The Day I Was Afraid of Judy Dench

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Philomena is not a scary movie. It’s a heart-warming tale about a woman discovering what may have happened to the son that was taken away from her in Ireland. I wanted to see it as Steve Coogan is one of my favorites. And my mom wanted to go.

I rarely go to the movies with my mom, so this was going to be a fun outing. She had nothing to do and my dad was at a fishing show. She was going to go to my Aunt and Uncle’s house afterwards where she would meet up with my dad, so I could just drop her off and then she didn’t have to drive by herself home.

We headed out to Barrington and got our tickets. I’ve been to the theater many times. It’s a big theater, but a lot of these art house movies will play there for a while due to the 30 screens.

When we walked into Theater 12, there was a man standing at the end of the long hallway that led from the door into the auditorium and he had a backpack on a seat in the front section. My mom and I passed him and sat down near the top of the theater. I figured he was waiting for someone.

But for over ten minutes, he paced back and forth and kept touching his bag and then returning to leaning against the wall at the end of the hallway or block the entrance so people had to go around him to get to their own seats. As more people came in, he continued just to lean against the wall and I became very anxious.

The lights went down and the previews were going to start. It always reminds you to put your cell phone away as to not bother anyone and then AMC reminds you that if you see anything suspicious, let someone know. Those words rung in my ears as the man continued to lean against the wall and then look at his bag.

I told my mom that I was going to go say something to the people at the front and asked if she wanted to come with me. I said I’m sure it is nothing but I was not comfortable. I told my mom to just keep an eye on him and then I walked down the stairs right past him as I tried not to make eye contact.

I ran to the front after exiting the theater and while stuttering mentioned to the young woman who took our tickets that there is a man leaning against the wall and that I assume it is nothing but it is making me anxious. She said she would send a manager to check in and I went back to the auditorium.

I came back into the theater and he was still there. He looked right at me as I returned to my seat next to my mom as the previews were running. I whispered to her that a manager was coming and she said that was good.

A few minutes later, the manager walked in and began talking to the man. After the conversation, the man grabbed his bag and left with the manager. But then a few minutes later, he returned and sat in the row behind us.

I had to assume the manager checked everything out and he was harmless but the rest of the movie, he would get up, make noises, and rustle in his bag. I kept one eye behind me for the entire movie and we left as soon as the credits began.

I hated that I had to sit in a theater and be scared of what the other people around me may do, but that is the society we now live in. For some reason, people believe if we all live in fear, that is better than a life where we trusted one another. There has to be a warning at the beginning of a movie to ask you to be suspicious of your fellow movie-goers.

This is the hardest part for me to comprehend and truly what I believe the NRA is designed to do. It is not about gun ownership in a responsible manner. It is about scaring people that they are going to be hurt and need a defense tool. It is about scaring people that someone is going to take their gun and therefore they need more guns to protect their other gun. It is about fear and making money off of that fear. And as much as people say that we lived in a better time before, it is because we had a sense of community where we were not scared of our neighbors. There were horrible people then and there are horrible people now. That never changes. But how we react to these horrible people is the problem.

So instead of enjoying a movie with my mom, I have to be afraid of a random man who may have just had leg issues or diabetes because I have no idea who is armed or when someone who had easy access to a weapon will decide to use it.

Two innocent people trying to watch a funny movie were gunned down last night because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. We know the reactions we will hear: they should have been armed; crazy people do crazy things; it’s not the gun that killed them, it’s the person who killed them.

Nothing will come of this. More people will be afraid to go to the movies. More people will be afraid of people in their community. More people will assume the worst of their common man.

That’s why I don’t think I can ever see Philomena again.

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