One of the cool things about being a freelance writer is that it basically gives you free license to ask anyone anything, and you can camouflage it as “research.” Being on the shy side, I was never one to strike up conversations with strangers. I feel weird asking people too many personal questions. That is, unless it’s for an article. That’s how I’ve come to find out about strangers’ first dates and birth stories, how much they make and how often they wash their hair. Inquiring minds want to know.
Years ago, I was interviewing an attractive, successful, 30-something single woman about what it was like to be an attractive, successful, 30-something single woman. Serious investigative journalism, I know! But she had some great things to say about being happily unattached. One thing that stuck with me is that she told me every week on her day off, she would go to the movies alone. Just her, in the middle of the day, with her bucket of popcorn with just the right amount of butter she preferred, watching a movie of her choice.
At that time I was in my twenties, and I would no more consider going to the movies alone than I would going out before 9pm on a Saturday night. It simply wasn’t done. (The irony is that now, of course, I am asleep in my flannel PJs before the hour I would have been arriving at a nightclub back then.) I was afraid to do a lot of things alone back then. God forbid someone think I was a friendless loser. Kids, this was before everyone had phones they could stare at to avoid human interaction and pretend they’re really, really busy.
Fast-forward a couple decades to me, stuck in the house for snow days on end with small children. A solo Sunday matinee while hubs holds down the fort sounds like heaven now. So one weekend recently I slipped out to see “Saving Mr. Banks.” No trying to coordinate schedules with friends, no compromising on movies I don’t really want to see. No sharing my popcorn, no having to take anyone to the bathroom during a crucial plot development. Heaven.
As I waited for the movie to start, I noticed the people around me. Moms and their teen daughters, elderly couples, and several women on their own, like me. It wasn’t weird at all. I didn’t even feel compelled to obsessively check my phone.
I really liked the movie. I’d heard a lot about Tom Hanks’ performance as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson’s as prickly “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers. But the performances that struck me the most were the adorable little girl who plays a young Travers growing up in Australia, and Colin Farrell, who plays her charismatic but troubled father. And I didn’t even know Paul Giamatti was in the movie, but he shared one of its most touching scenes with Thompson.
With no one to distract me, I could give the movie my full attention. I noticed things I probably wouldn’t have if I’d had company, and I wasn’t embarrassed to shed a tear here and there. Was I weeping with relief for finally having a moment to myself, a break from the nonstop whirlwind of family life? Maybe a little, I’m not gonna lie. But I went home refreshed and grateful for the brief respite. You should try it some time. You can quote me on that.
QUOTE O’ THE DAY: “George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” – Walt Disney
RANDOM FACT O’ THE DAY: My 101-year-old grandfather met Walt Disney. He said he was “a real nice guy.” But he thought Disney was an idiot for building a theme park on a swamp in Florida. Ha!