It wasn’t that the chairs were uncomfortable. After shelling out for what had been billed as a “Premium Cinema Experience” they were practically four poster beds. The red velvet was new and plush, the back and headrest were at the ideal angle for viewing the screen and the armrests were sturdy enough to keep distance enough between strangers (and movable enough to close that distance for other purposes if and as required). Even the film itself was living up to expectations.
No, the problem wasn’t the upholstery. The problem was the people. The people who brought in food in crinkly wrappers. The people who couldn’t go more than three scenes without illuminating their phones, creating for the people behind them the galaxy’s most transient and irritating constellations. The people who slurped. The people who rustled. The people who TALKED.
Some time thereafter a small, experimental screening series started at the cinema. They never played on the larger screens and maybe they never would be in the theatres with the hydraulic seats, but the “Silent Movies” sessions became a modest success. The rules were simple: you could laugh at something funny, gasp at something shocking or discretely cry at something sad, but otherwise you were silent. The premium ticket price went to paying the ushers who ejected those who preferred, shall we say, a more interactive cinematic experience.
Not everyone understood the appeal, but those who did went all the time.
Introvert Fairy Tales: Cinderella. The party was in full swing when Cinderella made her escape. Curfews were such marvellous things; no one needed to know that they were self-imposed. The party was going well, but even with the quietest of corners to sit in or the most interesting of conversations to stumble into, there always came a point where enough was enough and she claimed a pressing need to be elsewhere. The need to leave was no less real for being voluntary. Goodbyes were said, plans were made to see people again and, finally, Elsewhere was attained.
Elsewhere could be anywhere: outside on the stairs with her shoes off, breathing deeply in the cool night air with naught by the stars for company, or equally back at home curled up in front of the fire with a blanket, slippers and a cup of tea, watching the sparks dance and the embers cool; indeed anywhere that gave her the time and space to think and reflect and unwind after an enjoyable evening.
Once upon a time there was a woman who never lived in a castle, never married a prince, and always did all her own housework.
She also never had paparazzi following her while she was on holidays so they could take topless pictures of her with a telephoto lens and distribute them for public consumption. So there was that.
Introvert Fairy Tales: Briar Rose was born a happy, responsive baby to her doting parents. Eager to celebrate the birth of their first daughter with family and friends, they invited the whole community to join them in a feast.
At the feast, the people brought gifts and voiced their hopes and prayers for the new baby. As more and more people spoke, one woman sat in the corner looking more and more uncomfortable. These people were delivering curses. They used different words, of course, but they were terrible things to wish on a poor child: to be forever judged on her appearance, to be burdened by expectations; to be always seeking the approval of others.
Towards the end of the evening, when the crowd had died down, the woman approached Briar Rose and finally spoke.
“Life will be hard. It always is. These people seem to have ensured it. But you’ll pick up hobbies and one day, if you’re very lucky, you’ll end up discovering a craft that you love. Time will fly while you do it, you’ll be completely focused on the task at hand and it will help with the stress.” She paused, considering her final words. “May you never get RSI.” And with that she left.
Briar Rose never did get RSI, and moreover she never pricked her finger on a spindle because she developed callouses on her hands in all the right places from a very early age.
Once upon a time there was a young woman called Belle who fell in love with a library. Sure, there was a guy and a rose and a particularly talkative tea set, but mostly there were books. And they all lived happily ever after.
Introvert Fairy Tales: Red was going to visit her Grandmother for Sunday brunch. Their standing arrangement was that she brought the baked goods and her Grandmother provided the best and strongest Italian coffee known to mankind. Unfortunately one of the downsides of living in a big city is constant hounding on the streets. Not even wearing the ubiquitous hoodie helped. On the way to the bakery from her small flat, Red had already been asked to change her mobile plan, attend four sales on cut price consumer electronics, two parties with live music, use a new brand of hand cream and give to no less than three charitable causes by people with fluorescent t-shirts, dazzling smiles and enviable but intimidating handshake strength.
Once the croissants had been acquired she was heartily sick of these unwanted interruptions. By the time she started getting wolf whistles from creepy guys making vulgar commentary on the size of her body parts, she was practically sprinting to her Grandmother’s house. How difficult should it be to move from Point A to Point B in a city unmolested?
When it came time to leave, her Grandmother (God bless her) brought out a gift for Red from her basket. Red opened the parcel to find an enormous pair of noise cancelling headphones. She was quietly thrilled. No unobtrusive earbuds for her any more, oh no, these things were like half melons on the side of her head.
On her way home the wolf whistles continued and the spruikers were still trapping the unsuspecting in their sales pitches masked as conversation, but Red’s journey was blissfully quiet.
Introvert fairy tales: Ariel grew up on a research boat with her dad. She had a happy childhood, helping him in his work as a marine biologist. When she got older her father decided she needed to come out of her shell and have more interaction with people.
She was invited to a party and asked to dance. It didn’t go so well. She never really got her land legs for a start and decided that, all in all, dancing wasn’t really her cup of tea. Everyone else was making small talk. She didn’t say much. She had nothing to contribute on the subjects of reality TV and celebrity gossip. She would happily have spoken for hours about something of substance, but this continual babble was boring her witless.
She went back out on the boat and continued the family vocation. She still doesn’t talk much, but she has been published in a couple of peer reviewed journals.
Snow White escapes from her family who follow a strict fruitarian diet and flees into the forest. She is taken in by a bunch of kind and friendly men with stable jobs, but eventually the stress of living in a share house with seven other people who are fond of communal singing leads her to self-medicate and OD.
Her housemates take care of her as best they can, but don’t really understand the problem. Eventually a woodcutter comes along and mentions that he has a cottage not far from here, she’d have her own space and he’s a pretty quiet guy and is out a lot anyway so won’t get underfoot. Snow White nods and moves in to the small extra room in the cottage that very day.
Every second Saturday she goes to have lunch with her seven old housemates and they have a fantastic time (she still loves them dearly) and she has the two whole weeks to recover in peace and quiet.
Grumpy is vaguely jealous of Snow White’s new arrangement and is certain he’d have a different nickname if he got a bit of peace and quiet too. He has been seen hauling timber and construction tools to an undisclosed location.
Rapunzel is happily sitting in her tower. She uses the quiet and solitude to study and reflect, becoming a leading expert in skyscraper engineering. Someone comes along and starts randomly shouting at her through the window to let him touch her and pull her hair. Whether or not he was drunk, this is completely inappropriate behaviour. She drops hardback books on his head until he goes away. She walks downstairs, collects her books, and goes back to her room. They all lived happily ever after (after the effects of the concussion wore off).