I moved to a new city and was looking for something familiar to do. You know, something to forget about how alone I was.
I’m 23-years-old, a recent college graduate, and, I’d like to think, fairly articulate. But you know how us millennials can be. Wink, wink.
I googled showtimes in my area and didn’t find much, but narrowed my options down to two movies: Wonder Woman and Captain Underpants.
I’d heard the former was a pretty good movie, but I didn’t know if I wanted to see it because: A) I genuinely thought it would be interesting. Or B) If it was one of those movies society said you had to like because it would be socially unacceptable not to.
Plus, it was another superhero movie. Captain Underpants became the clear choice. Plus, I’d loved the books as a kid so I figured the story would be easy to follow. I enjoy a good cartoon, too.
I bought my tickets online and chose my seat, (it’s one of those fancy movie theaters with the fancy recliners and assigned seats.)
To add to the sadness of going to a movie by myself, I’m recently single. You have no idea how hard it is to sneak snacks into a theater when you don’t have a purse to put it in.
I went to the nearby convenience store and settled with a bag of kettle cooked chips, which I tucked under my arm until I got to the concession stand.
From there I ordered my go-to: buttered popcorn (that I’d finish before the movie even started,) and a large Diet Coke.
When I bought the tickets I noticed attendance would be sparse, so I spread out, putting my popcorn on the seat left to me and kettle chips on my right. This was the only logical position to enjoy my snacks with both hands.
I reclined my seat and enjoyed the previews. I’m like to arrive extra early to play film critic before the main movie shows. The previews were skewed a bit toward the family genre, but it looked like there were some genuinely enjoyable movies on the horizon.
As the previews continued, families started to pile in, ranging from families of six and seven, down to parents with one child.
I did notice, though, no one was coming in alone. The lights in the theatre were dim enough to see both the screen and the faces of those filing into the theatre.
Everyone does the quick scan of the audience when entering, it’s just as instinctual as blowing on hot chocolate. Realizing that I was there alone, people looked at me like I had a van parked outside with “free candy” painted on the side.
I’m a believer in dating one’s self. That is, taking yourself to dinner, movies, even a quiet walk from time to time. Investing time in yourself is just as important as investing time in others.
But what I thought was a harmless bit of me time, quickly turned into a barrage of stern looks. I remind you. I’m a 23-year-old with a fairly decent sense of style. I did not show up looking like The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Either the website or I was wrong about the theatre attendance being sparse, because families kept coming. I noticed, though, my row was almost completely empty while the others were filled to capacity. Huh.
I started hearing chatter — coming from various sections of the theatre — about how weird it was that I was there alone.
“What the hell is that guy doing?”
“It’s so weird.”
“Does he have nothing better to do?”
Well, weird is a subjective word, wouldn’t you say? I think it’s weird to eat a candied scorpion, but it might be someone’s favorite treat on the other side of the world.
I think it’s weird to watch cars drive around in circles for hours on end, but it’s the favorite pastime of someone else.
Just as someone might think it’s weird for a grown man to watch a children’s movie alone, that man could be reliving some of the best childhood memories he’s had.
I sat silently in that movie theatre, ate my chips and my popcorn, and drank my Diet Coke. I relaxed in my recliner and laughed at the jokes I knew were coming. I laughed at the witty characters I’d loved so much as a child.
I enjoyed the movie as I knew I would.
It was a lesson in humility. My weird is someone’s normal. The adverse might be true for you.
Remember that the next time you run into a situation like this. Is your judgment warranted or are you the one being weird?
For those made to feel like they’re doing something they shouldn’t: hold your head high, recline in your comfy chair, enjoy your snacks, and watch your movie.