The other day I was sitting in the lobby of a movie theater. I had messed up when I checked the times on the Internet, so when I got there I had about an hour to kill before the movie started. Because I had expected to get there just before the movie was about to start, and I had planned to come home directly afterwards, I didn’t bring a book or anything else to work on in the meantime.
Usually when I see movie, I usually plan it so that I miss the opening trailers. Depending on how many there are, they can take up to ten minutes. And I don’t know about you, but I love popcorn. Especially movie popcorn. And it if I go into the theater before the trailers even start, it takes an extraordinary amount of willpower to NOT eat the popcorn during the trailers.
This time however, I was very early. The theater had several tables set up in the lobby, supposedly for idiots like me who can’t read an Internet movie timetable correctly. So I decided to watch people, which is something I sometimes like to do. People are interesting because they can be like a moving, walking breathing mirror into your soul. Like those ink blot tests, where you look at a smudge of ink and say whether it looks like a butterfly or a blender full of screaming babies, based your level of psychological depravity.
People can work the same way. If you are having a bad day, and you got into a big fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend on the way to the “insufficient funds” flashing ATM, you’d likely not see too many happy, smiling carefree people. You’d likely only spot the people that match your mood. And if you did see happy people that seemed to be enjoying life, you’d like wonder what was wrong with them.
On the flip side, if you just finished an hour-long sexual marathon filled with several orgasms, and forgot about that ten thousand dollar bonus that was direct deposited into your account, you’d likely see a world filled with happiness and pleasure. Any smiling people you saw would likely make you even happier, as they were validating your current viewpoint. Those sourpusses you ran into would likely receive your sympathy and compassion.
So there I was, sitting there, watching people. I was in a fairly neutral mood, not extraordinary happy, nor manic-depressive, so I was able to watch people with kind of an objective curiosity.
One thing that struck me was how obvious it appeared to see how some couples were happy together, and some seemed to be going through the motions. Even watching how some people were holding hands was interesting. There was usually one partner that was more invested in the holding of the hands than the other partner. One partner was doing most of the holding, and the other partner was simply offering their hand to be held.
And the partner doing most of the holding seemed to be a bit apprehensive and uncertain, while the partner merely offering their hand looked a bit bored.
It reminded me of a scene in the latest M. Night Shyamalan move “Happening,” where a couple was sitting at a dinner table with a strange old lady. After a few moments of observation, she asked the couple who was chasing whom. When they looked at her questioningly, she explained that in all relationships, one person is always doing the chasing, and one person is doing the attracting.
It seemed clear from just watching how couples were holding hands who was chasing whom, and who was being chased. Sometimes people like to be chased, and do specific things to entice the chaser. Other times the person being chased gets bored, and wishes the chaser would go and chase somebody else.
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in both situations. I’ve chased, and I’ve been chased. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. Chasing is fantastic if you feel you have a good chance of catching your prey. Being chased is wonderful if you really want to be caught.
But chasing something or someone you know on some level that you can never catch is really depressing. And being chased relentlessly by someone you wish would go away is sometimes even worse.
Sometimes there is much fun to be had in just the chase, because once you catch your prey, you realize that chasing was more fun.
I did see a few couples that seemed to be equally into each other. I suppose they were chasing each other, and caught each other, and then decided to chase something together.