Before this weekend, it had been more than two years since I’d watched an animated film on its opening weekend. Why? Because I hate going to watch family films alone.
I put my feelings of self-consciousness aside yesterday so I could go see Despicable Me 2, partly because I’d enjoyed the first one (screened on Netflix, fyi) and partly because I wanted to face my fears of going to a movie for kids without a kid. “It’s all in your head,” I told myself. But that wasn’t entirely true.
The worst part of the experience was actually the moment I’d been dreading most — buying my ticket. (There were no automated machines, a circumstance which caused me to momentarily curse the world).
“Despicable Me,” I grumbled to the box office cashier, like I was a teenager asking for condoms from behind a 7-11 counter.
“Just one?” the girl asked.
It was the just that momentarily made my heart sink.
“Yes, I’m alone. I’m single and childless and I didn’t ask my friends if anyone wanted to go and all appropriately-aged tiny human relatives live in Phoenix and Texas and stop looking at me that way.“ That’s what I wanted to say, anyway. I settled for “Yes.”
Waiting in line to get into the theater was also a strange experience. In front of me, there was a group of four children with their two parents. Another adult woman walked up to the group minutes later with two more children; they were all friends. Behind me, a man from a charity group was telling the manager collecting tickets that he had 30 homeless children and their parents coming and asked if they could help them sit together. (They had raised money to treat them all to dinner and a movie.)
In that moment, I decided the experience could go two ways. I could look at the people around me and feel more alone than ever, wishing my nieces and nephews were next to me, buzzing with excitement. Or I could get over it. The beauty of watching movies with children is that there is no one else in the world who will notice you less. They’re simply excited for the movie and the experience of going to the movies — I often forget I once felt that way, too. The kids in front of me weren’t gossiping about that girl sitting alone at the end of the aisle. And their parents were more concerned with distributing the two large popcorns they’d purchased into smaller containers so that each kid could have their own child-friendly serving. And anyone else…to heck with them.
I won’t say that my Despicable Me 2 experience was enough to bust my insecurities into oblivion, but it’s a start. Also, it was a very cute movie.
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