In recent days I've written about my attendance (my surprising and confoundingly regular attendance?) at trashy movies. I've offered two trembling excuses: (1) autobiography (I watched lot of them when I was a kid--not much else was available); (2) pedagogy (I watched them so that I would be able to talk with my students about them).
So far, I've failed to convince myself, so let's move on to yet another reason/excuse, and see how that flies.
REASON/EXCUSE #3: TRASHY MOVIES ARE HOW I ESCAPE FROM THE DIFFICULTIES OF LIFE.
This sounds like a very good reason, doesn't it? We all have aspects of our lives from which we want a little break now and then, right? Jobs, neighborhoods, family finances (smart way to escape those worries: go spend a small fortune at the movies!), family (annoying siblings, parents, children, spouses, in-laws, etc.), health, general responsibilities, and on and on and on.
But here's the problem: I don't want to escape all of that; I don't need to escape all that. Let's take each of those aspects, one at a time ...
- Job. I loved my job, right from the beginning (Sept. 1966) when I walked into my first classroom, #116, Aurora Middle School; 102 E. Garfield Rd.; Aurora, Ohio. Seventh graders. Oh, sure, there were always things about that job--as there are about any job--that did not exactly delight me. Alpine piles of papers to grade. Teachers' meetings. Committee meetings. Obnoxious parents (not too many of those--but some). Getting up early in the morning. Working every evening, every weekend throughout the school year. (Wait a minute--what did I like about that job?) Etc. But being in a room with curious youngsters? Talking about things I cared deeply about? Reading things I loved? Why would I want to escape that?
- Neighborhood. We live on a quiet street in a quiet town--right next door to a funeral home (Stage 3 Retirement! And very quiet neighbors.). Our other neighbors are generally amiable and respectful of our privacy. And vice-versa. (Okay, sometimes ... but let's not get into that.) We are close enough that we can (and do) walk to many of the things we like and need--bank, grocery, coffee shop, post office, book store, restaurants, etc. Why would I want to escape that?
- Family finances. I can't complain. We're not wealthy--never were, never will be. But we have been prudent throughout our lives, saved, economized; we drove (and drive) efficient cars, paid off debts as fast as we could. We were lucky, too. We both had jobs we loved and we stayed with them for our entire careers. Never lost a job (I did quit a few times!), never got laid-off or downsized or fired. Sure, we took our jobs seriously and worked hard--but so do a lot of other people who find themselves with a pink slip in the mailbox. We were fortunate. Very fortunate. And we are profoundly grateful. Why would I want to escape that?
- Family. Many in my family are gone now--or distant (my two brothers live in the Boston area; my mom, in Lenox, Mass.). I don't see them very often (a few times a year), and when I do, I invariably have a great time. Our only child--our son, Steve--lives about a half-hour away in Green. We love him, love his wife, adore their two sons, Logan (8) and Carson (4). So why would I want to escape that?
- Health. Okay, this one's different. As readers of these posts know, I've been dealing with prostate cancer since late in 2004--have had surgery, radiation (neither worked), and am now on Lupron, a stop-gap hormone-inhibitor that will be effective anywhere from a few months to a few years. Then it's chemo's turn. So, sure, I'd like to escape that--but can't, really. It's always on my mind, somewhere. I find the best way to avoid thinking about it is not to go to the movies but to focus on reading and writing or spending time with Joyce. Then, indeed, my health worries cower in a corner, waiting.
- Responsibilities. I don't have a lot of these anymore. Retired, you know. I used to have many, of course: teaching, play-directing, fatherhood, spousery (not a word, I know, but it should be), and all the other things associated with career and home-ownership and all of that. But now? Responsibilities have fallen from me like icicles from the gutters on a warm day in January. Most of the ones that remain are there because I want them to be (book-reviewing, cooking, baking, home finances, snow shoveling--okay, not that one).
Still, there are times when I lose myself in a film--those times when the screen goes black, the credits roll, and I can't believe it's over. (Our son, by the way, when he was very young, would cry when the movie ended.) But never does this happen at a trashy movie: I'm always aware I'm in the presence of Trash, and, like Oscar, I somehow love it ... but still need to come up with some better reasons for doing so.
TO BE CONTINUED ...