Disclaimer: While the following story was horrific at the time and seriously traumatic, I can laugh about it now. Living in a big city, you see almost everything. If this had happened on the street or on the L, (or even in this situation with someone else witnessing it) I would have thought it was crazy and just something that happens.
Tomorrow, I am going to a movie.
Why, you might ask, would going to a movie alone be such a big deal for an almost 32 31 year old woman?
Let me tell you a story- the most horrific/disgusting/icky story of my life.
When I first moved to Chicago 7 years ago, I was what you would call a big fat chicken.
I grew up in po-dunk Iowa and lived on a farm most of my childhood. While I lived in “major metropolitan areas” both during high school and college (population 100,000 and 250,000 respectively), I had only been to Chicago one time before, and I hate to say it, only ridden the subway once.
I had a hard time leaving my house after dark the first few weeks- SOMEONE MIGHT ROB RAPE AND KILL ME!!!- though I was able to quell my fears long enough to go to the grocery store and a random night at a friend’s house (hey- I moved in October – it gets dark at 4pm!)
After 3 months, I felt BRAVE enough to go to the movie theater. BY. MY. SELF.
I hadn’t even eaten in a restaurant (other than fast food) alone yet. Not just in Chicago -ever. I was gonna put my big girl panties and a brave face on and do this!!!
I went to the 5:15pm showing of Piglet’s Big Movie. (yes, I am a dork) I am a HUGE Piglet fan and had been waiting for the movie to come out for months.
I bought my ticket at 5:01, grabbed a small popcorn and diet coke and headed into-
a completely empty theater.
I love when the theater is empty. No one to glare at when they are coughing or laughing to loud.
I settled into the middle seat of a long isle with only one exit – the other side of the row was against a wall- in the mid to back of the theater.
(This was my first mistake)
The seats were plush and high backed – I loved them.
Just as I was letting myself think that no one was going to join me, 3 sets of 3 people (2 parents, 1 kid each) came in and sat down, in varying places around me, but not within atleast 5 or 6 rows of me.
Oh well, I am sure they will be quiet.
Then a disabled women and her husband came in and sat across the isle but in the far back row behind me.
The theater darkened, and the previews started.
And that’s when my horrific small-town-Iowan nightmare began.
Something I neglected to mention above was the strange feeling that someone was watching me before the previews began. I kept turning around to the door, but never saw anyone (LADIES: never neglect your intuition. NEVER.)
Anyway, as soon as the theater was dark, a dude in his 40′s came and sat IN MY ROW, blocking the escape path isle, and only TWO FREAKING SEATS from me.
In my head I am thinking “what the ‘F’ is this guy doing? There are 50,000 seats open around here, he had to sit next to me?!?!”
Oh, I will tell you what he was doing.
Ruining the Piglet’s Big Movie for me is what he was doing.
Ruining my single-small-town-girl-in-the-city-big-girl-panties-brave-face moment for me.
To keep this post PG-13, let’s just say Piglet turned this man on. Piglet turned him on so much he needed to **cough** relieve himself TWO TIMES while sitting next to me. And by relieve himself I don’t mean urinate.
I was MORTIFIED. The sound.
The smell! (yes, IT has a smell.)
I tried not to look at him as he was doing “it” cuz I was SURE he would be more **cough** enamored knowing I knew that he knew what he was doing.
I don’t remember any of the movie. I was trying so hard to peripherally watch him without him seeing me looking at him and debating if I could hurdle the 5 ft tall seats- I didn’t pay attention.
Also, I was debating -do I scream and try to get the attention of the other people in the theater? Do I scare little kids to get this whack job (PUN TOTALLY INTENDED!) to stop? My small town mind also went to ‘if I scream will he shoot/stab/punch me?”
I didn’t know – I mean for jebus sake, he was doing THAT in the Piglet Movie – who knows what else he had planned!?
So I just sat there. STUNNED.
After he was **cough** finished, he **cough** cleaned up and hightailed it out of the theater.
I was stunned. The movie only had about 15 minutes left, and as much as I didn’t want to stay, I didn’t want to leave alone, just in case he was waiting for me outside. (small-town-girl-brain —->) With a gun. Or a knife.
As soon as the movie was over, I quickly picked up my crap and hustled over to the women in the wheelchair. I explained (briefly) to her and her husband what had happened, and asked if I could walk out with them.
They were kind and sympathetic and walked with me to customer service so I could report what happened.
The 16 year old girl behind the counter was not so kind and sympathetic, since I had only seen the guy in the dark (and peripherally to boot) and I didn’t want to call the cops.I left drained and defeated.
I called a girlfriend and cried the whole bus ride home (in the dark of course).
The next few months I had a couldn’t be alone in elevators with men, sitting “on the inside” of the bus seat with a man blocking me in, etc. I would have small panic attacks and almost pass out.
When going to movies with friends (it took me almost 3 months just to go to another movie) I had to sit on the end of the row, no matter what. I still do that.
I have not been to another movie alone since then.
But tomorrow is a new day and I will be going to see Whip It ALONE.
During daylight hours.
Sitting on the isle of course.
I will let you know how it goes.
Have you ever had a moment that changes the way you view something seemingly mundane? Going to the movie theater shouldn’t traumatize anyone (unless it is a crap movie you paid WAAAAAYYYY to much for…)