I'm just here for the movie
As a teenager, I accidentally gained initiation into the secret society of solitary theatregoers. When, one rainy Saturday night, I could not convince anyone to join me for a screening of a movie I wanted to see, I found myself walking up to the ticket window, handing over cash, and guiltily whispering, "Just one ticket, please."
I glanced around quickly, furtively, expecting the flashing neon "LEPER!" signs, ever-present in my teenaged mind, to conjure themselves into reality. Or waiting for the crowd of people standing around the ticket window to begin pointing at me (in my trench coat and Converse) and whispering, "She's alone. What kind of freak comes to movies alone?"The rain left the outer doors slick against my hands as I pushed them open. Safely inside, I took off my trenchcoat, picked out a box of chocolate-covered almonds, and headed upstairs for the 9:00 screening.
The theatre was busy, buzzing. After a swift, internal cringe (these people would see that I was alone!) I scanned the crowd, saw no one I knew, and picked a seat in the center.
Settling in was simple: stow the trenchcoat, open the package of almonds, stow the resulting wad of plastic, and wait. The scents of cheap chocolate, popcorn, and teenage perfumes assailed my nose. As the darkness and its ensuing hush settled over the theatre, I began to understand.
I stretched, and relaxed—one arm per armrest. No sharing.
No discussions with the person next to me to distract me.
In a room full of people, I was alone; just me and the whirring celluloid.
I was back the next week. The leper signs never quite managed to find me.
* * * * *
On Friday afternoon, I tiptoed into the 1:15 screening of Possession. I loved the book when Andrew gave it to me as a gift a few years ago, and was delighted to the point of squealing when I found out that it was being adapted into a movie.
When I told Jeff earlier this week that there were two movies I wanted to see (Possession and My Big Fat Greek Wedding) in the theatres, he said, "Pick the one you think I'll like better, and I'll go see that one with you."
I thought about it for some time, but then remembered how Possession (the novel) was the kind of book that practically begged for a quiet, rainy Saturday. How likely, then, that the resulting movie would be the kind of quietly delicious bit of sinfulness to be savored alone?
Quite, I thought, so I bought the ticket on a sweltering Friday afternoon and tiptoed into the theatre without a single glance behind me. I've logged many a solitary movie in the eight years that have passed since that first rainy night.
I walked into the theatre and found four solitary birds like myself. Two of them smiled and nodded at me, but said nothing, and immediately turned back to the screen.
I knew their look; it resembled my own.
I picked a seat, arranged my belongings, and waited.
After all, we were just here for the movie.