Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Social Nitwit

“One for The Social Network at 9:30,” I meekly requested as I handed my money to the female cashier at the box office. Before I lived in Spain a few years ago I never went to movies by myself, but at the end of that trip as winter approached and I began to run out of money I killed a few cold Barcelona afternoons inside of the local theatre watching a subtitled film alone. Ever since, being a spontaneous single guy, I often found myself wanting to see a movie on a random Wednesday night and not wanting to call friends to join me, assuming they have surely already seen the movie, made other plans or are already settled on staying in for the night. There’s nothing worse than calling up a bunch of friends to hang out only to find they are all busy living their lives with no time to go to a movie with you. So instead, I just don’t call at all.

There's a reason people who go to movies alone
are sometimes looked at strangely.
And now I’ve seen dozens of movies alone, but it’s an experience I will never be completely comfortable with. Maybe it’s the fear of running into people I know and appearing pathetic and friendless, maybe it’s the idea of being that creepy guy sitting in a dark theatre by myself, or maybe it’s the knowledge that there’s no way I can finish all of the popcorn that comes in my “small” $6 bucket. Not to mention, now that most theatres are assigned seating, I can’t even pick a seat strategically set away from my fellow moviegoers and disappear from reality and into the darkness, which is one of the best reasons for going to see a film.

As I glanced over the seating chart of the theatre the attendant asked me, “Are you going to be sitting with him but paying separate?” My confused expression caused her to nod behind me where a sad, strange looking old man was in line all by himself. “Oh no, I don’t know him.” The only person more embarrassed by the mistake than the attendant was me, now feeling even more humiliated about my lonely night out. I purchased my ticket and walked by the old man, staring at him as I passed. Was I looking into my future? Would this be me in 50 years? Still going to movies by myself? I considered asking the elderly gentleman if he wanted to sit next to me but thought better of it since he was old and he undoubtedly smelled like funky cologne and sour milk and would pester me with non-stop questions throughout the movie assuming his hearing aid wasn’t turned up loud enough. 

I entered the theatre, following a couple in their 60s who happened to end up seated next to me on my left. To my right was another couple closer to my age. While one might assume I would get all sad and gooey surrounded by so much love when all I had was a box of Milk Duds and no one to share them with, I was actually happy about my seating arrangement. Because I entered the theatre with the older couple and sat down next to them, the younger couple probably assumed I was with my parents. And since I sat down next to the younger pair, the couple I entered with probably thought I was joining my friends after my stop at the concession stand. It was a perfect situation that allowed me to watch the movie without worrying that the people around me thought I was pathetic. Yes, these are the things I think about.

If I don't get my social skills in order,
I might as well start dressing like this.
And that’s the real issue here. Why should I care what people think of me for going to the movies alone? I am sure other people do it. That old guy was there alone. No one was judging him. In reality, the only person judging me for going alone is me. And when I think about it, I am not truly concerned with the fact that I go to movies by myself. What really disappoints me is my lack of effort to try and find people to go with. Whether it’s my fear of rejection or just plain laziness, I’m not putting in the effort I should be to spend time with my friends. At least the old guy had an excuse: all of his friends are probably dead. Maybe one day I will be a lonely old man, but that day shouldn’t come when I’m 28.

So, who wants to go see a movie?


  1. You have plenty of virtual friends in your blogosphere. That's what really counts!

  2. Todd, you're funny. And please don't start dressing in robes and sweat pants...not yet at least.

  3. I was waiting for my movie night,he never came. Happy New Year!