Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Herbie Fully Loaded (4Oct05)

This week's Cheap Theater experience was unlike any other experience I've ever had in a movie theater. And that's not because of the Cheap Theater Crazies (though there were crazies -- oh yes...there were). It's because I went by myself.

Paul was out of town on business for four days, so I figured it would be good for me to get out of the house and go to a movie. I was convinced that going to a movie by myself would be fun and adventurous. But then, after the initial novelty of the whole thing wore off, reality set in, and the thought of it freaked me out just a little bit. After all, I've been paying attention to the crowds at The Cheap Theater, and I see the kind of people who go to movies by themselves. Sure, some are perfectly normal human beings who want to see a movie and are confident enough to go alone. But most of them -- the ones I take special notice of -- are alone for a reason. And I really didn't want to be grouped with those people. So I started talking myself out of going. First, I went online to check the listings, but they weren't available. That, however, wasn't quite enough of an excuse, so I called the movie listings line and got the showtimes.

The next problem: I'd already seen everything I really wanted to see. There were a couple that looked interesting, but they were horror movies -- and after four years of marriage, I've become paranoid enough when I'm home alone. If I saw a horror movie, I'd be up all night, roaming the house, gripping Paul's nine iron.

Another option was The Dukes of Hazzard, but I had a feeling that that, too, would give me nightmares.

So I settled on Herbie Fully Loaded, a good G-rated movie -- one that I'd previously had no intention of seeing. And I proceeded to try to talk myself out of going. Maybe I could just rent a movie instead -- a good chick flick that I couldn't talk Paul into seeing. Or I could go shopping... But the fact of the matter was that I was just a big, fat chicken. So I scolded myself before forcing myself to get into the car and drive to the theater.

It was almost eerie the way everything fell into place, making it as easy as possible for me to feel comfortable with my experience. I got an awesome parking space, and I barely had to walk through the lot. I didn't have to wait in line for my ticket, either. I just walked right up. I did, however, feel a little bit stupid when I had to say, "One for Herbie, please." I tossed my two quarters down and took my ticket. I tried to stand tall and look as confident as possible as I walked into the empty lobby to the lonely ticket-ripper, who courteously took my ticket and directed me to the theater, most likely wondering what serious defect I had that forced me to go to the movies by myself. Did I detect a hint of pity in his voice?

I found my theater and stepped inside, pausing to let my eyes adjust. And there it was, practically staring at me. A single seat. All by itself. In the back row. It seemed to call to me, "Welcome! You belong here! Here's a seat just for you!" Sure, I knew it was designated for those accompanying a wheelchaired moviegoer, but it just felt like it had been put there for me. A place to sit, all by myself. I took the seat, relieved that I didn't have to venture deeper into the theater.

Another benefit of my seat: it was near the door, which was well-lit. Normally, that's a bit annoying. But in this case it was perfect -- because I'd brought my knitting.

It suddenly occurred to me that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was one of those people that I'd take notice of -- a solitary young-ish woman, sitting alone in the back of the theater (right by the door), watching a Disney movie while knitting. Yep. I'd gone over to The Dark Side. I'd joined the crazies. And I didn't mind at all.

The crowd was pretty typical for a Disney movie:

1) A few couples, the male half of which was most likely wishing he could become invisible.

2) A few kids with their parents.

3) A group of chatty little old ladies.

4) And the crazies.

The kids, being rather lacking in number, made up for it by being especially loud. One, who sat across the aisle and ahead of me, had come into the theater, taken his seat, and asked, "Can I talk now?"

Good, I thought. His parents have trained him well.

But apparently his parents had only trained him to sit still and be quiet until the movie starts. After that, it was obviously okay for him to turn back into a monkey.

And then there were the crazies. Besides me, there were two loners in the theaters. One was a long-haired, oddly-dressed hippie-looking young man, probably in his mid- to late-20s. He sauntered into the theater and headed straight for the front row, where he appeared to enjoy the movie way more than anyone else in the theater. The other was a woman, who took another back-row seat. Apparently, no one had notified her that she'd come to the movie alone -- because she had an on-going conversion (rather loudly, incoherently, and, at times, quite angrily) with the imaginary friend she'd brought with her.

Then again, maybe she'd brought a guy with him -- and he'd actually gotten his wish and had become invisible.

I'm not going to say that the experience was a totally natural one. It was strange to sit in the theater alone -- especially with the frightening crazy lady only about seven feet away. But it wasn't all that bad, either. In fact, I may just do it again the next time Paul's on a business trip. I have to be careful, though. If I do it too often, I may end up talking loudly to myself in the back row or cheering wildly in the front row. Who knows...the other crazies in the theater were probably just like me not too long ago -- just bored on a Tuesday night...


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