A few years ago I went to see a movie with a group of friends. As I was waiting to go into the cinema I saw my sister walking out. She told me that sometimes after a late shift at work she liked to go the movies by herself to unwind. As much as I hate myself for it now, all I could think at the time was ‘what a loser!’
I know that might seem harsh, but I’d always seen ‘going to the movies’ as a social thing. You gather a group of mates, gets some popcorn and a choc top, see the movie then talk about it afterwards. In my mind you would only ever go to a movie on your own because you couldn’t get a mate to go with you. That made me feel pretty bad for my sister. Also, the movie she had chosen to unwind to just happened to be the extended director’s cut of Apocalypse Now. She couldn’t have been in a good place.
Then, a few years later, I found myself in Copenhagen in the middle of a snow storm, in a hotel across the road from a cinema. In my mind, even more perverse than going to a movie on your own is the act of going to a movie when you’re a tourist in a foreign city. But after being snowed in for a few days I decided to break all the rules and bought one single ticket to see Fight Club. From that moment on I was hooked.
Firstly, I didn’t have to make any concessions about the movie I wanted to see. I could chose a violent male-centric movie like Fight Club without constantly worrying about what my “date” might be thinking. Secondly, I could laugh out loud at the bits I wanted to laugh at without worrying if I was laughing at the wrong bits. I also have a really bad laugh, so it was very liberating to laugh out loud in a public space (admittedly under the cover of darkness). And lastly, I just loved the pure indulgence of having time out to myself to luxuriate in a movie. In that Danish cinema it finally dawned on me that my sister might have been onto something.
Since having our three daughters, going out to the movies together is a luxury Susie and I haven’t had the chance to enjoy too often. Even if we can co-ordinate getting the kids fed, washed and in bed before the baby-sitter arrives and can somehow exit the house without feeling guilty, we would rather spend the precious few hours together reconnecting. And it’s the same when I catch up with mates – they would rather share a beer and a chat than sit and watch a movie.
I decided to break all the rules and bought one single ticket to see Fight Club. From that moment on I was hooked.
So a couple of years ago a simple plan was hatched. Every second Tuesday one of us stays with the kids while the other goes to the movies. And it is one of the greatest sanity savers I could ever think of. It allows me to be both a parent and up-to-date with popular culture – a feat I’d been told could never be achieved. And it allows me to see all the movies that Susie would deem too ‘blokey’, while Susie can watch a movie without me whispering commentary all the way through. It’s one of the rarest of parenting arrangements: win-win.
Do you and your partner find time to go on dates? When you go the movies can you fly solo or do you need a wingman? Discuss Joseph's blog.