Dinner and a movie: the classic beginnings of a budding romance. Even to those who often date, the pairing of these two harmless activities provokes stress, embarrassment and an obsession over your own bad breath. Sitting in a dark room with leftover popcorn on the ground can be quite romantic, believe me, and nothing is more attractive than the smell of your own nervous sweat underneath the jacket you’re too embarrassed to take off. Bringing a date to the movies can be an awkward experience, but unfortunately for most high school and college students, it’s one of the only things we can afford.
This awkward encounter can seriously hurt our movie experience. We are so invested in ourselves that we can miss an entire movie while fidgeting with the ends of our sleeves, only pretending to be focused on the screen in case our partners look over at us. The real question here is this: Why do we put ourselves in a position where we neither enjoy a film nor a person’s company when the point was to enjoy both at the same time?
Let me take you to a time many years ago: a time where Katherine Heigl was still a relevant actress and the United Artists movie theater in Elk Grove was unnaturally empty. The movie was One for the Money (2012) (and not worth the money), the date had asked me to prom the week before, and the only snack I snuck in was a bottle of water. At this time in my life I was part of a community service group where I would review movies every week, and I had asked my prom date to come with me to watch a foolish protagonist run around in some sort of crime-romantic-comedy. My date sat to my left while I wrote notes using my right armrest, and we, together, did not laugh at Heigl’s antics.
The best part of this night was that until halfway through the movie, I had no idea that this could be a date. Until I felt the nervous tension in my partner’s shoulders from a full foot away, I was just writing another review for a movie I did not volunteer to watch. It’s not that I minded the idea of dating this person, but before that moment, I was completely calm and natural, with no other thought in my head except the one that forced me to pay attention to the movie for the sake of my review. Never before had I wanted to walk out of a movie so badly.
This was a turning point, where my movie experience was changed completely by the potential date I was on. From then on, I awaited the arm-across-the-shoulders move, hand touching, or any other sign that a junior in high school might expect. As my partner stared straight at the screen, I even angled my shoulders slightly, to show my obvious interest. Apparently, the best that I could do was not good enough. The movie ended uneventfully, my review was complete, and we went out to the car. Then, finally, my date put an arm around my shoulder. It was one of the most romantic moments of my life.
Only going on half of a dictionary-defined date has definitely improved my movie experiences, but not enjoying a film is sometimes necessary. Especially at a young age, going to the movies can definitely help a pair become more comfortable with each other. But it is true that when your mind wanders due to a bad storyline, your thoughts only go to the two seats your party occupies. A date at the movies is a distraction, but it’s a necessary step in a potential relationship. If you overthink it, going to the movies is just two awkward people sitting next to each other and looking away, but the truth is that this experience releases all the tension, nervousness, and inability to speak coherent words, and puts a movie in front of you to distract everyone involved. This experience is a blessing. Without the option of going to the movies, a date might actually consist of talking and getting to know one another, which is outrageous to expect out of two 16-year-olds. So enjoy your dates, prevent the inevitable, and take the two-hour journey away from reality. It’s a part of life. Just please don’t see One for the Money.
How did your date go this weekend? Did you look at them even once? Let me know on Twitter (@edefaz10) or by email (email@example.com)
Graphic by Tiffany Choi
Photo by CA Aggie Photo Team