Madagascar 3: violence, coarse language, adult themes

‘What about the kids?’ I heard a man whisper.
I turned around to the back of the cinema to see a group of foreign-looking young men stand up and quickly rush out.
I was with Master Seven, watching Madagascar 3.
I turned back to the screen but I couldn’t concentrate.
The movie was only about 20 minutes in.
Why had the men rushed out?
And, more importantly, what were they doing there in the first place?
I kept trying to engross myself in the film but it just wasn’t working.
“I’m going to the toilet,” I whispered to Master Seven.
He nodded distractedly.
I walked up the aisle and took a long look at where the men had been sitting.
Pitch black.
I couldn’t see a thing.
But I was nervous.
Yep, I was thinking about tear gas, bombs, guns, ridiculous things.
It wasn’t so long after the Dark Knight shooting in America and, in my head, I let terror reign.
Have you ever done that?
Been at a concert or footy match and let it pass through your mind: ‘What if this place suddenly went up?’
And then gone cold?
I’m sure lots of us did in the years immediately after 9/11.
I know it still crosses my mind all these years later, like when Learner Dad went to the AFL grand final at the MCG this year.
I didn’t obsess over it, but it briefly crossed my mind.
‘You’re being totally ludicrous,’ I told myself that day at the cinema.
But I ‘went to the toilet’ twice more during that movie to conduct surveillance.
And I came close to going to see one of the ushers.
Thank god I didn’t because, when the credits rolled, and the lights went up, I looked again.
And saw the floor where the men had been sitting was knee deep with popcorn.
“What about the MESS?” was likely what he’d actually whispered, not ‘what about the kids?’
I felt foolish.
And sorry that I’d missed most of the film.
I know some of you will think I sound ridiculous.
But I am just as certain some of you will relate.
So I ask the question: has society always been so paranoid?
Out walking with Li’l Fatty recently, on a central yet still fairly isolated Hobart track, I glanced behind me to see a man in a pink T-shirt a hundred or so metres away.
Thoughts of Jill Meagher flashed through my head.
The man suddenly seemed sinister.
So I did what I haven’t done for at least a year.
I jogged.
Pushing a pram and wearing a maternity bra, I finished the track in a strange loping run.
When the man in pink emerged about five minutes after me, he looked perfectly harmless.
This time I didn’t feel foolish though.
Just relieved.
And I vowed to tread a more public path next time.

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