By Jennifer Richardson
My husband and I went on a date recently and we chose to see a movie. I enjoy movies but we rarely go to them. Scheduling is difficult, and we often cannot find anything that seems like the cinematic quality will be equal to the money spent.
But on this day we had decided that we would brave the weather and head out to see a movie that had caught my attention.
It was one of those movies that was heavily dependent on character development. There was no action, no car chases, and no fiery explosions—just the story of two people and how their lives unfold around a set of unforeseen events.
No doubt it was chosen for me; other than westerns and the occasional comedy there are not many movies my husband wants to see. But he gladly accompanied me because I told him I would like to go, which I genuinely appreciated.
We arrived at the theater, bought our tickets, and paid an outrageous amount of money for a popcorn we could share, and settled in to our seats to enter someone else’s world for a few hours.
When the movie was over and the credits were rolling, we talked about our responses to it. I thought the movie was captivating and well told, and filled with the real life moments and dialog that rarely make it into movies but generally make up most of our real lives.
My husband acknowledged that the story was interesting, but thought it was slow, with too many dramatic pauses and never-ending silent shots of landscapes and people doing nothing but thinking.
We laughed about our different take on the same subject, and how predictable we both are when it comes to movies and the reasons we both feel the way we do. I thanked him for his willingness to come with me I and promised we would see a movie he would enjoy sometime soon.
He left to bring the car around to pick me up and I stood up from my theater seat to gather my coat and bag from the chair in front of me. As I turned around I saw a woman who had been watching the movie too. She had a look on her face that said she was also contemplating what she had just watched.
She was clearly rolling the experience over in her mind. I knew just from the look on her face that I wanted to talk with her about her response to the film.
An inner battle went on for a few seconds in my own mind. Who talks to strangers in a half-empty movie theater. Would she think I was odd if I introduced myself. The pressure to simply walk out without making a human connection was quite strong.
I pushed those thoughts from my mind and made eye contact, and politely asked her what she thought of the film. It took a surprising amount of courage.
She immediately smiled and offered her own perceptions of the human drama we had witnessed. She was articulate and friendly, and she was thrilled to chat with someone about what the movie and the message it portrayed.
We talked for several minutes. It was an unforeseen, but delightful, conversation. We eventually walked toward the exit of the movie theater and continued to talk about movies in general. We exchanged names, talked about what our spouses do for a living, and our movie-going habits.
Before long a friendship was born. Right in the middle of a movie theater lobby, with people passing beside us, patrons rushing to the concession stand, and my husband waiting patiently at the curb visible through the glass exit doors.
Just before my new friend and I left the theater we realized we had an acquaintance in common. We exchanged cell numbers and agreed to meet again to see movie in the future.
I climbed into the car for the ride home and I was glad I had spoken to a person I did not already know. It was ironic to consider that I could have passed up the opportunity for a real human connection after spending two hours exploring human interactions from the safe distance of a movie screen.
I was glad we were not so absorbed in artificial things that we missed the real ones.