Among all of the Internet’s memes, “Netflix and chill” rose to become as commonplace as owning a device with Internet access. The infamous memes show flustered individuals who had unknowingly become the target of an awkward act of seduction; the ironic caption reads, “I thought you said ‘Netflix and chill.’” It seemed like a clever inside joke understood and appreciated by a very considerable amount of people. I wasn’t one of them.
Since the misunderstood sexual innuendo incident of ninth grade, my friends have labeled me “The Innocent One.” My ears turn bright red when I hear a dirty joke (if I’m able to figure out the punch line), and I awkwardly avert my eyes from a television screen when a love scene unfolds. Since I’m not familiar with Internet memes, I’m one of the few people to actually interpret the phrase “Netflix and chill” literally. My innocent perception of the saying shattered shortly after I took my first steps into adulthood as a college student and inadvertently stumbled into one of the top five most mortifying moments of my life.
I met James* during an information session for the film club. We hit it off right away and spoke endlessly of our love for film, which led to exchanging contact information and an agreement to reunite at the next meeting to pitch our screenplay ideas. Fast forward to the meeting where we made a deal that if one of our screenplays was chosen, we’d work together on its production. As a freshman familiar with very few people on campus, I was pretty excited to have found a friend- especially one that shared my passion for film.
Score! James’ screenplay was chosen and as promised, he asked me to take on the role of producer. As a woman of my word interested in the filmmaking process, I agreed without a moment’s hesitation. The next few weeks were a staggeringly overwhelming jumble of pre-production, acting auditions and prop hunts.
James and I had just finished up our weekly meeting with our cast and crew when the weight of the stress suddenly hit me. Positive that it plagued James as well, I thought suggesting something relaxing would lighten the burden. It hit me as soon as I got back to my dorm that evening. What better way to relax than by kicking back and watching Netflix? That was my fatal mistake.
I texted James a few minutes after I’d gotten settled in at home, sending the words that sealed my fate: “Hey, this week has been crazy. Want to watch some stuff on Netflix with me?” Within 10 minutes, James agreed to come and walked over to my dorm. Leading James from the lobby to my room, I still didn’t sense any suspicious activity. Silly, naive Tamiera.
As soon as I welcomed James into my room, his entire demeanor changed. His attitude swerved from upbeat and outgoing to reserved and awkward in two seconds flat. His voice barely raised above a soft murmur when he spoke. This new James made me feel super uncomfortable so I powered up Netflix to ease the weird tension.
Scrolling through the movie selections, James suggested the movie called Don Jon and praised it as a great comedy. Within five seconds of hitting play, the screen was lit up with graphically sexual images. I envisioned my psyche as a bubbling cauldron of liquid distress as my face, burning with chagrin, froze in horror. Disturbed, I resigned myself to watching the rest of the onscreen horror through my eyelids. Just when I thought the worst was over, I felt James’ hot breath on my neck and his hands slowly creeping around my waist.
Like a frog thrown into scorching water, I tore myself out of James’ grasp and barrel rolled across the room. “What exactly do you think you’re doing?” I nearly shouted. James, completely bewildered by my sudden frenzy, could only stare at me with wide, alarmed eyes. We sat facing each other in a very tense silence for what seemed like an entire Friends marathon before he began to explain himself.
“You invited me over to watch a movie,” he replied with an expression of genuine confusion on his face. Sensing my ignorance, he went on to explain the connotation of inviting someone over to watch Netflix. My face revealed an expression of calm understanding but internally, I was screaming at the top of my lungs. James watched me for a while, probably expecting some sort of rational response, but I knew if I opened my mouth, I would be opening the gates to a slew of incoherent gibberish muddled with profanities. When I regained the ability to communicate like a civilized human being, I politely asked James to leave. I needed to sleep off my humiliation in peace.
Three weeks of awkward film production later, my friendship with James never recovered and I learned my first college lesson. When inviting a friend over to watch a movie, be sure to emphasize the fact that you just want to watch a movie.
*Name has been changed