she tells me not to pour on the butter and salt because it's bad for me, and I think, "Bitch, maybe I want diabetes." But it never comes out like that. Instead, it comes out like, "Bitch, maybe I want you to get diabetes."

Movie popcorn brings out the worst in me.

So, then, when I reached the 17-year-old girl at the booth, I had to set my poison of a popcorn bucket down, so I could hand her my ticket, because my hands were full of all this food nonsense, like I was preparing to see the original Star Wars back in the 70s, as if this was supposed to be some life-changing event I was about to have at the movies ("Jesus, this tall drink of idiot water loves movies. Motherfucker's probably going to start telling me movie trivia and how historically inaccurate these Pirates films are," I assume she thought to herself). Even then, as she handed me back my ticket and we simply stared at each other awkwardly, just the look (I may have very well imagined) she gave me nearly brought out my story about being the lead singer of Jimmy St. Jim And The Who Fucking Cares or whatever from some East Coast city I'd make up like Moviepostercarpetville, Pennsylvania.

Clearly, going to the movies alone was messing up my brain in a big way.

Finally, I sat down in my theater seat and the trailers started. And, every time I crinkled the plastic that surrounded my precious Sour Patch Kids in between trailers, I felt like everyone was looking at me and thinking, "Is that poor societal defunct alone? Is he going to want some of my Whoppers? I'll be goddamned if he does. Honey, should I set my purse on the floor or do you think he could still reach for it? Oh, I hope he doesn't scoot next to us and do something weird."

This all makes sense to me, as it was a small theater and I was the only one there with the seat next to them filled with the makings of a dirty food bomb.

So I watched the movie, got up when it finished and left in silence. I'd like to see any pirate film on the big screen, but, honestly, it felt like I could've easily watched something at home instead. That's what I realized as I crossed the stale pink, red and yellow colors of the lobby. I realized that movies aren't all that cool by yourself.

You should be dissecting that shit on the way home! Did I get to tell anyone that I thought the movie was mediocre? Did I get to tell anyone that I thought the movie was obnoxious, silly and a big letdown? Did I get to tell anyone how hot I thought the mermaid was? Did I get to tell anyone all the crazy things I would do to that mermaid? Did I get to ask everyone what that actress's name was, just so I could watch three or four friends pull out their iPhones and tell me at the same time? No! So, guess what? I had to do that google her myself once I got home and I found out her name is Astrid Berges-Frisbey. Fucking...a Spanish-French actress with a last name that's pronounced "frisbee?" Hell yes. I love frisbees. Sign me the fuck up, lady, and let's go see your movies together, because I am straight up done seeing that shit by myself.


Celeste Hoang said...

so, this post made me really happy when you said you went to a movie alone and ordered yourself a big tub of popcorn doused in butter because a) i saw The Dark Knight four times by myself in NYC and it was awesome and b) popcorn should always be doused in butter but certain friends have told me i shouldn't do that. whatever.

however, when i got to the end of your post, i started thinking, dangit! jake is right! when i see a movie alone, there's no one to talk to about it afterward. when i'm laughing in the theater, it truly feels like i'm laughing by myself. but strangely, i think i'd still enjoy it. at least a whole lot better than eating by myself. said...

I love going to the movies by myself. I miss, in fact. I haven't done it in a few years, only because of Jessica. I'll blame this on her. What a burden she is. Anyhow, if I can find the time, I'd still do it. It's peaceful, and I seem to be more cognizant of the details of the world around me: the people, the discourse, the dynamic of certain relationships.

But next time, if you feel insecure about it, I'll be happy to join you.