I'm searching for a high, my friends. I look everywhere and all I find is schwag. Or Iron Man 2.
SCENE: INTERIOR VAN. Girl, 12, is lying down in rear reading Rolling Stone magazine. She wears jeans that lace up the front and a blue T-shirt with a rainbow on it. The driver fidgets with the stereo, trying to equalize David Lee Roth, as if that could ever be possible. Diamond Dave is NOT talkin' about love, people. The driver has a huge mustache and is wearing Earth shoes. He turns into a mall parking lot, pulling up to the nearly-deserted theater entrance. He hands the girl some money and gives her a kiss. She hops out.
This is not a scene from a Boogie Nights 2. Not an Amber Alert situation. It's the seventh grade and this is my life.
Mom falls off a ladder. Blah blah blah. Long, painful story that I'll drag out for sympathy and entertainment later. Point is, she's in LA trying to get her back fixed and I'm trapped in Oakdale, Ca AKA Cowboy Capital of the World. (uh, Texas, Montana.??) It's been on the billboard for 40 years now, so I guess we've got to take it on faith, but I'm pretty sure they're just making that shit up to see if anyone has the stones to argue the point..
Oakdale is about 16 miles away from Modesto, which is famous for being the actual definition of BFNowhere in the movie American Graffiti.
Also home to Scott Peterson, of wife-murdering fame. So there's that.
You can imagine all the activity going on in a town on the outskirts of BFN. A town with one stoplight and Burger King. Didn't even rate a Mickey D's. Guess what it's like to be a kid who lives 20 MORE minutes away from THAT slice of heaven? We lived out on a long wind-y country road that was perfect for my father's dreams of triathalon glory. And cataloging new kinds of roadkill.
Staving off boredom during the summer, holidays and weekends was a challenge. This is going to freak some of you out but THIS WAS BEFORE CABLE. Or at least cable hadn't come to Oakdale. Try to remember what 3 channels and PBS meant to your summer vacation and you'll see a kind of pain only eclipsed by our parents struggle with the same three channels IN BLACK AND WHITE. Evan won't even watch something w/out color. Just looks at me funny and says the DVD player is broken.
So for something to do, I would drive in to Modesto with my dad one day a week and sit in the car at his office for a few hours, waiting for the mall/movies to open. What 12 year-old girl doesn't want to be reading Hunter S. Thompson in the back of a van instead of getting her ears pierced, I ask you? Oh.
I also demolished Helter Skelter and All the President's Men. I kicked precocious's ass back then. Sometimes it's so hard to see the silver lining.
The parental unit would take early lunch, spring for a cheeseburger at Carl's, then kick my Chemin de Fer's out the van so he could go smoke a fatty and call his ho before returning to Ma Bell. And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon. (*the parental unit is now pissed that his dark secrets have been revealed for all of you to see. boo to the muthaeffing hoo hoo)
Movies made it better. In the tween time, when the guidance of your parents determines if you is or if you ain't (cc:)) I had no counsel, just an empty house and emptier refrigerator so I chose Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek as surrogates, made Steve Martin and John Belushi my big brothers, and pretend-kissed Matt Dillon and John Travolta (mad Aquarian love, even back then). These were my peeps. I know I have that disorder where I relate every single life experience to a celluloid moment, a Bing ad for cinema verite.
I have dreams of floating through darkened auditoriums. In the early days of Dolby, the THX "Deep Note" in the beginning of the movie made you shift in your seat with anticipation. Do you remember how cool that sound made you JUST CAUSE YOU WERE LISTENING TO IT. Now people need drugs and skydiving. There was no usher checking tickets, only the cashier at the front and you could sit through the movie three times if you wanted, then head into another theater. No one cared about R ratings. The big, chewy Sweet Tarts were the thing to get. They lasted through two movies, since they took awhile to eat.
I can tell you what that theater smelled like, I can tell you what 45's I had just bought (BeeGees, Peaches and Herb, Sister Sledge) and which Adidas I was wearing. It was a wicked, bad time but I wouldn't trade being that movie kid for anything in the world. There's not a chance in hell that Evan will ever get to do this (even if there were five movies you'd actually want to see) and that is straight up balls.
These screen gems are the ones that mattered the most. Nothing in my life feels as much like yesterday as sitting in those theaters. You can jizz away with your CGI. I've got Jake and Elwood, four fried chickens, and a Coke.
All That Jazz
Kramer vs. Kramer
Alien Electric Horseman
The Elephant Man
Friday the 13th
The Blues Brothers
Time After Time
Empire Strikes Back
The Great Santini
One Trick Pony
Coal Miner's Daughter
The Main Event