When I was courting my ex-wife, yes, I said courting, what of it, I hoped to get myself on the ins and into the good graces with Mr and Mrs P (Danielle’s last name started with such) as any gentleman caller would when it comes to a Mom and a Dad. I thought of anything I could to ingratiate myself to them as I already knew the question of their daughter would come, I knew that from the first time I saw her, yeah one of those, across a bar at Station Square in Pittsburgh where we both worked, she at a little cigar shop and me part time at a little CD store, “Jukes”. I knew right then and there as I decided on a stop for a beer and a snack and a sit down before home that that question would come eventually, maybe with a bended knee, maybe with a wild plan or maybe even with a simple over lunch and a “hey, by the way would ya like to …” I don’t really recall exactly what that moment was, I just knew that it would and did happen. I don’t know of any other time that I was as in love as I was then … suddenly.
I’d eventually be introduced to Mom and Dad and would be invited to the house doing my best to cut down any awkwardness by, well, being awkward. It went awkwardly, but I’d like to think that I’m a fairly likeable guy just with awkward moments for stuff like this that can maybe be almost endearing and soon we were all watching the X Files together with me on the floor leaning against the couch next to Fish the dog, Danielle behind me at my shoulders, her Dad in his captain’s chair and her Mom at her side and we talked between commercial breaks of the goings on of the show but also about the goings on’s of goings on’s. We would soon have dinners, I would take Fish for walks around a wonderful little suburban dream Mt Lebanon neighborhood, I’d start calling them Mr and Mrs P, I’d meet her sister and her brothers, one of which was a Pennsylvania State Cop who told great cop stories and kept me straight backed (my own choice just in case) and we slowly came to be family which was so welcome for a guy whose own family was back in NY, 500 + miles away and who had been alone for quite some time.
It was around then that I discovered that Mr P was a fan of Jamie Lee Curtis, quietly, as if Mrs P didn’t really know. We all spend looks, innocently, and Jamie Lee Curtis was Mr P’s look. When I told him of the smallest of movies that had Jamie Lee in it, that he didn’t know of and made my way to a Blockbuster one night he lit up, well, as lit up as Mr P could be as he was a pretty reserved, quiet guy.
My buddy Rick, the editor of the school paper at WVU and a guy who helped save my life with a place to stay and a friendship after the fire that had me standing in my underwear in a late 80’s December watching things burn and go away, including “Bob” my first cat, I’m so sorry Bob, who allowed me some latitude after not dismissing me at my first off the street stranger’s walk into the paper’s offices with queries of writing for him asked me not too long ago if I had a copy of a review I wrote of this movie 30 + years ago.
Now note that I am an awful movie critic as they range only from yadda yadda suck to yadda yadda cool. Movies and words about them are Rick’s purview which he has proven over the years and proven really well. But me? Not so much. I don’t know all the words and phrases and metaphors and analogies that movie critics use, seem to have a library of some sort of, no, I just resort instead to that yadda yadda suck or cool. But I did write a review of this one back then, a one of those hidden gems type reviews that was actually Ok. I could probably find it for you Rick but that would require me going through the storage bins that have a lifetime’s worth of shit buried in them just becoming things that you move from place to place, giving them a tour of new stops in your small world, always promising yourself that you’ll finally explore them at the next place but eventually just become heavy things you keep moving and placing in windows for cats to survey their world on with a towel or two layed on top for the comfort.
I became “the guy” after that trip to Blockbuster as we watched this fable, this little fairy tale of a movie about nuclear weapons being put aside play out, with a final wondrous Gregory Peck and a couple of equally wondrous movie newcomers, Joshua Zuehlke and Alex English along with William Petersen, a movie that promised what the best of ourselves could be if we would only just allow it.
What a beautiful, heart affirming little film, a one that would have made a Frank Capra proud, though he would have added that Capra touch that could have made it one of the greats.
It’s not one of the “greats”, it is though still damn good and pretty close, but I was reminded at the re-watch this weekend that it is mine, it didn’t/doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be mine and hold memories … and still bring me to tears. Freakin’ thing.
That accepting of the question from Danielle so many years ago now didn’t work out as I would have liked, wished, wanted, planned but I had found a thing that her Dad and I could bond over and her Mom, seeing the connection, bonded with me as well. I miss them.
It’s not the review I wrote years ago that was kind of Ok, not just yadda yadda suck or yadda yadda cool Rick, but maybe this one is a little better and no searching through storage bin cat spots. I can continue to leave them be as they just wait for me to lug them, again, to wherever the next stop on the tour may be.