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Theoden Janes: Going 'Grey' solo was Fifty Shades of Awkward

“Hey, wanna see ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with me?”

If you’re a married man, there’s no way to ask anyone that question without sounding creepy. For example:

Me: “Hey, wanna see ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with me?”

My wife: “Why in the world would YOU want to see THAT? Ohhh, I get it. You think the chick is hot, right? Typical. Here, save the $12 and leaf through this Victoria’s Secret catalog.”

Me: “Hey, wanna see ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with me?”

My friend (insert any man’s name): “Hahaha! Good one, dude! My wife is actually going with some other moms this weekend. We should get wings that night at Hooters.”

Me: “Hey, wanna see ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with me?”

My friend (insert any woman’s name): “No. I’m not that kind of girl, and I don’t think your wife is, either.”

So, I made plans to see the not-porn movie – starring not-porn actress Dakota Johnson and not-porn actor Jamie Dornan – all by myself. And if at this point you are wondering why this particular married man would choose to see “Fifty Shades of Grey” by himself, I say to you: It’s my job.

And, it being my job, I walked around last week announcing to friends and co-workers and anybody else I had to make small talk with: “I am going to see ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ on Wednesday night. For work.”

The first few times, I winked after sharing the news; I figured it would make a good kicker. But I think people didn’t understand the winking part, since doing so caused them to clear their throats and excuse themselves. So I cut that part out. (Note to self: Only slightly less creepy without the wink.)

On the morning of the screening, I was Fifty Shades of Stressed Out.

I changed outfits four or five times. These pants are too baggy for this kind of movie. These pants are too tight. This color shirt will send the wrong message to other people in the theater. This pair of boxers is too itchy. And no way am I wearing that trenchcoat.

At the theater, things got really awkward. The studio’s representative greeted me at the entrance: “Good to see you! So, let’s see ... oh, you’re alone? That’s, um, interesting!” I winked at him, and immediately regretted it. Then I flashed him a thumbs-up, basically just making it worse.

Inside, I spotted a female friend who’d scored free passes, smiled and waved to her. She looked away, shrank down into her seat, and appeared to suddenly answer a call on her cellphone. I spotted another pair of women I knew, sidled over to them, and said “Hello!” while resisting the urge to wink. They smiled politely, then one of them put her handbag in the empty seat next to her, told me to enjoy the movie (she may have rolled her eyes, but it was too dark to tell), and pointed up the aisle.

I took off my jacket and found a seat in the middle of a crowded row, realizing that with no good place to put my coat, I’d have to hold it in my lap – which probably made the people on either side of me nervous.

Finally, the house lights went down.

As it turned out, “Fifty Shades of Grey” had plenty of what this audience came to see: sex in beds, sex in chairs, sex in bathtubs, sex in blindfolds, sex in neckties, sex in Christian Grey’s “Red Room of Pain.”

I sat through it all, alone, wearing an outfit it took me 20 minutes to pick out, with my coat in my lap, limbs held uncomfortably close together so as to minimize the odds of brushing up against the people next to me, staring straight ahead at the screen but frankly thinking about one thing and one thing only.

I should have just gone with the Victoria’s Secret catalog.


(Click here to read Observer film critic Lawrence Toppman’s review of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Spoiler alert: He hated it.)