You Can’t Help What You Hate

I don’t like to go to the movies. Apparently, this makes me some kind of horrible freak. It’s not that I don’t like to watch movies. Of course I do. I just prefer to watch them in my own home. There was a time when if you missed a film at the theater, you had to wait six months for a movie to appear on the shelves at Blockbuster, then truck yourself down there and spend $3.50 to rent it. During that time, I watched movies at the theater.

But now, if there’s a movie I want to see currently playing, I put it in my Netflix queue and it’s sent to me for free a month or so later (as opposed to spending $11 bucks and the extra hour and a half of time sitting through commercials at the movie theater).

Anyway, the point is that while I completely understand that for most people, going to the movies is a super fun, awesome party where they are whisked away to adventure land by the magic of the silver screen, for me it is torture. I feel trapped. I hate not being able to turn off the movie if I don’t like it. I hate walking into the theater on a Sunday afternoon and then coming out and the day is over. I hate how a tall dude always sits in front of me. I spend a lot of movies checking my watch every twenty minutes. I’m not a very visual person I guess. I dunno. It’s just how I am.

Before Saturday, this had never been made explicit between Frank and me. I’d actually never really thought hard enough about the movies to articulate my feelings about them to myself. I just knew that he always asked if I wanted to go to a movie, and I always said “Nah.” I mean, we’d go to the movies sometimes, just not as often as Frank would like, and not unless there was something one of us really wanted to see.

So when he asked on Saturday if I wanted to see Children of Men with some friends we were supposed to hang out with that I evening, I said no. I don’t know why but for some reason I find going to the movies on weekend nights particularly depressing.

“You never want to go to the movies!” he said. He was mad.

“Why ask if I’m not allowed to say no?” I said. I was mad too.

I explained to him why I don’t like going to the movies, pretty much the way I just explained it to you.

“I love the movies,” he said. “Before we started dating, I’d see every movie that was out sometimes.”

“I’m sorry! I can’t help what I don’t like,” I said. I was sorry. I didn’t want to deprive him of something he loved. But I also didn’t want to have to do something I hated. “Maybe you should go without me. Get Dave or Jacob to go with you.”

“Maybe I will,” he said. “Then you’ll feel left out and want to come.”

It was the first real impasse like that we’ve ever come to. It’s weird. Usually, if one of us likes to do something that the other doesn’t, that person has friends they do that activity with anyway. But movies are sort of a bigger category than that. Everyone in New York goes to movies all the time. Smart movies, with subtitles and sadness and unknown Iranian actors. I know I’m the freak. What can I do, though? Get therapy?

I ended up going to see the movie. I sat on the aisle side, so I could escape if I started feeling smothered. It was a really, really good film.

I still hated it, a little. What’s the long-term compromise? I don’t know. I guess I should be happy we fundamentally disagree about movie theaters instead of religion or politics or something. Still, I’m not seeing Pan’s Labyrinth.