Posted on

Real men aren’t scared to go to a movie alone

Real men aren’t scared to go to a movie alone Real men aren’t scared to go to a movie alone

There are some places in life where a grown man is just expected to venture alone. He should be able to go to the dentist now without Mommy holding his hand (as long as she's waiting in the car with a treat) and the Fleet Farm fishing section is certainly a destination where he doesn't want any spouse-types hanging over his shoulder asking why on Earth he needs more #8 deep-running Shad Raps when he's already got enough fishing lures to fill the backyard storage shed twice over. And, yeah, well, the restroom. Didn't think I needed to point that one out.

As it turns out, the movie theatre is a place to which a guy ought not go unaccompanied, I've always maintained. I did that on Sunday, just me, myself and I and a tub of butter-soaked popcorn large enough to choke a white rhinoceros (yeah, that's why they're extinct), and I have to say it was awkward to sit there alone with nobody to say 'That one looks good' to during the trailers for the movies whose names you won't be able to remember already after the 'It's illegal to record this motion picture' warning flashes on the big screen. Heck, with no one sitting within four seats of me in any direction, I made it through the entire film without kicking, elbowing, bumping or spitting partially-chewed popcorn husks onto a single soul. Seems like a waste.

In my nearly 57 years of existence as a nominally well-adjusted Caucasian man of Eastern European lineage, I had never prior to Sunday walked into a movie theatre by my lonesome. You know, once maybe, as a kid, I ran through the doors by myself while my parents were poking around outside, but not before had I consciously strolled all alone under the flashing marquee, through the quadruple doors, and to the ticket counter, with the expressed purpose of attending a movie by myself.

'One, please,' I said rather ceremoniously to the sassy teen-aged clerk.

'That'll be $7.25,' she said in return, not even pretending to notice that I, a not entirely unattractive middle-aged man with no prior record of criminal activity, would be here on a Sunday without a date on my arm, or in my wallet looking for cash for Gummy Bears. The significance of the moment lost on her, she handed me my ticket and told me to go to the right, down the hall. And, I realized then, this time I had to listen, 'cuz no one would be there to answer when I might inevitably ask, 'Which way did she say?' Or, 'Do you want Thin Mints?' now that I think about it.

I believe I'd be accurate in saying that I had not heretofore ever even considered attending a motion picture by myself, but this, oh, this was a somewhat extraordinary situation. This was a war movie playing, see, and Dean likes war movies about as much as he likes a bowl of warm vanilla cooked pudding with ripe banana slices in it. But, scrolling through the imaginary little black date book in my mind, and finding no name without a red 'active restraining order' notation beside it, I realized this would be a solo mission. A single seater. A one-man flight. A partnerless party.

OK, I get it. Stop rubbin' it in.

Now there have been other periods of my life -- mainly my late 20s thru early 50s -- when I have not had the pleasure of a female companion with whom to attend motion pictures, and my usual habit has been to take the 'I'll just wait until it hits Netflix' approach. This time, though, was different, as I'd seen the trailer for '1917' and knew I just had to witness the full visual effects on a screen the size of the Wal-Mart cereal aisle (geez, have you seen how many flavors of Cheerios they have these days?). This was a World War I epic, mind you, a harrowing tale of bravery, courage and heroism set in the springtime killing fields of France, and even if I wasn't gonna' have anyone on which to spill my soda, I was gonna' go. Loneliness be damned, I figured, and besides, it was either that or sit in my living room with my cat watching 20-year-old 'Forensic Files' episodes. Yeah, the estranged husband did it. He always does it.

I attended the 12:30 p.m. show, yes, even daring to appear in broad daylight with no one to talk to except the invisible ogre that follows me everywhere (and that explains the restraining orders). It was surprisingly busy, but then, I hadn't factored in the weekend family crowd lined up to see 'Frozen 2' for the 12th time since Christmas. I managed my way through the throng, and obtained my ticket, my popcorn and my soda, if not my dignity. You know, well, so I forgot to close my pants zipper before I left home and didn't realize it until I was salting my corn. It happens.

Walking into the already-blackened theatre chamber alone was an entirely new experience as usually, the gentleman in me will say to my date, 'We'll sit wherever you'd like.' But now, here I was, perhaps 200 empty seats, with me alone responsible for selecting the one with just the right blend of proximity and angle to the screen, not too near the speakers, and in the part of a row which would afford old folks with weak bladders the least opportunity of having to crawl over me before the pre-show advertisements were finished. My, who knew what choices debilitating loneliness can bring.

I finally decided on an end seat, slightly more than half-way forward, on a whim. With no partner to hog, er, I mean, occupy the seat adjacent to mine, I was able to fling my jacket there with a just-deal-with-it carefreeness that I hadn't experienced since, well, maybe ever. And just think, I thought, nobody to lean over in a suspenseful part of the film and whisper, 'Whadid she say?' or 'Ouch, stop kicking me.' Maybe this wouldn't be so traumatic after all.

And it wasn't. It was enjoyable, relaxing, satisfying, fulfilling. The movie was fantastic, a cinematic marvel, the 119-minute run time passing more quickly than one of the German artillery shells that landed in the chaotic British trenches. Had I a vote in the Academy Awards, I'd have cast by 'Best Picture' choice right then and there, but instead, alas, swept the spilled popcorn off my seat and headed for the exit.

Well, no, actually, the restroom first. I'd been squirming since the scene in which Col. William Schofield jumps in the river.

On my drive home, I was satisfied with myself for having done what I'd not done before, for choosing to get out and enjoy something rather than sit at home and pout about the fact that no female on the entire planet -- that's like 3.5 billion, by the way -- wanted to go with me that day. Well, no, I didn't ask them all, but let's just say that a man sometimes has to realize that going it alone ain't so bad.

And yes, you're right,I didn't even have to share my popcorn. Not that I usually do anyway,