I think it was “Dancing at Lughnasa.” I was the old Irish man for some reason. We performed the play in competitions and made it to regionals. Whatever. My accent was bad. I didn’t listen to the tapes enough. But anyway, I drove a few people to Big Fish after rehearsal and met the rest of the gang (the theater gang) in the lobby. We were all looking forward to Big Fish because it was well-reviewed and had a good trailer and all of us thought Tim Burton was good despite the fact that none of us had really liked a Tim Burton movie since Mars Attacks and even that wasn’t very good and why would the man who made the just-OK Mars Attacks suddenly be great at a romantic fantasy that had apparently been based on a novel? I hated it. I hated it during and I hated it more as we stood in the lobby talking about why some of us hated it and some of us loved it. We stood there for over half an hour, watching the theater empty, and soon it was late. Camille was getting a ride home with Elyce and Elyce’s dad had just driven up.
"Can you give me your keys so I can get my bag out of your car?"
"I’ll just come with you. It’s time for me to leave."
We walked to the edge of the parking lot where my car sat alone. A man was following us. I turned and saw him following us. “This man is following us,” I thought. I pulled out my keys. “Is he following us?” Camille went to the passenger side as I unlocked the driver side and yes, that man was following us because he approached me and said, “How do you get to [major intersection]?” I looked up, attempting to access whatever memory bank is up, and I heard Camille audibly ask herself, “Hmmm, what’s on [major intersection]?” as a way of figuring out how to get there, and suddenly the man who was following us pulled a gun out of his hoodie. (Camille likes changing the story so that the man responds to her “What’s on [major intersection]?” question by pulling out the gun and saying, “THIS,” but I assure you that it did not happen that way.) The man was short. Shorter than I was, at least. Maybe 5’4” or 5’3” but I have no idea how to judge height so why am I bothering. He was short. He had a hoodie on. The hoodie was gray. The gun was brown. I think it may have been black. It had that thing on the side like an old gun, a revolver? That’s it. A revolver. Do they still make those? Anyway he shoved the gun in my stomach and screamed, “GIMME YOUR WALLET.” I turned to look at Camille and she dropped her purse and kicked it under my car, a move that I’ve often considered smart and equally often considered weird, and then the man screamed, “DON’T BE A HERO!” This man had obviously never seen a hero before but, yes, I pulled out my wallet and he amended his original statement and shoved the gun back in my stomach, “GIMME YOUR MONEY!” OK, that was better, because I didn’t want to give him my full wallet to begin with because waiting in line at the DMV would have been a nightmare because it’s always a nightmare and anyway I handed him the cash and he took it and shuffled off behind the theater. I think there was a greenbelt there. Maybe? I think it turned into a Coffee Bean. But yes, he shuffled off and I asked if Camille was OK and she was and I drove her to Elyce and her dad (did I mention Elyce’s dad was a police officer?) and Elyce approached the window as Camille sobbed and she asked what happened and I said, “We were just robbed at gunpoint,”and within five minutes Elyce’s dad had four local police department cars around us.
We filled out a report. They thought they found the guy. They brought him to us. We watched them pull the guy who matched the description out of a police car and we said, “No. Not him.” Too tall. Wrong color hoodie. Too tall. Yeah. Not him. Too tall for sure and the hoodie was definitely gray. “Here’s my card and the case number in case you want to check up on it.” I never did. They never found him. He took $14 from me – the change from buying my ticket. The punchline here is a good one, so hold on to your butts…
So I saw Big Fish and got robbed at gunpoint in the same night - I can’t figure out which part of my evening was worse!