A Very Strange Matinee

At noon, I walked over to Tinseltown, a 12-screen multiplex on the edge of the bad part of town, so to speak. I bought a ticket for Intermission (Flashosity ahead), an Irish film starring several luminaries, including Colin Farrell, Colm Meaney and Cilian Murphy.

When the film started, I was very pleased to discover that I was the only one watching it. This brings me great joy (as it has on two previous occasions at this same multiplex–Boys Don’t Cry on Christmas Eve and a weekday matinee of, uh, Eurotrip).

About halfway through the film, I got up to go the bathroom. As I was coming out of the theatre, a guy was coming in through the other door. I thought it was a bit odd, but he didn’t look particularly dodgy, so I carried on. On returning to the theatre, I discovered daylight spilling in from one of the exit doors near the screen, and my bag–containing my wallet, keys, iPod and sunglasses–was gone. There was a young cinema employee standing in the exit doorway.

Fortunately, there is a maze of stairs between the exit and the outside world. I saw the cinema employee run off, and I tore off after him. The employee managed to stop a guy–the same guy I’d seen entering the theatre–just before he went outside. My bag (a leather valise–lovingly referred to as my ‘manbag’ or ‘murse’) was nowhere to be seen.

The guy claimed total innocence, talking a mile a minute and showing me the contents of his backpack. While I was pretty sure he was guilty, he clearly didn’t have my stuff. I figured that he had dumped it once he heard us coming. Sure enough, on the way back upstairs to the theatre, I found my bag thrown under a staircase, just out of sight. It was unopened, with all of the contents still inside.

I shrugged, thanked the employee for his help, and went back to watching the movie. It was kind of an Irish Short Cuts, telling the interwoven story of a half-dozen or so Dubliners search for love and money. The script was witty, pacey and very genuine, and the acting was, to use an Irish (or English?) phrase, top drawer. Particularly Murphy and Kelly Macdonald, who are both stunners. I last saw the lovely Kelly in Gosford Park, and she’s got a supporting role in a big biopic about J. M. Barrie.

I’d be curious to hear what some Irish friends has to say, but it seemed like the genuine article to me. The sharpness and emotionality of Irish men, the visciousness of Northside knackers, the shyness about sex, the gregarious articulateness of everybody–resonated pretty truly for me.

After the movie, I walked a block or two around the theatre, looking for the thief. To do what? Show him that I got my bag? Yell at him? Try to kick his ass (he was a little guy, and kind of fey)? I’m not really sure. I didn’t find him, though, which was probably for the best.

There are two lessons for me in this incident. One, don’t be stupid and leave your bag in an empty theatre. More importantly, don’t be stupider and ignore your spider sense. We all have it, that instinctual, repitilian part of our brain. I saw that guy into the theatre as I was coming out, and something raised a warning in the back of my head. A brief conversation occurred in there:

REPTILIAN BIT OF BRAIN: Dude, go back into the theatre. That guy’s going to steal your stuff.
RATIONAL BIT OF BRAIN: Don’t be silly.
REPTILIAN: Seriously, turn around and go back.
RATIONAL: He had a CD player in the mesh pocket of his bag. Thieves don’t have CD players. They sell those for crack or prostitutes or whatever.
REPTILIAN: You’re going to regret this.
RATIONAL: Besides, our bladder is totally full.

Lesson two: you have intuition for a reason–don’t ignore it.

While walking home, my faith in humanity was restored by two ten-year-old girls selling tasty pink lemonade to raise money for landmine removal. At ten! At that age, I was busy deciding who I liked better, Snake Eyes or Scarlet.

Written by

Darren Barefoot is an author, speaker and digital strategist. He’s the co-founder of Capulet Communications, and co-author of “Friends With Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook”.


  1. ‘murse’

    I can’t believe you would ever leave that stuff unattended in a public place! Having said that – I’m surprised this punk was able to locate a small (I hope small) bag in a dark theatre.

    Very strange. Glad you were able to retrieve it.

  2. Look, Darren, you don’t know about Tinseltown? You don’t know why most of the shops are empty, or why the security guards patrol the two main entrances? Crime. Highest crime rate in Canada. And near the two parking lots (in front of Tinseltown, and on Cambie, across from VCC, where I teach) with the highest auto theft rates in the country.

    I know, when you’re the only one in the theatre it’s tempting to feel like you own the place. I had the same experience in Vermont last year, when I saw Underworld (which restored my faith in sci-fi horror by actually making up for how bad Matrix Revolutions was). It was a nice surprise, too, because I originally thought it was going to be a botched version of the greatest American novel, Don DeLillo’s Underworld. What a welcome shock to get vampires and big guns instead.

    And, speaking now as a guy who teaches people about trauma: you’re right, the reptilian brain almost always sees it coming.


  3. Good grief, I take my bag to the bathroom with me even in the presence of a friend who could theoretically guard it. How long have you lived in the city?!

  4. I’ve lived in cities all my life. In my defence, this was an entirely empty cinema in the far corner of a very empty complex. Clearly I have too much faith in humanity.

  5. In defence of humanity,

    a friend of mine walked on the streets of New Westminster (another local gritty BC city) half-awake (no morning coffee yet) and accidentally dropped her wallet. Unaware this had happened she continued walking. Someone taps her on the shoulder, hands her wallet back to her with all her contents still intact.

    Not to say I don’t disagree with fawn’s comments, but it’s comforting to know Mankind isn’t on it’s way down the toliet.

  6. While we’re sharing good samaritan comments… my wonderful hubby, returning home one night not too long ago from an office function, more drunk than I have seen him in years, dropped his bank card on the bus three times. Three different people alerted him to it and gave it back to him.

  7. Fortunately I have a good story too. Back in my student days, I was carrying too many grocery bags and when I got on a very “high school just got out” crowded bus, I unknowingly dropped my wallet. One of the “rotten teenages” returned my wallet to me right away, even though her friends teased her about doing the right thing!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: