As I entered the movie theater late Friday afternoon to see "X-Men: First Class" by myself, it dawned on me that I could easily recall every movie I've ever seen alone: "Babel," "The Town," and "The Bourne Ultimatum." It's not because these movies were so memorable (with the exception of that one scene in "The Town" where Don Draper and Serena van der Woodsen flirt at a bar, they weren't), it's that the awkwardness I felt about seeing a movie by myself was, in each case, so all-consuming. I would self-consciously sit in the back or far to the side in order to attract as little attention to myself as possible. I would fake text in my seat before the movie started, looking past people when they walked by my row as if I were searching for a friend I was waiting for. I imagined everyone around me was whispering to each other "OMG, do you see that guy in the sweatshirt who's here by himself? What a geekwad."
But this time was different! Like a mutant who learns to be proud of his freakish abilities, I actually felt just fine about being on my own. In fact, I realized after the fact that there are some really nice aspects of seeing a movie by yourself:
1. I could sit wherever I wanted to! Usually, since I like to avoid confrontation at all costs, I will nod in agreement no matter where my movie-going companion suggests we sit. ("Sure, the front row for this two-and-a-half hour long gore-fest sounds great!") Not an issue when you're by yourself! Additionally, when two teenage girls sit near you who are yammering loudly and eating sandwiches they smuggled in their purses that smell like fish tanks (I dunno), you can get up and move without a second thought. (You can do this when you're with someone, too, I guess, but it causes more of a commotion and just seems more dramatic.)
2. One of my biggest irrational pet peeves is people I'm with texting during a movie. Aahh, it annoys me so much! To set an example or something, I always make a point of not even looking at my phone during movies (not that my friends probably ever notice/care). But - and this is something I should probably bring to a therapist - when I was watching "X-Men," I checked my phone all the time! I looked at every text, checked the time every 10 minutes, etc. It was kind of great, I must admit. It made me think of an imaginary mother who always makes everyone take off their shoes in her house returning to an empty home one day and like jumping on her couch and stomping on the carpet in her heels and just loving it.
3. It's nice to be able to evaluate a movie on your own. I feel like, half of the time, I leave a movie and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but the person I'm seeing it with is like "omg I loved it so much I'm actually tweeting a rhyming ode to it right now" or "well, thaaaat sucked" and I feel like I have to just nod along or equivocate if I disagreed ("yeah, I guess it was weird how they never told us why he didn't eat the pancakes..."). It was kind of nice to leave "X-Men" and be able to just come up with all of my conclusions and evaluations on my own. Oh, and it was also nice that there was no one around to interrupt my prolonged post-movie daydream about walking around Paris with Michael Fassbender.