Hansen: Ode to watching movies alone

It must be the armrests.

When you go to a movie alone you get both armrests. But when you're with someone, you have that half armrest thing going on, and it's not worth it.

Plus, if you do manage to get a full armrest, out of the dark blue when you are least expecting it — wham, your arm is knocked off.

You completely lose your movie train of thought and mumble "sorry," as if it's your fault.

There is perhaps no other single activity that is as enjoyable and stigma free as going to a movie alone.

"There's so many single people, so you get a lot of them," said Bob Lively, manager of Laguna South Coast Theater and a 30-year veteran of the movies.

Lively said about 40% of his business comes from singles, which may sound high until you consider that it almost matches the 44% of adults who are single, according to the Census Bureau.

"There's more on the weekend," he said. "Most of the single people will come in for every new show."

Nationally, frequent moviegoers — those who go once a month or more — account for 57% of all the movie tickets sold, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

And in Laguna, with matinee tickets only $6, it's hard to find a better deal.

"It's here; it's convenient and it's inexpensive," said Keno Champion, who was going to see "American Hustle" on Sunday.

Going to a movie alone is nothing like going to dinner alone. If you're going to dinner, you are immediately hit with, "Only one?"

Or "Just you?"

Or "Wow, really? You're alone? That's sad."

The only way you can pull it off is at a sushi bar — or just a bar in general.

But then you're that guy eating at the bar alone.

If you think about it, there's nothing else that you can go to as a single person and still hold your head high. Everything else is rough.

Wedding? Brutal.

Amusement park? Lame.

New Year's Eve party? The worst.

Laguna Beach resident Edward Hersh likes going to the movies alone because he gets to see what he wants.

"I have an 11-year-old, so our movie genres are different," he said. "And you can get in and out."

There are other benefits.

You can sit wherever you like: front, middle or back.

You can buy your favorite candy and not feel guilty.

You can cry as much as you want. And if you're still bawling when the credits roll, you can sit there until your eyes dry.

After the movie, you don't have to pontificate with your partner about its meaning. Yes, it's sometimes nice to discuss movies, but mostly, I need time to absorb it all. I don't always feel like giving an on-the-spot dissertation.

So perhaps it's not surprising that more single people see the movie "Her" than couples. OK, I don't know if that's really true, but it would make sense.

It's ready-made for virtual intimacy. It legitimizes new definitions of being single. And it doesn't feel self-conscious.

The only thing really missing is surrogate hand-holding.

DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at davidhansen@yahoo.com.

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