Wednesday, June 29, 2011

“Miracle Max, Iced Tea, and a Dad-Shaped Velociraptor: How Movies Made my Life”“Miracle Max, Iced Tea, and a Dad-Shaped Velociraptor: How Movies Made

*I thought I might mix things up on here with an essay now and again. This is an old one from one of my college classes, tweaked a little bit, but I might throw some new ones in too!

“Miracle Max, Iced Tea, and a Dad-Shaped Velociraptor: How Movies Made my Life”

The story always gets told. My mom starts it with a reference to iced tea. Or, my dad begins the familiar tale when someone mentions Harrison Ford. Either way, we are all annoyingly familiar with how Dad scared Mom one night when we were watching Indiana Jones, and she threw iced tea all over him. By now we can practically feel the anticipation as he waits at the top of the stairs, tensing with each creak of the steps; we can hear her shout of surprise and feel the swift retribution of the icy tea pouring down his back.
Or, there’s the tale of when I was little and I used to watch Peter Pan. I would never go down into the dark, spidery basement by myself unless I was watching Peter Pan. I would sit there, all alone on our dusty and faded tan couch and forget about spiders while I watched John, Michael, and Wendy discover Never, Never Land. I’m told I could be heard all the way from the basement, through the kitchen floor, crowing along with Peter. That one’s a favorite for “tell tales on Emily and try our best to embarrass her in front of her friends” night.
If there’s nothing else to talk about, there’s always the story of how when we were kids we were watching JurassicPark III and at the end Dad scared us out of our wits by launching through the door with a thunderous crash and landing on the couch, screeching like a velociraptor, his brown eyes momentarily wild and red. That’s always a good one, although my respectable father is possibly less fond of that than others. It seems that every time I turn around a story being told revolves around family movie nights.
My family has always had a deep bond. We went camping together every summer, nearly tearing each other apart by the end of the week; my dad read to each and every one of us when we were little; we frequently went on picnics, roller skating, and countless other family activities. But, our favorite by far has always been when we would get our bowls of chunky salsa and bags of chips, grab a cold Dr Pepper, crowd onto the couch, and watch a classic movie together. That taste of fresh, spicy tomato salsa, the satisfying, salty crunch of tortilla chips, and the beautiful sound and scent of a fizzing Dr Pepper being poured over clinking ice always makes me smile.
Some would say that watching a movie together isn’t real “family time.” After all, you’re just sitting in the same room, staring with dazed expressions at the same flashing screen. But I have found that those movie nights weren’t just a group of people sharing the same air, but instead that through those shared experiences we were deepening our familial relationships. I suppose it all started because my parents enjoyed media themselves. We were just gradually each inducted into the tradition as we arrived.
One of the ways we did this was simply through inside jokes and family stories. The number of laughs we’ve shared over spilled iced tea and dad-shaped velociraptors is a priceless gift. It also makes watching those movies again all the more meaningful. Even if it is a ridiculously cheesy and categorically impossible plotline (i.e. Jurassic Park III), it gains an intrinsic value that makes it more treasured than the newest thriller.
Another way these special movies deepen the family bond is through a shared taste in entertainment. My parents picked the movies we watched when I was young, so those movies shaped my own tastes. The Princess Bride contributed to the fairy-tale, fantasy inclination. The dashing and daring Westly, with his curly blond tresses and eyes “like the sea after a storm”, beautiful and devoted Princess Buttercup, and comically quirky Miracle Max all made “w-ove, twue w-ove” seem good and perfect. Adventurous Indiana Jones formed the fascination with action and an imperfect but prevailing hero. And we mustn’t forget Mission Impossible and Sneakers, which I blame for my present obsession with modern shows glorifying espionage and clever gadgets.
Those were all of my mother’s favorite movies. My father is responsible for the Star Wars aspect of my movie experience. Although, he always seemed more interested in the documentaries on the boxed set of the trilogy than the actual movies. Oh the agony, listening to George Lucas dryly explain how they made the starship models seem life size, or how they shot this or that scene, or how he wrote the stories in the first place. After that, anything seemed like Oscar material. No wonder we always enjoyed them.
As I grew older, started spending more time away from home, and eventually moved away, I took these memories with me and incorporated them into my own life. My friends and I always watched movies when we got together. Of course, they had a little bit of different taste than my parents, so I got introduced to more movies and genres. My roommate and I developed a fondness for romantic musicals and plays, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Much Ado about Nothing being prime examples. Something about strapping, red-headed farm boys bursting into song and dance, and star-struck lovers spontaneously declaring their undying affection with flowery, poetic speeches tickled our fancy.
Of course, when the boys were around we had to watch much more manly things. Popular flicks, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, and The Lord of the Rings are usually the films of choice. Or, if in a more comedic mood, dumb-humor movies such as Napoleon Dynamite and Loaded Weapon kept us all rolling and quoting lines long afterward. It’s fairly safe to say, even, that most of our conversations revolved around randomly inserted movie quotes, each conversation becoming almost a contest to see who can have the most appropriately quoted line.
Now, my husband and I treasure movie nights. A few moments at the end of a busy week to just relax and enjoy being with each other. We have our favorites too: Harry Potter, and Iron Man, and The Count of Monte Cristo.
Ultimately, simply just sharing memories with people deepens relationships. One of the most awkward and uncomfortable things is not having any sort of common background and experiences. Having those evenings of laughter gives you something to talk about the next time you’re together. After all, how can you have a deep and meaningful friendship without memories?
Now that I have a daughter, these values are ones that I hope to pass on to her someday. I look forward to movie nights, introducing her to Westly and Buttercup, Indy and the world of adventurous archaeology, Ethan Hunt and his impossible mission, and perhaps even a George Lucas documentary or two (if Grandpa has any say in the matter.) I’m sure we’ll even develop our own family favorites along the way. I just hope that they will learn to laugh at inside jokes, to link the smell of fresh chips and salsa and the fizz of a just-opened pop with family, and to treasure each moment we spend together making memories.

No comments:

Post a Comment