Tuesday, 1 March 2011

picture this:cinema dates

Dates at the cinema have a specific position on the relationship time-line. Too early can be bad, because it implies you already have nothing to say to each other; as a first date it can be seen as trying to get someone into a dark room where they can't make a noise (or is that just me?); and as a blind date, it makes no sense at all.

But a trip to the flicks further along the time-line is dangerous too. You may have already reached the stage where you don't mind telling each other how you feel about things, you may have spent the last few months doing little but talk about your bloody feelings. This can make deciding and debating which film to see very difficult, especially if you just don't feel like seeing the same film.

I once (relationship timeline: 3yrs in) carried such a debate all the way to the cinema. I was still undecided (Blade 3 or The Royal Tenenbaums) when we hit the foyer. I had, unfortunately and typically been debating this alone, in my head. He was in no doubt as to what we would be watching, throwing his best Wesley moves as we waited for popcorn. So my genius, but totally out of the blue to him, idea of "hey! why don't we see different films, it will be fun?" did not go down well. He sulked behind me as we walked into to see ‘my’ film and we quickly reverted to gender stereotypes: I was annoyingly enthusiastic (effusive, puppy like, shrill) until the film started, he remained resolutely unimpressed (monosyllabic, miserable, distant) throughout. We didn't go to dinner to discuss the film afterwards. Or to the pub. It was a Saturday night and we went home. We got more DVDs after that. (relationship timeline: 5yrs remaining).

In the early days you will watch anything so long as it’s together. It tends to go like this:
‘do you want to come to pictures?’
‘oo lovely, what are we seeing’
’don’t know yet’
‘great, I’d love to come’. Debate done.

Here are 5 specifics in praise of getting the cinema dates going early:

1. You’re tired.
You’re in a new relationship, the adrenalin is flowing, the midweek nights of going out and staying up late and possibly all nighters spent ‘on the job’ are all taking their toll. It’s dark in the cinema, so you won’t look as rough with tiredness as you actually are. You can also have a little sleep, you can’t that do that at dinner or in a bar, or on the job - it’s embarrassing, and rude.

2. More darkness.
You can ogle or gaze adoringly without getting caught. You can use sideways AND full on glances to assess the territory, if you know what I mean. If you have yet to get physical, the darkness and the seating arrangement can lead to some nice pressing of knee against knee, with no direct eye contact or need for verbal rejection, just a knee moving away, no-one else saw it and no harm done. If you get a firm but slow knee press back, what a result. I do this to people a lot on London buses in the rush hours and in daylight, but then I’m ruthless in the pursuit of romance. Restraining order ruthless.

3. You can get drunk / high / frisky.
Yes, you can do all this later down the line too. But if you’ve never suggested it before your partner (if that's what they now are) may be a little surprised. If your relationship is near the fail stage, you may be accused of being an alcoholic/a drug fiend/a sex addict - delete as appropriate, and with bitterness. Whereas, in the early days it’s fun. Or it’s a helpful way of finding out quickly that s/he doesn’t really like getting pissed or pervy at the pictures.

4. Future romance.
Because in-jokes come thick and fast in these early, giggly days, you will easily quote bits to each other again and again, cracking up every time. These are things that will sustain you in the later months and years. Better to have cheesy lines than ‘god, remember that time you went mental in the foyer?’.

5. It’s not all about you.
You get to talk about something outside of the wonderful but intense world you are busy creating. You get a break from the giddiness of telling your best stories, and wondering if s/he likes them. You get to listen the professional storytellers for a while and save some of your own stories for dates to come. Plus, you can learn quite a lot about a person from how they react to a film. Laughing at rapenmurder scenes, a nazi-induced nob twitch, crying when a character breaks a nail - all signs of whether you will get along or not.

So, let’s all have more cinema dates with people we hardly know . . . please . . . anyone . . . please? I’ll watch anything . . .


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