In the wake of the terrible, unspeakable horror at the theatre in Aurora, Colorado, it was beyond my imagination that any sane person would resort to anything approaching physical violence in one of our own movie theatres in Evanston. And, yet, it happened to me the other night in a small, trivial way...but enough to make me realize how vulnerable we all are.
I'd gone with my friend, June, to see the movie "Moonrise Kingdom" at the Century 12 Cinema downtown. About a minute or so into the opening moments - during that unofficial time when people are settling into seats, shutting down their cell phones and balancing their snacks, a scene appeared which showed a camp bugler blowing the Assembly call at the "Khakki Scout's" camp.
I leaned over to June and said, in quiet tones: "That's what I used to do!", recalling my days as the camp buglar for "Uncle Bud's Day Camp" a day camp run by Evanston teacher Bud Garland first in Evanston (Greenleaf and Forest) and then in Libertyville.
The young woman sitting two seats to the left of me with a box of popcorn on her lap pounced on the moment: "Stop talking during the movie" she ordered.
"What," I said, "I am sorry, I couldn't hear you."
She leaned closer to me and said in a loud voice that everyone could hear: "STOP TALKING DURING THE MOVIE!!!"
"Please, miss" I whispered to her, "please don't speak to me during the movie". I turned my head back to the screen.
A second later I felt the sting of a single piece of corn hit my left cheek, just below the outside corner of the left eye socket. My lawyer brain switched on - and not my fight or flee instinct - and I thought: Is that an assault or a battery? I knew it was one or the other, but rather than dwell on that point of law, I turned to the woman and asked her: "Could I just borrow one piece of your popcorn?"
She declined to do so. Later in the movie she momentarily set her box of popcorn - which she munched on quite noisily without complaint from me - onto the chair between us. She thought better of it and instantly moved it back to her lap.
When the theatre got noisy with laughter at some point, I leaned into June and complained "She threw popcorn at me!" "So" said June, pointing her palms up, "what do you want me to do about it. Wrestle her to the floor?"
Well, I put an end to the whole matter right there. And I won't mention it again. But, I knew you would want to know.