I keep a lot of lists; books I’ve read, books I want to read, even some that don’t involve books. I have lists of life goals and lists of daily goals, but my most important list of goals is my yearly list. I started compiling it on my birthday, and while I originally intended to call it “25 for 25,” i.e. 25 things to do in my 25th year, it’s grown past 25 and I’m still adding to it.
I was shocked last month to see how many items I’ve already checked off my list without really noticing. I try to include things that are relatively easy but that I may just need a reminder of (baking a pie!) as well as things that are such big or scary undertakings that I’m not sure I can do them (starting a blog!). One that’s been on my list for awhile is “See a movie alone.”
I don’t mean at home in my living room; I mean in a theatre, that sanctuary for couples in love and family togetherness. The thought of sitting there, alone, in the darkened theatre made me terrified and excited at the same time, so I knew I had to do it. When I had a free Saturday morning/afternoon, I took the chance to check another number off the ol’ “to do” list.
Instead of just heading straight for the movie theatre, head down, shoulders hunched, determined to get this over with, I decided to make a day of it. Take the little lady out on a solo date, really treat her right, you know? I started by wearing shorts in public, something I just started doing for the first time since high school. Shorts send a message to the world around you, and that message is, “Hey, I’m an easy, breezy, regular girl who doesn’t have body anxiety left over from a chubby adolescence and I’m totally okay with showing skin above my knees!” Even if that is not an honest message, I believe in fakin’ it till you make it. I also wore a scarf and big jewelry. Beauty secret: this will make you look bohemian-casual instead of hobo-disheveled.
I took myself to my favorite restaurant, Northstar, so I could enjoy a lovely orange/carrot/ginger/lemon juice without anyone telling me it looked gross. Eating alone is so great; you get to read, and know that if someone notices you sitting alone, they will either think you are lonely and pathetic or badass and independent. That’s a 50/50 chance someone will think you are cool! Probably even higher if you aren’t crying into your napkin.
After that I had some time, so I decided to see where the wind would take me. Turns out the wind took me to a used bookstore, where the wind quite forcefully convinced me to buy 4 books.
Once I got close to the movie theatre, I started to notice that the streets were overrun with a startling number of 20-somethings, bedecked in scarlet, grey, facepaint, and jewelry made out of nuts. In my general cluelessness about sports, I’d forgotten that there was an OSU game that afternoon. I miraculously avoided hitting any revelers, only to find that the movie theatre’s parking garage was now charging a $20 “event parking” charge for the game.
“Do I still have to pay $20 even if I’m going to see a movie, not the game?” I asked, batting the non-existent eyelashes that, according to my overpriced Sephora mascara, were supposed to be 1/4″ longer by now.
“If you’re going to see a movie, I can give you this pass,” he said, handing me a slip of paper. “You get two tickets, a medium popcorn and a medium drink. It’s a total deal.”
I just sat there and telepathically begged him to notice my empty passenger seat. “Is there some way I could save that pass?” I asked. “Because…there’s only one of me.”
“You can see what they’ll do for you once you get in there,” said the parking lot attendant, leaning over my window, “but that’s all I can offer you.” He winced apologetically.
“I’ll take my chances,” I said with a huge sigh, which he found hilarious. So as if I was not aware enough of my aloneness, I was now going to walk into this theatre and be forced to buy two tickets, a popcorn big enough for two, and a soda meant to share. I climbed the stairs and thought about how I could negotiate my way out of this. This was yet another time I wished I had boobs.
As it turns out, I didn’t even need boobs, because as the lone guy working at 11 a.m. could see, I was alone. “Here’s what we’ll do,” he said before I’d even reached the counter. “Since it’s just you, this is a free pass you can use at any point in the next year.” He scribbled on a little piece of green paper and handed it to me.
“Thank you,” I said with unnecessary gratitude, touched by the thoughtfulness of company policy.
“So,” he leaned on the counter. “What would you like to drink?”
There wasn’t a single other person in sight and I felt like I was on some sort of adventurous first date, like in Some Kind of Wonderful when Eric Stoltz takes Lea Thompson to an empty ampitheatre. Except that in the Some Kind of Wonderful of my life I am totally the Mary Stuart Masterson character, and also I’m getting popcorn instead of diamond earrings, which is fine because honestly that’s a better gift for me anyway, and also I think it’s silly to blow your entire college fund on jewelry.
I ordered a Sprite. “Do you like popcorn?” he called over his shoulder.
Do I like popcorn? “Yes,” I said. Of course. What fool would say no?
“Okay, I’ll give you a little extra,” he said, reaching not for the paper bags used for mediums, but instead grabbing that cardboard tub meant for several people to share.
This was quickly becoming the best date ever, and I was the only person on it.
With my American’s-Obesity-Crisis-sized popcorn and high fructose corn syrup laden Sprite balanced in my hands, I made my way to the theatre to see The Future. Miranda July’s newest film seemed like the perfect choice for my 1st solo movie, as I’m pretty sure no one in the world wanted to see it as much as I did. I walked into the theatre with 5 minutes to spare, only to be greeted by rows upon rows of empty seats. I was the only person there.
I sat in the centermost seat and arranged by snacks around me. “When I said I wanted to see a movie alone, I didn’t mean I wanted to see a movie alone,” I said in a Rodney Dangerfield voice while grimacing and tugging on my collar. I did all this in my head, not out loud, so as not to embarrass myself, but since no one else was there, I really could’ve said whatever I wanted or impersonated any comedian I chose and no one would’ve cared.
I really enjoyed the movie. I didn’t even eat half my popcorn OR cry, which is why I consider the day a success. Seeing a movie alone is such a tiny pleasure; the feeling of walking out alone without having to dissect your thoughts with anyone is nice, and really, it’s not like you’d be talking to anyone during the movie anyway. You get to carry that quiet movie trance with you just a little longer. The only downside is that if the movie you’re seeing has a sex scene, you are going to feel like a creep sitting there alone watching it. Like, if someone walks in they are going to assume you’ve turned the theatre into your own private masturbatorium when in reality you’re just trying to watch a movie!
Go see a movie by yourself, ladies. It will make you feel independent and badass and maybe someone will even upgrade your popcorn because they feel sorry for you. You won’t know until you try.