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He stays through the credits

I thought my boyfriend was odd.

Every movie we watched in a theater was the same: Shared popcorn, hands held, laughing at the same scenes. He was the perfect date, until the movies ended. My guy was under the strange impression when the movie was over, it wasn’t really over. As everyone around us stood up and made their way past us, down the stairs, to the exits, he stayed.

He watched the credits.

This made me strangely nervous. Everyone leaves when the credits start to roll, right? Maybe a few will stay to see who played that one dude with the accent and the eyepatch, but then they’ll pack up their trash and exit. He’d sit back in his seat, munch the popcorn stragglers in the bottom of the bucket, and seemed to read—and care—who the assistant to the first best key boy caterer’s driver was. It made me feel self-conscious as we were climbed over or as the cleaning crew arrived to prepare the theater for the next show.

Despite his bizarre credit-watching habit, I married my boyfriend. He is now my ex-boyfriend. Some things never change, however.

We watch the credits. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve used movie credits to hunt for baby names. We talk about what we just saw. We anxiously await for the list of songs to see what we could download. We let the world rush up, out, and around us while remaining still. Sometimes, we’ve been treated to bonus scenes after the credits roll and feel a bit smug our patience paid off.

Why is everyone in a rush to bottleneck themselves in the narrow hallway to the exit? Why the stampede to the bathrooms (okay, that I can understand), the parking lot, the locations where crowds and cars clog and tempers flare? When everyone leaves at once, everyone leaves at once. Yuck.

Last night, we had a rare date out of the house. My dear mother-in-law hung out with the kids so we could attend a preview screening of a movie that will be released in a few weeks. Sadly, we arrived a bit late so we didn’t get in to the theater. Not wanting to waste our opportunity, we decided to see The Descendants with George Clooney. I won’t wreck it for you if you haven’t seen it, but it’s not exactly a romantic comedy. There’s death, betrayal, rebellion, confusion, complexity, and a few laughs. The subject matter is rich, depressing, redemptive. It acknowledges our spouses are our love, our joy, and very often our pain.

There was no question about riding the movie to it’s end. We did.

Later, as I prepared for bed, a truth about my husband popped into my head. That still happens after 16+ years of togetherness, which is a testimony to the complexity of marriage. Or maybe I’m just a slow learner.

I was thinking about the first months of our relationship and all the movies we saw. I thought about the credits and how it made me deeply uncomfortable to not join the crowds, the flow of people. I didn’t see my boyfriend’s dedication to the credits as a sign he was a man up for the long haul. I didn’t see it as a sign of patience. I didn’t see it as a sign he had respect for art and the people who do it well.

But now I do. He stayed through the credits. That simple practice reveals who he is in more ways than I ever imagined.

actual colorado sunset

When the music swells, when the sun sets on the horizon, when the actors are in silhouette and the screen goes black, he won’t quit. He’ll sit and wait and hold my hand. He’ll appreciate what it took to piece the story together.

20 comments to He stays through the credits

  • Love this! Thanks for sharing. I just love how you write Gretchen x

  • Sonja Lange

    I really really enjoyed that.

  • Great post Gretchen! Perspective and wisdom, almost always guaranteed when you write. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brian

    Yup, Liz is one of “those”. 🙂 I sympathize with you and I still find myself anxious to join the crowd and get on our way. But this is a very interesting metaphor indeed.

  • My brother and my husband have converted me into a credit-watcher. It is a fun time, now that I’ve relaxed and enjoyed it rather than worrying over how weird it seemed to others. I have a couple of friends that work in show biz now, so sometimes I get to see their name up on the big screen. That doesn’t hurt.

    Anyway, I think you’re right. It is a sign of someone that will finish something, will sit back and enjoy everything, rather than just rush from one thing to another. It can also be a sign of someone that wants to acknowledge someone’s hard work. That’s the reason my brother gave me. If I worked on the movie, wouldn’t I want people to stay to see my name? Even strangers? Yep.

  • You are a delight. And now I’m gonna start watching the credits.

  • What a great post, Gretchen! We, too, watch the credits! I *LOVE* the scenes they sneak in at the end. 😉

  • Such a great post! Got a bit choked up. Thankful for the love you and your husband have, and the story you’ve been given

  • This post is perfection and sweetness. Love it.

  • Beautiful, Gretchen. Lovely tribute to a man who knows how to stick around.

    I like credits, too, more than I like crowds. Excellent metaphor about your ever-boyfriend!

  • I hesitate to get up after the movie is over too. Though, I don’t read the credits, I’m always secretly hoping there will be an encore with those funny outtakes or more scenes.

    LOVE your outlook on this!

  • OMG. My husband does the SAME thing! However, he only began doing this after our older son was in film school. Now he’s a film editor and #2 is at NYU doing the same thing—film. I am destined to be waiting it out in the theater forever:) Thanks for letting me know we are in good company.

  • My aunt Cindi is a sound editor in Hollywood and my daughter is an actress… so I wait for the credits to0 and I love it when you get the extra treat of the out-takes that everyone else who rushed out missed! It’s also like when people leave the Bronco game early… um hello! don’t you know the Broncos play their best ball in the last two minutes?

  • We should double date to the movies sometime. We always stay to the very end too. Even our kids expect it now (the few times all of us are able to go together…)

  • What a poignant post, a valentine to your ex-boyfriend (loved that). I haven’t met him yet, but I already like him. I have always stuck around through the credits, for many of the very reasons you describe. Baby names? Me too. Now I’ll make a list for future grandchildren.

    In fact? A pet peeve is when the credits run so swiftly or are too small that you can’t read them. Why would they do that? Such a waste. But still good hand-holding time. Double date, soon, okay?

  • I’m feeling guilty for getting up during the credits. And I’m in the business, sort of, so I might actually recognize a name or two, but it’s that “gotta get out so I can get to that next thing already” motivation. I think I’m going to make myself sit through the credits next time.

  • Oh love it. We stay for the credits, too. Also, I saw The Descendants yesterday and had no idea what it was about, just that it was nominated. Um, I liked it a lot (his daughters! Wow) but I also cried all the makeup off my face and down my neck. (her parents!!) I definitely appreciated the comic relief in those moments. Well done.


  • Hil

    Oh, swoon! So beautiful and romantic and valentacular to think of you two holding hands at the movies throughout the years. Inspiring.

  • My husband watches the credits, too. Always has – and now I do, too. 🙂

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