I went to see 50 Shades Darker on my own this Valentine’s Day, and I wasn’t even the only one
Just the one ticket please
Valentine’s Day is a tricky one. Most spend it either with a lover, or with best friends Snapchatting pictures of cocktails with the caption ‘I don’t need no man’. But for the rest of us to which this doesn’t apply, it’s a more lonely affair. This year, I decided to take some of the pressure off my shoulders, and went to watch the new 50 Shades of Grey film alone, in one of Bristol’s fine cinemas.
This being a special day, I dressed up smart and brought along a rose, because you can never tell who you might meet – especially at an early-afternoon showing of an erotic drama. Leaving the house I felt pretty confident, and boarded the bus, middle-aged women staring at me with ‘isn’t he sweet’ in their eyes.
As I arrived at the cinema, these looks of approval quickly changed to looks of something close to fear. As I bought my ticket, I lay my rose down on the desk and, much to the bemusement of the man behind the counter, asked for one sole student single.
He looked at me briefly in the eye, before averting his gaze and replying, “just the one ticket?”. His hesitant curiosity turned to discomfort as I sheepishly nodded, turning from a well-dressed boy into a creepy man before his very eyes.
‘Who goes to 50 Shades on their own on Valentine’s Day?’ I could see him thinking. I stared back for a moment, steeling myself, then turned and walked to the screen.
I sat towards the back-left of the screen, close to the entrance. As a result of this, as people walked in, they saw the lone male – tucked away – and gave me a wide berth. This resulted in a three-chair exclusion zone, a cordon sanitaire forming around me, as the couples and fellow loners trudged into the room.
As the adverts started rolling, I noticed a fellow lone wolf finding her place a few seats to my right, and I had an equal. For the purpose of this article we’ll call her ‘Susan’. Susan was everything I expected to see here, at 50 Shades on Valentine’s Day: middle-aged and alone.
As the film began, I became bored very quickly. The first one, which I’d endured the previous evening in preparation, was shit. This was equally shit, the acting just as piss-poor as before. As soon as the film began to ‘hot up’, however, the sport of audience watching became very enjoyable indeed.
As soon as we saw Anna Steele, the main character, topless, I noticed every man in the room sit up straighter, but then pretend as if they hadn’t, so that the girlfriend by their side didn’t seem suspicious. This was echoed in Christian Grey’s appearances by many of the women in the audience, his every slap of Steele’s bottom shifting them closer to the edges of their seats.
The audience participation did, however, reach a couple of high points. ‘Susan’, the lone lady that I mentioned earlier was particularly interesting here. At one particularly grating part of the film, Grey uses some kind of sex toy on a string on Steele, and it starts to apparently vibrate. As this happened, ‘Susan’ let out a kind of half gasp half quack, then quickly piped down again.
Unnerved, I decided to press on with the film. This turned out to be unwise, as it only got worse. I was particularly creeped out when Grey picked up some kind of telescopic leg shackles, and proceeded to ‘use’ them on Steele. At this, ‘Susan’ breathed in sharply and shifted in her seat. I wanted to get out of there.
My trigger moment came when Grey began to order around an estranged woman on her knees, and I realised that I was now too uninterested and mildly worried by the film, and its audience, to continue. As I stepped up and put on my coat, a few eyes turned to me. Some spouses, who really just wanted to go, reassured their significant other with ‘no, it’s great’.
The others looked with guilt, as they had seen me, the loner, and kept away as if I was some kind of Showcase pariah, before realising I wasn’t the one enjoying softcore pornography.
As I got out, I encountered the man who had sold me my ticket earlier. He looked at me, stifled a grin, and scurried past.
I no longer cared. I was free.
Having made good time – I cut at least half an hour off the length of the film – I decided to treat myself to a lonesome Burger King.
My bacon double cheese filled the gaps, and the arteries, from which 5o Shades Darker had tried to suck my soul.
Today, on Valentine’s Day, I felt happiness at last.