One of my favorite things in the world to do is to go to movies alone. It wasn’t always that way, due to a particularly embarrassing situation when I asked “One to Couple’s Retreat, please” back in 2009, prompting a high school girl movie theater employee to snicker in my face. But I’ve since conquered that fear thanks to mobile apps and kiosks taking away the need to ask for one ticket. Now I buy my seat in my own safe space and the only brave face I have to put on is for the person checking my ticket. “He seems cool as hell, I’m sure all his friends are just running late,” is what I bet they think as I stroll in with the confidence of Paris Hilton skipping the line at Nobu (or whatever a cool club is, I don’t fucking know, I go to movies alone).
I’m not sure why I love solo movie trips so much but I do. Perhaps it’s because it’s a reason to turn off my phone and go off the grid for a bit, maybe it’s because movie theaters have recliners now, or, probably, it’s just because I don’t have anyone to go with so as a defense mechanism I’ve convinced myself I love it. Whatever the reason, I usually rock a single seat at the theater about two times a week.
Tonight was one of those nights and it… did not go well. I mean I really, really fucked it up.
Walking home I checked showtimes and saw that if I put a little pep in my step I could make the 5:30 showing of Deadpool 2. It would mean I’d have to skip picking up my laundry but as someone who’s lusted after Ryan Reynolds since the Van Wilder days, that was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I would sleep on my Leesa mattress bareback tonight (yeah I have one pair of sheets but they’re sexy as hell) to hear some of that famous Reynolds wit.
Since I was arriving right before showtime only seats in row A were available. I was disheartened and considered scrapping the entire plan, but this was Ryan Reynolds, it was Deadpool, and they had Milk Duds inside. Fuck it, I’ve still got that massage coupon mom got me for Christmas. Staring straight up for two hours will finally provide me an excuse to use that tomorrow, I thought, and swiped my card.
When I walked in two things struck me: first, the theater was like three quarters empty and it was two minutes before showtime, second my assigned seat was currently occupied by the woman I was to sit next to’s purse. I could have asked her to move it, but there were countless available seats and asking her to do that would mean talking to a stranger in public and requesting the smallest possible favor. I’m not exactly known for doing that kind of thing, on account of the anxiety it fills me with. The solution was easy: just sit in one of the open, luxurious seats. I chose the aisle seat of row C to be my throne for the next few hours.
For the next 25 (TWENTY FIVE!!!) minutes of previews I sweat, nervously and profusely, thinking that the legitimate owner of my seat could turn the corner and force me into the exact kind of awkward conversation I was hiding from. Moviegoers flooded into the theater throughout the previews because apparently assigned seats have given the people the freedom to come late, knowing there are an outrageous amount of previews. After the trailer for Hotel Artemis I was safe. Then came Mission Impossible, still in the clear. The Equalizer 2, The First Purge, a redband trailer for a movie starring a black guy with an afro but I forget the title, a movie that seems like X-Men but they’re kids and adults hate them and keep them in internment camps but I forget the title, Ocean’s 8. Safe, safe, safe, safe, safe. Finally, The Grinch came on screen and yelled “JUST START THE SHOW ALREADY” right before the trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody came on screen. Phew! That had to be the last one, I had made it.
I hadn’t reclined the entire time because I was too nervous, but as Rhapsody came to a close I started to reach down and finally get comfortable. Just then, the lights to the entire theater flashed on. A woman, who I presumed to be the manager because she had the age and body type of an AMC movie theater manager, said, “I’m going to need to see everyone’s tickets! We have assigned seats FOR A REASON, people.” Panic stricken, I scanned the room, hoping there were other empty seats and perhaps another person in the wrong seat had caused this massive annoyance for a theater full of people. There was not. The whole room had filled up during the marathon trailer session and the lone unoccupied seat was A2, my seat.
From right to left Barbara (guessed at the name but I’m confident) began her march toward my freedom. Inch by inch, seat by seat, I was getting closer to being found out but I remained frozen in fear. I don’t know why I was so scared, she couldn’t arrest me, the worst she could do was make me go to my shitty seat, but my childlike fear of people older than me being upset with me remains. By the time she’d reached row B I’d devised my plan, and it was a good one: when she got halfway through the row and her back was to me, I’d run out of the theater and never look back. As she checked the ticket in seat B6 I grabbed my bag and eyed my line, the moment her back turned I was out like the wind, running down the stairs as if I myself was in one of the countless action movie trailers I’d just watched. She didn’t catch me, I’d gotten away with it and boy was she gonna be confused when she got done and everyone in the theater had the ticket to their assigned seat. I was in the clear.
Until I opened the door and saw Hunter (again, guessing at the name and again confident) standing there in his white shirt tucked into his salmon shorts. I presume he was the snitch, because of his appearance, and he was standing there holding a bag of popcorn, surrounded by three AMC employees holding brooms and dustpans like they were his gang and they were ready to make me pay for my transgression. “Enjoy the movie, sir?” one asked, with too much snark for a movie theater employee to ever use, knowing full well I did not just see a movie. Who else leaves a movie before it starts? I was not in the clear. I’d been caught and was condemned to spend the next 40 minutes overcome with awkwardness.
So that’s what I did on the second Friday of the summer. I tried to go to the movies alone, stole a seat, ran from Barbara, got stared down by Hunter, and had a frumpy theater employee be a sarcastic ass to me. It only cost me a $16.50 ticket and $17 of water, popcorn, and Milk Duds.
PS – The haters said I wouldn’t write a 1,200 word blog about not going to a movie.