It happened by accident the first time.
Years ago back while I was in high school, I was staying after class to finish up an art project but had late-night plans later on to meet up with some friends at the downtown movie theater. I grew up in a very small town in Wisconsin so when I say “downtown” I mean, “down the street, up a block and a left at the Perkins.” I figured I’d catch a lift with my parents (only the super cool kids did that) to the theater, watch the latest Freddie Prince Jr. romcom with my pals, and then squeeze into my best friend Jenna’s car (she had just gotten her license and was the envy, and designated chauffeur, of the gang.)
Well, I got there late due to my mom’s snail-like tendencies on the road, and the theater was already dark with hypnotic Fruitopia commercials playing as I walked in. I had no choice but to walk around whisper-yelling for a few minutes before eventually giving up and settling into a cozy seat at the back, figuring I’d find my friends after the show.
After the cheesy (but oh so charming) relationship clichés and dating hijinks faded into happily ever afters (She’s All That is still one of my all-time favorite chick-flicks!), and the scrolling credits illuminated the screen, my friends were still no where to be seen. I almost was tempted to invent a wireless telephone of some sort to send them electronic letters on the spot, but the network infrastructure just wasn’t ready. So I bundled up and walked home before sorting out the mixed up plans the next day.
Sure, it felt a bit strange sitting alone at the back of the movies for the first time, but you know what? It was actually pretty darn enjoyable too.
1. Dress down for Chinatown. When you’re chilling at home under your Strawberry Shortcake blanket, you can relax in old sweats and classy bedhead, but when you’re on the town it’s time to squeeze into tight denim and well-coiffed hairdos. When you hit the multiplex solo, you can fight the fashion police in your maroon nylon jumpsuit and tank top, sans the worries but with all the comfort in the world.
2. Bag the bucket. enjoy the whole bucket of popcorn and box of Milkduds to yourself without worrying about getting stuck with the oily kernels and burnt bits at the bottom of the bag.
3. Kick open the escape hatch. When you’re lugging your baby brother or sister to a Saturday afternoon cartoon or doing date night in a high-octane, shoot ’em up action flick, that escape hatch is bolted on tight. But if you’re watching a movie alone and aren’t digging the flick, you can just bail and see something else without the guilt. Freedom is always nearby.
4. Squeeze into center seats. You know when you’re looking for seats in a crowded theater and there never seems to be any twos or threes in the best spots? Well, god news friends! There’s usually a single seat wedged in there somewhere! If you’re late, Hakuna Matata! Forget the front row neck killer seats and get into the game!
5. Invest in yourself. Because there’s something sweet about getting quality You Time. Sure, we’re social creatures by nature who love dinner parties, basement hangouts and constant texting…but it’s also good unplugging your braina nd escaping into distant fantasy worlds on your own. No talking, no whispering and plenty of armrests mean you can enjoy the solo trip.
Going out to the movies by yourself is about growing up, growing older and growing more comfortable in your own skin. It fills you with the freedom of just being yourself and letting everything else just slip away for 2 hours…