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Shame, humiliation & 80s rock

After writing about going to the movies in last weeks column, I couldnt stop thinking about going to the movies. I also couldnt stop tapping the doorknob exactly 19 times whenever I left the house and bowing exactly eight times to the television set as if the television set and I were in the same karate class and were about to spar every time I turned it on. I had become obsessed with going to the movies, and I felt compelled to engage in bizarre, irrational rituals before performing everyday tasks. But enough about my endless struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (a struggle that, in all honesty, I made up in the hopes of garnering sympathy a despicable act for which I deserve to be flogged with a sack of ripe oranges). The point is that after I finished last weeks column, I kept thinking about the movies. Specifically, I thought about how we almost always go to the movies with other people how we consider going to the movies a social event, even though we spend most of our time there sitting silently in a dark room, basking in the hypnotic glow of the story unfolding on the screen. I thought about how we call people who buck the norm and go to the movies alone weirdos, and losers, and reminiscent of crazed recluse Ted Kacynski, also known as the Unabomber. But, I wondered, what if were wrong? What if people who go to the movies by themselves arent potentially sociopathic nut jobs who spend disturbingly large chunks of time wearing their great grandmothers wedding dresses and dancing around their rooms to 38 Specials 1982 hit Caught Up in You? Dont get me wrong Im sure most of the people who go to the movies alone actually are weirdos, and losers, and crazed recluses. But I guarantee you that at least some of them arent. How do I know for sure? Because I occasionally go to the movies alone, and I would hardly label the chunk of time I spend wearing my great grandmothers wedding dress and dancing around my room to 38 Special disturbingly large. (My parents might beg to differ, but what do they know? First of all, they havent researched the subject nearly as extensively as I have, and second of all, what do they know?) Anyway, what Im trying to say is that going to the movies alone doesnt have to be a shameful and humiliating experience. Going to the movies alone can, in fact, be a liberating and relaxing experience. Think about it: you dont have to make forced, inane small talk with anyone before the film starts; you dont have to save anyones seat while they buy popcorn or go to the bathroom; you dont have to field anyones stupid whispered questions during the middle of the movie about what just happened or what that one guy just said to that other guy. Of course, going to the movies alone is only relaxing and liberating if youre in a big city where you dont know many people, and if you go to a soulless corporate multiplex. That way, the chances of someone you know spotting you and deciding that youre a deranged sicko are lower than Rob Schneiders self-esteem after the reviews came in for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. And thats almost unimaginably low. If, on the other hand, you go to the movies alone at a small, quaint theater near your hometown like, if youre me, the Palace in Lake Placid someone you know will almost certainly see you. And if someone you know sees you, theyll either 1) take great pity on you and insist that you sit with their group, the other members of which will regard you with thinly veiled disapproval and disgust for the next two hours (even if or maybe especially if you refuse to join them), or 2) say hi and then ignore you the rest of the night. Although the second response is preferable, youre done for no matter what. Thanks to the wonders of text messaging, the person who spotted you will immediately tell all of your mutual acquaintances about the incident and within an hour, tops everyone youve ever met will be convinced that youre a potentially sociopathic nut job who spends disturbingly large chunks of time wearing your great grandmothers wedding dress and dancing around your room to 38 Specials 1982 hit Caught Up in You. And trust me on this one thats a lesson you dont want to learn the hard way. Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at dpleonidas@yahoo.com or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.

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