“Let’s do the time warp agai–uh, for the first time!” by Deb Jess

As the final new Deb to post this week, I feel a little like the last kid in gym class to be tested on the rope climb. Everyone else is relaxing below, watching, while I pray I don’t fall and give myself a rope burn in a sensitive area. Oh well…on with the show!

Movies make me nostalgic.

The first movie I ever saw in a theater was Pete’s Dragon. My single mother took me when I was three. Is there anything better than a friendly invisible dragon when you’re three? Other than reaching the developmental milestones of “Bends over easily without falling” and “Walks up and down stairs, alternating feet?”

I can remember the first movies I saw at a drive-in theater: Young Frankenstein and The Rose. My Mom and new Dad took me to see the double feature at the Fond du Lac Drive-In, which is now a strip mall anchored by a Pick ‘N Save grocery store. I think my parents made out a little after they thought I fell asleep in the backseat. Or maybe I really was asleep, and just had a nightmare that they made out.

After my mother had my baby brother, Dad took me to see E.T. and on another occasion, Tootsie. I’d been feeling miffed at the loss of my position at the center of attention for seven years, and Dad must have known that a film about a cross-dressing soap star would really cheer me up. I managed to crack a smile a few times during the film, but what really put the jaunty hop back in my step was the mellow soundtrack featuring Stephen Bishop.

When movies first came to VHS, my family frequently rented a portable VCR, which came packed in gray foam in a plastic suitcase the size of a dinette set. We rented a VCR and two movies, Supergirl and Sixteen Candles, for a slumber party I hosted when I was ten. My friends and I went to church that same night, because I’m all about showing my guests a good time. Halfway through the service I looked over at my pal Jenny and saw dried ice cream in her eyebrows, the result of licking her bowl clean before we left.

The first movie I saw on an “official date” was Pretty Woman. I made out with my boyfriend during most of the film. In a crowded theater. On a double date. Before the lights were even turned down. While a kid was kicking the back of my seat.

Only some of that is true.

Movies I saw in the theater twice: Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, and Titanic. This was back when I was really trying to fit in yet still wrote dark, rambling poems about individuality.

(Okay, I need to pause to catch my breath. Did I really just admit that? Okay, I did. Whoa. Deep breath. Okay. I’m fine, really. Lots of people probably saw those movies twice. Really, they did! In the theater, even! I’m sure of it. It’s fine. Deep breaths. Moving on.)

The first movie I saw with my husband was Gladiator, which had it all: heartbreak, vengeance, murder, betrayal, the specter of incest, realistic gore including decapitations and several delimbings: that magical combination of elements that can only lead to years of marital bliss.

I don’t remember the first DVD I ever watched, but I do know the first one I purchased: George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead. Everyone should make room in their collection for such lighthearted romps, no? (I think that whenever I talk about zombie movies I’m going to append all statements with: no?)

Movies I watched as a kid that I sometimes re-watch as an adult, just for grins: the Star Wars trilogy, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Muppet Movie, The Black Stallion, Annie, Time Bandits, Big, Charlotte’s Web.

I always cry at the end of Charlotte’s Web.

I host a horror movie fest with the girls every Halloween. Movies with sequels are not invited.

Every December I watch It’s a Wonderful Life and the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol featuring the alternately dour and giddy (but always entertaining) Alastair Sim.

I always cry at the end of A Christmas Carol.

Nearly every Tuesday is movie night at our house, because the week’s new releases are available on DVD and it’s early enough in the week that our attention spans are still able to pass basic cognitive tests. Last week we watched 300, to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Romance! It was in the air.

So there you have it, my little chickadees. My life condensed into a series of films.

Next Friday’s entry will feature the lovely Eileen, writing about the beautiful thing that brings us all together: books! (Yay, books!)

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12 thoughts on ““Let’s do the time warp agai–uh, for the first time!” by Deb Jess

  1. Morning, Jess! Great post. Isn’t it amazing how we can give a map of our lives through the movies we saw, who we saw them with, where, when, etc? A movie becomes so much more than just a movie that way.

    And don’t worry about those “twice-seen” movies. The great thing about being an adult and a writer is that all these memories are great fodder for the imagination–plus they show us how far we’ve come in learning to be ourselves.

    And I saw Titanic and Forrest Gump in the theatre. I think I probably cried at both of them too! I would have been too scared to see Jurassic Park, (I’m a big chicken) but I actually read the book.

