I know, I know, this is the sort of epiphany that isn't supposed to be an epiphany, in that class of Realizations Adora Has Way Too Late (like "Three left turns make a right? WHAAAAAT?" as my classmate patiently taught me me how to make my robot turn in my comp sci and engineering class, or learning how to tie my shoes when I was...uhhh...older than 10, or finally doing precalc over the summer before my senior year).
But this realization has deeper roots than sucky spatial reasoning or laziness in the shoe-tying department or math avoidance. Consciously thinking, "Huh, other people watch stuff for entertainment by themselves" made me reflect on why I don't.
One of my neighbors, around my age, has a TV in his own room...and in almost every other room of his house. My family owns a grand total of one TV, so out of necessity turning on the TV at all has been a family affair since I was a kid. It started with watching episodes of Friends with my parents, laughing at all the jokes before I was old enough to understand what most of them meant. Then we watched 60 Minutes and America's Funniest Home Videos, switching between ABC and CBS in time to see some dude getting whacked in the balls on one channel and some dude getting subpoenaed before Congress on the other (obviously, AFV and 60 Minutes aren't that different).
When I was a tad bit older Saturday Night Live became the latest family tradition, and when I got a little older yet we started piling into the living room on Thursday nights to watch the Big Bang Theory, religiously, at 8pm. Back in the DVD days of Netflix, we had to come to a consensus on which movies to order; grudgingly, my family once agreed to watch the thinly-veiled political commentary movie Miral, if only because I put up with my sister's 1990s chick flicks and Mom's French romantic dramas. (I allied with my dad on Humphrey Bogart/Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn movies and weird comedies). When we started Netflix Instant Play, the member of the family who skipped ahead and watched a later episode of Arrested Development without the rest of the clan (cough ADRIANNA cough) would get scolded.
The only show I ever watched by myself, without my mom or my dad or my sister or friends around, was NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. But that was never really for fun fun the same way the Big Bang Theory or Friends was for fun fun. It was fun, it just wasn't fun ^2. You know.
It was chatting with people on Facebook that tipped me off to the fact that I was weird. They'd tell me "I'm watching X show right now" (while chatting, which is pretty blasphemous--seriously, who talks while watching TV?!?! That's like farting while praying or something, right?) and I'd realize Wow, people have fun by themselves.
People have fun by themselves.
Why should that be so surprising?
My first love was reading, and reading books is the poster girl of solitary fun. Sure, you can read to someone else, but it's basically an individual thing. Except there's that scene from A Single Man (one of my favorite movies, by the way) where the two are reading, and it's gorgeous and AHHH
I've decided that I want to make having fun by myself more of a priority, because, extroverted as I am, being around people can be as exhausting as it is exhilarating. I don't need to call up a friend every time I want to watch a movie, and I can give myself permission to watch the last episode of Bob's Burgers without my sister (sorry, Adrianna).
After all, if I divide my life into this false binary of alone + working vs. with people + having fun, I'm never going to know what my laugh sounds like in an empty room, with my covers pulled up to my chin as I watch some Monty Python movie for the 3rd time.
And I think the lone laugh might just be beautiful.