Saturday, October 29, 2011

Back in the World

Our apartment number is in the 2000s, so we assume that means there are at least 2000 apartments in our complex.  Okay, okay, probably not that many, but it is an exceedingly large complex nonetheless. Somehow, out of all 2000ish apartments, we received the one with the least amount of privacy.  We have three windows in our apartment (thankfully they are all quite large windows), and all of them face the same direction: out to the parking lot.  We realize that as the weather is cooling down and we are starting to keep our windows open permanently, our in-home privacy is basically gone.  Everyone going to or getting out of their cars can see and hear what we are doing inside our home.  To be fair, though, there are many other apartments in that same predicament.  What makes ours especially unique are the apartments directly across from and below us.  There is a nice, single, older man who lives below us.  He likes to keep his front door wide open to get the optimal breeze through his tv-room.  He sits on his couch or laz-e-boy chair all day long (apparently he doesn't work) and all night long (apparently he doesn't sleep) and watches us go in and out of our house.  He is a very friendly fellow, and likes to say hello every time he sees us.  We don't mind too much, but good grief, sometimes I just want to be able to leave my house without someone knowing every single time!  Even worse is the big-haired sullen guy who lives directly across from us.  He doesn't seem to work or sleep either.  He's not content to sit inside his house though.  He sits out on his front porch, smoking and staring directly into our bedroom window.  Throughout the day.  Throughout the night.  It doesn't matter.  He creeps us out.  

We figure that situation is basically unchangeable.  We like our apartment in all other respects and I am just grateful to have a home of my own again.  There is something else, though, on which I would love to receive your advice.  This weekend I am facing an extraordinary dilemma, one I have not encountered since middle-school.  

I came home from work with an R-rated movie in my bag yesterday.  I choose not to watch R-rated movies.  I hate (hate) watching man-to-man violence (the qualifier was added because I never had much trouble watching storm-troopers or orcs fall in battle...) and I really don't like watching other people's intimate moments either.  Before I went to college I could count the number of PG-13 movies I had watched on one hand, and even now I am fairly discriminatory about which movies I watch, regardless of rating.  Somehow, though, my movie choices have never really inhibited friendships.  In high school, my friends somehow knew about my beliefs and choices, and we weren't much of a movie-watching crowd anyway.  In college, I watched far more movies than I probably should have, but no one ever tried to press an R on me.  At Cambridge, my roommate forbade me from watching even the trailers of some of the movies she really enjoyed, automatically appointing herself guard over my movie choices without any prompting from me.  But now I'm living a real life, working a real full-time job for the first time in my life and spending lunch breaks with co-workers who don't know much about me.  I want to be friends with these people and already feel at a slight disadvantage because I don't go partying with them on the weekends.  

On Thursday, they were asking me what I was going to be for Halloween.  I told them I hadn't given it much thought, especially since last Halloween I was in England, where the bigger autumn holiday is Guy Fawkes day.  As soon as I mentioned the British holiday, all three girls lit up and said "V for Vendetta!  That movie is soooooo good!"  I have heard that the movie is good, actually, but I've never had the slightest desire to see it.  When they found out I had never seen it, they insisted that I do so immediately, one of them chiming in that she owned it and I could borrow it from her.  I think I gave a non-committal smile, which ended up not being enough to dispel their enthusiasm.  The next morning, when I walked into the break room for some water, my co-worker held the movie up with excitement.  I somehow made it out of the break room without taking it from her, but about ten minutes later she was laying it on my desk for me.  I didn't know what to say.

I'm sorry to admit that my first desperate response was, "Dave, do you think we can find it edited this weekend??"  My second response was....nothing.  I have no idea what to do now.  How do I explain my choices?  I have a sneaky suspicion that they will be completely aghast.  No drinking they can understand perhaps, even if they don't agree.  But not watching certain movies not because of genre taste, but because of content?  

I think my insecurity derives from self-reflection post-middle school.  When I was younger I was just as confident in my beliefs as I am now, but I wasn't afraid to declare them loudly.  I have thought about this a lot, and I genuinely believe, still, that I did not mean to boast or come across as holier-than-thou.  But I think I did come across that way, and some of my closest friendships suffered as a result (something I still regret).  Now that I know how potentially arrogant it can sound when I say "Sorry, I don't watch those things," I have lost all of my ability to say anything at all.  I'm stuck.  Any ideas?           

5 comments:

Ashley said...

In all honesty... The difference between the edited and non-edited version is cutting out swear words and about 1 minute (total) of violence. (I watched the edited version, but I was with my cousin who had seen the full version)

Just close your eyes and mute it during the fight scenes? Find out which scenes are the most violent and skip them? Try to find the edited version?

Also, I focus more on the content more than the rating. There are many rated-R movies I've watched where I've skipped the one scene that gives it the R rating and then it's seriously more benign than most PG-13 movies...

Explain to them that you don't like watching movies with lots of violence or sex or swearing, etc. And that it's a personal choice. I think they'll respect that.

Gini Lee said...

That lack of privacy sounds awful!

People are really understanding. Their reaction will definitely be, "I could never live that way." But they will most likely respect you and, honestly, they will probably feel bad for pressuring you (unknowingly) to watch this movie. I have never really been very bold in declaring my beliefs, but I also knew where to draw the line and I did it (more or less), and I have never had anyone stop being my friend or think less of me.

I think that if this is a choice that you have made and still want to stick by, then you need to not watch this movie. Personally, I don't have a problem watching rated R movies (because there are a lot of awesome R movies!) though I respect people who have made that decision in their own life and stuck with it.

Joyous said...

So sorry about the awkward neighbors. Good thing you and Dave are so good about laughing at the parts of life that ought to be laughed at.

I (humbly) vote that you begin as you intend to continue. Better to tell them now than next time they offer you a rated-R movie and they say, "Then why did you take that last one?" I have full confidence that you'll be able to find away to express your sincere gratitude for the thoughtfulness of the gesture and the friendship they've offered you as the new girl on the block while still explaining your choices. Hooray for Amy!

Boyd said...

Today I was thinking about the Admonition of Paul, found in Philippians 4:8, a book to which a wide variety of Christian faith traditions subscribe. There Paul suggests we think on things that are honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. Your post made me think of Susanna Wesley, who's son John, went off to college and asked his mother how to handle the diverse and worldly matters to which he found available to take in there. She responded: "Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you..." (Susanna Wesley Letter, June 8, 1725)
So to me, it's not just a Mormon thing. For me, i've noticed that since determining about 20 years ago to be more selective in the movies I'll watch, a smaller amount of violence or language really disturbs me more than it once did as my tastes and sensitivieits have changed. I just tell friends that its "a little too harsh for my tastes.

Dave said...

So yesterday, in the spirit of friendship, I decided to approach our young friend and learn more about him. Our spy's name is Sergio. He seems like a very pleasant person, and it was reassuring that he had no idea we were new to the area...

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