    Have a lovely first-blogging day.

    Deb Danielle

  2. Thanks Danielle! I could have rambled on even longer with this one, but it was already getting dangerously long. Movies are definitely a great mile-marker. 🙂

  3. Congrats, Jess, you did it! And we were all there to catch you just in case you fell off that rope…But you didn’t need it at all!
    Your reminiscences brought back some of my own. I LOVED drive-in movies when we were kids–we were always in our jammies in the back of the station wagon and it always got too late and I always had to pee but didn’t want to walk to the bathroom in my footy pajamas…
    I remember going to drive-ins in high school with these two guys, Phil and Damon only I had a crush on Damon but he had another girlfriend and PHil had a crush on me and he was “just a friend” . So we did sit in the back of Phil’s pick-up and drink beers, but there was no making out on my part (though Damon took care of that with his girlfriend right to us, boo hoo!).
    We have a drive-in nearby now and try to get there once a summer. It’s always fun and I STILL hate to trudge to the bathroom, only not because I’m in my footy pajamas, only because I fear I’m going to break my neck on the terrain in the dark…
    So I must reveal my age to you. When VCRs first came out, I was in college (yes, the dark ages!). And back then they had these places where they had rooms w/ VCRs in it and you’d rent time in them. So usually it was a bunch of friends but of course everyone ended up making out in the VCR room but I never went because I was too busy studying…LOL
    And the ONLY movie I saw the entire time I was in college, only because EVERYONE was watching it at the time, was Caligula. I think it turned me off movies for the rest of my college career…

    p.s. you MUST add to your Christmas movie watching: A Christmas Story. Only the best Christmas movie going!

  4. Ah Jess- promise me if you haven’t already that you will rent, no buy, the movie Shaun of the Dead. The rest of you should too. Unless you hate zombie movies, even the funny ones.

    I’m so glad we’ll be sharing a time slot!

  5. Gail: there are more ramblings and asides where these came from, believe me!

    Jenny, your comment made me laugh. Caligula!! Of all the movies in the world…and you know what? I DO watch A Christmas Story every year! I totally forgot that one.

    Eileen: I LOVED Shaun of the Dead. And I can’t wait to see that other goofy zombie movie you told me about. (The one that’s kind of a spin-off of Pleasantville.)

    Larramie: now if only I could remember basic algebraic equations! 🙂

  6. Jess, since you are now “subbing” for my daughter, I feel I have the obligation to “advise” you like I do to her. (This means talking to myself a lot and wondering where I went wrong)
    In your blog you said, “I think my parents made out a little after they thought I fell asleep in the backseat. Or maybe I really was asleep, and just had a nightmare that they made out.”
    Well parents don’t “make out” they get romantic! AND it should not be a nightmare but rather a dream. I am sure that your new dad would agree with me on these two points.
    I hope your new dad will join me in keeping you in line as I have tried to keep Eileen in line. I just hope he has better luck than I did!! Maybe on my next trip to Chicago I should “bop up” to “Cheese Country” and meet your folks so we can compare thoughts on raising kids. (Eileen would probably suggest that you do not give me directions to your parents home.)

  7. Jess, I think Deb Danielle could talk about the “romance” of “300”, as she took me there for my birthday! Oh yes, my suggestion, after she vetoed all of the horror movies I wanted to see (for the record, Deb Danielle does not like scaaarrrryyy movies). And I love those historic movies. I really had no idea that the reason they were called “Spartans” was because they wore those little loincloths and red capes all the time. Wow. Where would we all be without the verismilitude Hollywood provides us with. Looking forward to your post next, no… next-next week.

  8. Oh Jess, you’re a great Debutante Ball partner for Eileen! Too funny 😀

    And watch out for Very Proud Dad, he’s sweet, but boy, you can’t get away with nothin’!

  9. Eileen’s Very Proud Father: I think you and my Dad are two peas in a pod. Or is it two cheese curds in a bowl? 🙂

    Michael: hey, thanks for the comment! “300” was my husband’s suggestion, too. Now if only he could get me to play XBox with him…

    Kristy: thanks for the tip! I shall proceed with care. 😉

  10. Great post, Jess! Oh I have so many embarrassing movie confessions, it would fill an entire book. For example, I went to see “You’ve Got Mail” twice at the cinema…why, oh, why? When I was 13 or so, I watched a video of Dirty Dancing about three times in a row.

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