We all do weird things we may not like to admit. I love going to the movies by myself. There, I said it.
Some people brag about finishing the LA Marathon, I brag about seeing discounted matinees.
I’m good at the movies. I know the show times. I sit in the back, put my feet up on the empty chairs and laugh and cry during the previews.
As a Steingart, we have a long history of seeing movies by ourselves. My dad arrives 20 minutes early to see movies like “Cowboys and Aliens” by himself in the theatre. My grandpa, Sid Steingart, cheered on Doc Holliday in “Gunfight at the Ok Corral” by himself. And I bet his dad, Old Man Steingart, sat front row at the premiere of “Birth of a Nation” complaining about the pain in his neck.
And yes I, the same person who drank Dickel’s and saw the NC-17 rated, “Shame” at the Los Feliz 3 by himself, returned to see “Jeff Who Lives at Home” on a rainy Saturday in Los Angeles.
Before the film, I popped into the local coffee shop for an iced lattee where I caught the skinny tie wearing barista drinking on the job. Because he didn’t greet me, I almost pointed and said, “Coffee is for customers, bro.”
High on coffee I became extra excited about the prospect of seeing not just one but two movies!
In order to sneak into “Friends with Kids” I would have to wait a full hour. Normally, I time my double features better. My move is stay until the credits are over and then slip into the bathroom, fake pee then sneak into the next picture. When you have an hour to kill, it’s hard to spend that much time hiding out in the men’s room.
Plus if I’m sneaking into a movie I feel entitled to see the picture in its entirety.
You never know what kind of crowd you are going to get with an opening weekend matinee. When I saw “Young Adult” at the Regency Pasadena I was one of two people at the screening. It was just me and one female. I didn’t want things to get awkward. I should have just sat next to her.
There were a lot of good folks sitting by themselves at the 1:30pm screening of “Jeff Who Lives at Home.” I kind of wanted to invite everyone over for dinner.
I smiled at the black female a few seats away who was blowing her nose. A flirty blonde couple sat to my left whispering in each other’s ears. I tried to scope out the scene for new friends and love interests. It was difficult to see in the dark, but I thought I saw a silhouette of Fred Armisen. Why would Armisen be at this screening? He’s on Saturday Night Live….which is on hiatus for three weeks. And he’s a hipster and this is Los Feliz and we are seeing an indie film. Armisen in the house!
The films starts as we meet Jeff (Jason Segal) who is obsessed with the movie “Signs.” He gets a call from someone asking for Kevin.
“There is no Kevin,” Jeff responds.
After Jeff hangs up the phone, he rides a bus where he sees a young male wearing a basketball jersey with the name “Kevin” printed on the back who he follows off the bus.
This was my sign. I would reenact what I just saw on the screen with Fred Armisen and follow him out the theatre.
Fred watch began.
“That him?” I wondered. “No, just a guy with glasses and curly hair.”
A few more trickled out with no Fred in sight. Perhaps Fred would stay for the credits. For all I know he was plotting to sneak into “Friends With Kids.”
I waited patiently until I saw Armisen rise from his seat with a female companion. I darted out of the theatre right behind him. His lady friend asked him what he thought of the film.
“I liked it,” he said softly.
Surely, I would tell Armisen that I love Portlandia.
Fred stood outside of the theatre making small talk with his lady.
“What next?” she asked.
“I don’t know. What do you want to do?” I overheard as I surely blew right past him without saying a word.
While the thought of creeping up on Armisen seemed fun, I have a reputation to uphold. I’m a part of the solo film going community. One guy saying the wrong thing and we as a minority will be further scrutinized.
We respect other people’s privacy. In exchange we are not bothered at the local cinemaplex. We leave the theatre in anonymity and return to our lives. And some of us walk north on Vermont and immediately call our moms to say, “I just saw Fred Armisen!”
Just another reason I love going to the movies by myself.