13 July 2010

Flying Solo.

It took me long enough, but I finally watched Toy Story 3 this past Saturday. I couldn't find anyone on short notice to come with me but I also didn't want to put off watching the film, so I flew solo and attended the 4:00 matinee showing at a nearby theater. You'd think that I'd save a bit of cash by going to an early show, but since I'd opted to watch the 3D version, the ticket still ran me $10.50. This actually didn't surprise me anymore and I figured I'd be paying even more for a later show, so I shelled out the money and was handed a pair of 3D glasses along with my ticket.

pick a seat, any seat

I was the first person inside Auditorium 1, a fairly-large split-level theater. It seemed like the upper level would be the best place to watch so I climbed the stairs and picked the center seat in the second row. I settled in with my $4 box of Mike N Ikes (in clear violation of my diet, but hey it was a Special Occasion) and a few minutes later the local advertising spots and pop culture trivia video loop began playing. Around the same time, small families and couples began trickling in below. After a while it became apparent that I was the only person who was there alone.

I've been going to the movies by myself for several years now. I think the first one I watched solo was The Others at a downtown Seattle theater, when I decided to just go spontaneously after work. It was interesting to be out watching a scary movie without being with friends or a date -- people to share the experience with. But I still enjoyed it regardless. Riding 20 miles back to my apartment at 10pm on a non-express bus, however, was somewhat less enjoyable. But I digress.

Is there still a stigma about going to the movies by yourself? I don't really think there is, but at the same time I'm not aware of any friends who do this. (At least, they haven't explicitly offered this information.) People rent and watch DVDs at home by themselves all the time, but I think there's some kind of social mechanism that generally inhibits us from doing certain activities by ourselves. Movie-watching is the obvious example, but eating at sit-down restaurants and going to concerts/shows also come to mind. I don't know anyone who does these things solo on a regular basis (or at all, to be honest).

What gives? Are we conditioned by social norms to do certain public things in groups? I guess that might have started waaay back in pre-school or kindergarten, when we were encouraged to perform activities with other children. In grade school all the way up to high school, I know that it wasn't necessarily desirable to be considered a loner, that it was considered weird to eat lunch by yourself. Not so much in college thankfully, but I can only conclude that society still unconsciously upholds this stigma to a certain extent in the "real world."

Which is unfortunate, really.

Okay, so: In the continuing effort to expand my own horizons, I will go to an upcoming concert/show and eat at a restaurant by myself, just to see how it goes. In actuality I probably should've done this years ago. I mean, I don't want to miss out on what might be a great experience just because no one else is around to come with me. The city is full of things to do -- if I end up doing some of those things by myself, that's okay with me.

By the way, Toy Story 3 was excellent. I shed tears and dammit, I'm not ashamed.

2 comment(s):

Vivian said...

"Toy Story 3" is a good movie to see by yourself!

It's interesting you bring up shows and sit-down restaurants though. I've done Bumbershoot alone; I have no qualms about going to a music festival or an acoustic/mellow show alone. Though I might have reservations seeing a rock show or a DJ spin by myself... with that said, I have met many people who DO attend these types of shows solo! :)

I've eaten by myself at sit-down restaurants but never particuarly expensive ones. I feel like the fancier places are definitely best shared with someone else for the "experience" (and to cut costs). Would you dine out alone if the opportunity came up?

Most of the people I know who don't like doing these things alone consider themselves very dependent on other people socially. So I would say there isn't really a stigma against being "social" alone -- it's really based on how independent one is.

Ran said...

Hi Vivian! I haven't done any music festivals alone, but I did my first music show -- Ellie Goulding (dance pop) -- solo back in April and had a fantastic time. So I'm encouraged to do Bumbershoot this year if no one is down to roll.

Same here on the fancier restaurants. I've eaten by myself at more casual spots but never at any place where you'd have to show up a little dressier. Not saying it wouldn't happen though.

I've yet to grab a drink at a bar completely by myself, but that's something I'll try anyway to see what it's like (and end up writing about).

Yeah, some people hate doing things by themselves and absolutely *need* friends around when out and about. Nothing wrong with that, but I love the nuances of doing certain "social" events by myself. Happy to see you're the same way!

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