There’s Something to Be Said for Escapism

Did you ever go to the movies back before someone invented stadium seating? Sometimes there was even a dip in the middle of the theater and then the row elevation would start going back up again towards the front. Oh, the despair of sitting in the dip, especially as a child. If it wasn’t wintertime and you didn’t have a puffy jacket to sit on, good luck staring at the back of some old dude’s head for an hour and a half.

Did you ever see one with a curtain? A real curtain that drew back before the movie began? When I say “before the movie began” I mean right before, because there were three trailers, max. Back then we called them previews. You might have five minutes to make it if you were running late. These days you have about twenty.

The first film I really remember seeing in a theater was E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. There was a muppet movie in there somewhere too. I know for a fact that I saw The Muppets Take Manhattan, but I’m pretty sure I recall one before that. It had to have been The Great Muppet Caper. I could be wrong.

I used to lie to my friends and say that I saw Return of the Jedi at the movies. That’s bullshit. I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad went, though. It used to be such a badge of honor, before the Internet, before DVDs, during the dawn of VHS and Laserdisc. It was such an accomplishment if you saw it on the big screen. You’d witnessed something historic, right? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, opening night, I was there. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I was there. Ghostbusters 2? Hell yeah.

I lost a baby tooth to a milk dud during The Neverending Story 2, which was the most notable thing that occurred that day. Even as a kid I thought, “Wow, this is a trainwreck.”

Dear Old Dad usually took us on Friday night. It wasn’t always kids’ fare, either. Yeah, we saw Hook but we also saw Terminator 2 and Robocop 2. As long as it was rated R for violence it was fair game. I’m pretty sure the first pair of onscreen titties I saw was when Mom took us to see Under Siege for my 12th birthday. Thanks, Mom.

I remember seeing a lot of weird 1970s movies in the theater but I’m pretty sure that happened when the day care center loaded us up and took us to town for the morning reruns at Malco. During the summer they’d show Benji or some odd thing. I’m pretty sure they still do that over at Hollywood Cinema.

Dude. Santa Claus: The Movie, that big ol’ Coca Cola advertisement. Saw it. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, back before Tim Burton became a caricature of himself. Saw it. Just Google “1985 movies” and you probably need to watch every one of those. Back to the Future and Teen Wolf came out the same damned year. Real Genius? I’ve seen all those films, most of them on HBO the year or so after they came out. HBO, God bless ya’. If we weren’t watching MTV it was HBO, and here I stand, an 1980s kid who has seen Revenge of the Nerds back when you either had to whip out that little paper guide to find it or rewind it when you were done.

Speaking of rewinding, if we weren’t catching it on cable, we had to hoof it on down to Jan’s Video in Trumann, Arkansas, and rent it for a dollar. I’m pretty certain it was fifty cents at one point. We usually rented NES games, or a Turbographix 16 on special occasions, but when we did rent movies it was usually something with Jim Varney in it. My brother, Blake, had a particularly eclectic taste for films. I’m pretty sure he rented Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie at least a dozen times. Unless the rental records of Jan’s Video still exist in some dusty filing cabinet somewhere, I guess I’ll never know the exact number of times I was subjected to that horror.

There’s a point to this.

I haven’t been able to write lately. I’ve been staring at the Internet with my jaw dropped open, stunned into silence. I don’t think I have anything particularly insightful or interesting to add. My personal problems pale in comparison, really, so I can’t talk about those either. Having to deal with the stress of chronic understaffing at my thankless job seems small when people are dying in the streets. Stupid political arguments about this farce of a Presidential race seem insignificant. It’s best to lock my jaw in position, shove these flying fingers into my pockets, and soldier on.

It’s the height of narcissism to think that my rad tweets, dank memeposts, shitty poems, or salty screeds would change anything. I can’t do it anymore. Not today.

If anyone needs me I’ll be at the movies.

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