It Has to be Magnets

When you think about teenage girls you probably don’t think of the 2003 cinematic thriller, The Life of David Gale.

I was going through a big capital punishment phase in my life and feeling particularly self-righteous about it, so The Life of David Gale was really the perfect movie for me. Also, I wanted the first rated-R movie I saw to be a real whopper, something my parents would see.

My friends swung by to pick me up around 8:20-ish. Before this, however, I had to figure out what to wear, which I anguished over for about two hours.

I liked to wear pantyhose underneath my jeans.

I don’t know when I started doing it, maybe freshmen year of high school? The point is, I wore pantyhose under my jeans because it made me feel like my puffy-bits were tucked away, secure and safe.

I changed my outfit about 12 times before settling on the same thing I always wore. A short-sleeve pink shirt with keyhole neckline, light-washed jeans and a pair of black, high-heeled boots. I didn’t think anything got much cooler than this outfit.

I decided not to wear socks, which turned out to be a bad idea.

Nowadays, I see a lot of articles that try to answer the question “how often does one need to shower” and I can tell you it is more than I did from 1999–2003.

I figured everyone was lying about how much they showered, like it was just one of those pervasive cultural myths everyone kept going out of deference to older generations.

But I digress…

I kept checking my cell phone in the car. I had this irrational fear that the movie was going to be sold out. I hurried everyone out of the car and into the ticket-line.

When I ask for tickets, do I say The Life of David Gale, or do I just called it David Gale? I debated about this for about five minutes until we were at the head of the line.

I spoke clearly into the little speaker, “Four for David Gale.”

“Can I see IDs?” The ticket clerk asked.

I took my ID out of my wallet and slid it under the window with a knowing smile.

With our tickets in hand, we made our way over to the snack counter. I ended up getting an ICE-E because I thought it was healthier than the bag of Peanut Butter M&M’s I normally purchased.

We walked down the hallway to the back of the theatre where all the unpopular movies were relegated. Apparently a psychological-politically-charged thriller wasn’t the draw I thought it was. We were in a small theatre, probably held no more than 100 people at best. It was very intimate and very dirty.

The other adults were less than excited with the appearance of four teenagers. An elderly couple near the back guffawed as we took our seats at the front of the theatre.

We took off our winter coats off and hung them over the back of our seats. We carefully placed our purses on the sticky pop-covered floor. We were ready.

This was an important moment for me, as it was the first non-Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter film I had seen in the last four years. Out of dedication to my fandoms, I refused to give money to a thing that was not Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter related. But seeing this movie was a rational, adult decision which I could be proud of for years to come.

The movie finally began.

The plot of the film was essentially this:

Kevin Spacey plays an anti-capital punishment activist David Gale. Gale is convicted of the murder of his colleague and is now sitting on death row. The question of course being, did he do it?

That’s where Kate Winslet’s character comes in. She plays an intrepid reporter by the name of Bitsey Bloom, which is perhaps one of the most unfortunate character names ever conceived. Gale requests Bloom to interview him and the rest of the story unfolds through a series of flashbacks.

I had developed my mom’s habit for sitting with her legs crossed. I thought it made my legs look skinner.

I was really into this movie and I kept looking at my friends to see if they were as interested in it as I was so I could adapt my behavior accordingly. I didn’t want to appear too into it.

Was Kevin Spacey’s character another victim of America’s lacking judicial system? Would Kate Winslet’s character of the enterprising journalist find evidence to exonerate him before his execution? The tension was mounting and I could feel it.

So, this is what it was like to be an adult eh?!

About forty-minutes into the film my left boot felt weird, probably because my foot fell asleep. I jostled my left leg and stomped it on the ground a few times to wake it up.

Ten-minutes later, the feeling was back. Must be poor circulation.

I crossed my other leg — right over left this time.

There that should do it.

But it didn’t.

There was this really strange pressure, almost like a pulling. Maybe I stepped in something and it was sticking to the floor? Gum perhaps? I leaned down to check the bottom of my shoe but nothing was there.

I looked at my friends to check if they were having any weird experiences. They weren’t. They were all quietly watching the movie which lead me to believe that I was overreacting.

I went back to watching the film.

Twenty minutes later, the feeling came back. It was a jiggling, my foot was jiggling or shaking. Is it possible for my foot to be shaking without me feeling like I’m the one shaking it? Like was that a thing?

Okay, think.

Think self.

You have on high heeled boots.

Those boots have those little metal parts in the heel and you have a cell phone.


