Seeing Grease w/ My Father

I’ve only seen the movie Grease one time and it was with my father. It was around when it first came out and you couldn’t walk two blocks without hearing a song from the soundtrack blaring from someone’s radio. It was awful. Not the movie but the experience of seeing it with my pop. It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life.

My dad was a serious dude. A real serious dude. One of those Fathers that rarely if ever smiled. I call him my father even though technically he was my mom’s boyfriend. He lived in my house for about a decade so as far as father figures go he was as close as I had to one. He was an intense jazz musician. He was very serious about his craft and he wanted to see any other movie but that silly piece of crap. I think there were a few other choices at the multiplex. There was probably a Charles Bronson revenge pic or a Clint Eastwood shoot ‘em up. There may even have been a blaxploitation flick playing. Drugs, Bitches, Bad Acting… What I’m getting at is that there were probably a few more manly choices I could have made, but I was 9 or maybe 10 and I was more than likely a bit of a bitch even then, so we saw Grease.

This was the moment that I discovered a new ability.  I could step outside myself and experience things through other people’s eyes. A kind of empathic ability. A talent that would help me as a writer,  elevate my love making to epic levels among other things but it would ruin (or in rare cases enhance) any movie I saw with someone that I knew.

I fucking love movies. I love all types of movies. When a movie is well made I can disappear into that world the director has created. I am there. I am every character. I am in every situation. I am invested. Unfortunately, 90% of movies are shit. There is nothing that can ruin my day faster than making me sit through a bad movie. There is nothing more annoying to me than wanting to be a part of a world but that world making no artistic sense or having glaring mistakes or bad acting that takes me out of the moment. If I happen across a bad film I have to immediately watch something good to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.

But because of this annoying tendency toward empathy and seeing things through other’s eyes, I don’t watch movies with other people. I watch movies alone. I go to theaters alone, I watch DVD’s alone. (just me and my kitty but she’s okay because she doesn’t actually look at the screen she just stares at me.) Don’t get me wrong, I love the shared experience. I just like to share the experience with a room full of people I don’t know or alone. I will only see movies that I have already seen with other people but never the first time.

I can name the movies that I’ve seen for the first time with another person off the top of my head. Most of them were first dates. Unimaginative first dates. Honorable mention goes out to a girl who didn’t want to sit together and kept saying she was sorry but wasn’t reading the big smile on my face and me going “No that’s cool” Girl Interrupted. A couple of concert films with my band mates but that shouldn’t count cause we were all high as fuck. Elodie who would drag me to movies with her but that was okay because she was so passionate about every thing and could enjoy herself in the center of hell. But the first time was with my father when we saw Grease together.

I watched the entire movie through his eyes.

It was a campy incredibly silly musical…
He, as I mentioned, was a serious jazz composer.

It showed the 1950’s as fun and cool…
He grew up in the 40’s & 50’s and would remind me often that it was neither cool nor fun for him as a black man during that time.

He had absolutely no sense of humor. The man knew one joke and it was about the great depression something about two room mates having only one set of clothes between them. (A regular laugh riot)…
I had forced him to watch a movie where several young boys moon the camera.

That was the first movie we ever saw together and the last. To this day that movie makes me cringe when I see clips of it on T.V. I bet you there was a war movie playing in the next hall. The Dirty Dozen or something with Lee Marvin. God, I was such a little pussy.

Mel

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