The cell phone is clearly attracting the heel through some sort of magnetic force. This is the most logical conclusion.

I used my foot to move my purse further away from me in an attempt to disrupt the magnetic distortion.

Despite moving my purse and continuously changing my seating position, the tugging sensation prevailed.

My brain was rapidly trying to process, which looked something like this:

What was this madness, this chaos?

Now, my boot was coming off.

What the actual Jesus, why was my boot coming off?

I had a shoe and now my shoe was threatening to leave my body.

This isn’t normal right, like people don’t spontaneously lose shoes do they?

I looked around, I looked behind me, I looked under me. I could see nothing. Identify nothing.

I checked the zipper on my shoe to make sure it was up, but as soon as I put my foot down again the god damn tugging started again.



You want to play this game, weird unexplained force? I’ll play this game.

I’ll play it and I’ll win.

I was resolute in this conviction.

These shoes were not ill-fitting.

They were, in fact, very, very tight.

I just kept thinking about magnets. It was the only thing that made any kind of sense to me.

Periodically I stomped my foot on the ground to stop my leg from involuntarily shaking.

I reached for my purse, took out my cell phone and looked at it. Like all of a sudden the mystery of its magnetic attraction to my shoe would become clear. I implored my little grey Nokia to tell me why, why was it trying to rip my leg off?

There was another possible explanation that I considered: I was experiencing a disconnect from reality and imagining everything. I was uncomfortable with that explanation though so I went back to thinking about magnets.

Near the climax of the movie, as Kate Winslet rushes to get to the prison with vital evidence before Kevin Spacey is injected with the toxic drug cocktail that will rid his body of life, I felt my entire body begin to slide downwards.

I grabbed onto the arm rests.

The pulling was so intense that I could not for the life of me keep it in its upright and seated position.

Finally, my shoe came clean off.

Instinctively, I leaned over and reached around for my shoe.

As far as I could see, I had two pretty pressing problems at that particular moment:

1. My feet smelled horrible.
2. Everyone could tell I was wearing pantyhose under my jeans.

I couldn’t imagine explaining to my friends about the pantyhose situation and this terrified me more than losing my shoe.

Still, now was the time for boldness.

I leaned over to my friend, who was watching the movie to the right of me and told her what was going on. I whispered everything, I didn’t want anyone else to hear.

“Okay, So. My shoe just came off.”

“What?” She whispered back.

“My shoe. It came off.”

“How?!” She turned and faced me.

“I have no idea!”

She looked on the ground in front of her and behind her and I did the same. We could only see coats and purses.

By this point, the other two people we were with had been clued into what was happening.

Liz was the brave one in our group. She decided to physically move the coats, which had fallen on the floor behind us. Then she screamed.

“Someone’s there!”

We all stood up.

We all started screaming.

No one else in the theatre was interested, in fact they began yelling at us to sit down and shut up.

Liz yelled back, “Someone’s under there!”

To which an older gentlemen responded with, “No one cares!”

We all sat back down and devised a plan. I’d stay seated with another friend, while the other two went to get the manager.

This was a good plan.

With my friend sitting there, I thought it was important that I explain the bit about the magnets.

“I thought it was magnets.”

“You thought it was what?” She asked.

“Magnets. Like, something with my cell phone ya’ know?”

Saying it out loud, I became aware of how incredibly ridiculous it sounded.

After five minutes the other two came back into the movie theatre, Liz had given up all pretext of being quiet.

“Apparently it’s happened before?! They were all like, OH YAH THAT GUY!”

We started laughing for lack of knowing what else to do.

“Should we leave?” Liz asked.

This was the obvious question and you would think the answer would be obvious as well, but we decided to stay and finish watching the movie.

As the credits began to roll everyone in the theatre collected their winter jackets and started to leave. They were giving us their best evil glare and openly talking about how annoying we were in front of us.

We got outside, the winter wind blew in our face.

“What if he’s out here?” Liz asked the question we were all thinking.

“Okay, let’s run.” Another friend responded.

So we ran like hell to the car, laughing and screaming and we all locked our doors as soon as we were inside.

In the safety of the car it became clear that the person under our seat had tried to remove each of our shoes at some point through out the movie.

“I thought it was you.” One friend said to me.

“What would I be doing with your foot?” I asked her.

“I really have no idea.” She responded.

Each of us had explained away what has happening using an increasingly complex (and improbable) rationale system.

We laughed and sped off into the night.

And that, my friends, is the weirdest thing that ever happened to me.