NOTE: Please don’t think ill of my father after reading this. Events have been exaggerated for comedic purposes.
This has become a scenario played out every Saturday in my house. “There’s nothing on TV,” my Mom says, “so why don’t you and Dad go rent some movies?” Now normally, that wouldn’t sound so bad. But, my father and I have radically different tastes in film. Case in point: The Empire Strikes Back. As most of you know, I love the Star Wars movies, and consider Empire to be my favorite. I’m sure you are all familiar with the opening shot. Here we have Luke Skywalker, riding a majestic beast called a Taumtaum across the frigid wasteland that is the planet Hoth. Every time I watch this film with my dad, he says the same thing. “Ha! Look at that guy riding a dinosaur! What a phoney show!” Then he breaks down in hysterical laughter. Actually, this would explain why every Saturday we have to rent movies, rather than allowing me to watch something from my meager film library.
So my Dad and I pile into the car and go over to Laser Video. It’s not the best stocked video store in the world. They still consider Independence Day a new release. On the shelves, they only have one copy of The Matrix, but seven or eight of Orgazmo. As for older films, they’ve either got really old ones, or really, really, really old ones. This is not a video store where I could do the things I got used to doing in Camrose, like a Tim Burton night or something like that.
Shortly after we get into the store, my Dad and I separate. I always go to my immediate left, so I can start perusing the new releases at the “A” section. My Dad goes to the immediate right, and begins scanning the new releases from the “Z” section. I’d better get this on the table right away. My Dad seems to be drawn to sexploitation comedies. The bigger the breasts and the less clothes the woman is wearing on the box, the more likely he is to pick it up. It won’t be long before my Dad and I have this conversation.
“Hey Mark!” he’ll say. “How about this one?”
I’ll look over the box and say “Uhh, no Dad.”
“But why? Siskel and Hebert gave it two thumbs up.”
“There are three things wrong with that statement. Firstly, Siskel died about a year ago. Secondly, it’s EEEbert, not HEEEbert. And thirdly, I don’t ever remember them reviewing Co-ed Hot Tub Academy Part 4. Put it back.”
So Dad will begrudgingly put it back and move towards classic movies. Actually, I’m proud of him. He hasn’t pulled off the “Siskel and Hebert” gambit for a while. For a while there, every time I shot down one of his selections, that’s what he’d counter with “But Siskel and Hebert liked it!” I don’t even know why he moves into the older movies. For a while there, he’d shoot down every classic I pulled off the shelves, using the tried and true argument “But we’ve already seen it.” That’s why I tend to limit myself to new releases.
Going through the new releases always brings me back to why I have to devote every energy to getting out on my own. There are tons of movies I’d like to see, but know I cannot bring them home to mom. For example, Blade. I saw it, loved it, would love to watch it again, but know that my mom will go “Oh my god! Look at all that blood!” Or BASEketball. I thought it was hilarious, but 10 minutes into it, when one of the characters licks a vibrator, I knew that this was a film I could never show to my mother. How about The Matrix? As much as I’d love to rent it, I know that mom will just find it too weird. So my search continues, and about this time, Dad comes back to me.
“Hey Mark! I found this classic. I’m sure you’ll love it!”
“Oh really? What’s it called?”
“How about this one? Showgirls.”
And he goes off again. I think my mother always send us two to get movies because she knows I won’t let him bring those films home. This has become my movie hunting routine. Try and pick an action film for me and dad, and a romantic comedy for mom. Yup. Nothing new and exciting. Just the routine. Something funny, something where stuff blows up. So, if you ever catch me in a video store looking over something like Runaway Bride, it’s for mom. If I’m looking over Blue Streak, that’s for me and dad. I can hardly wait until the day I can rent movies I want to watch again. Oh, look. Dad found another movie.
“How about this one, Mark?”
I look over the box. “‘The Sex Sense. A young man is haunted by images of people having sex with each other, and the only ones who can save him are a trio of busty blonde paranormal investigators.’ Dad, where did you get this?”
“Behind that door.”
“You mean the door that says ‘Adult Movies XXX’ on it?”
“Oh. I didn’t see that sign.”
“OK, Dad, now you’re not even trying. I tell you what. For every movie that you pick with a half-naked woman on the box, I get to take home a cartoon.”
“Now that’s not really fair….”
“Oh look! Ghost In The Shell is in!” I’ll say in faux excitement.
“I’ll put it back,” and Dad disappears behind the door.
Ever since I turned nine, my Dad’s been waiting for me to outgrow cartoons. When I was nine and selected some G.I. Joe cartoons off the shelf, Dad would say “Is all you watch those darn cartoons?” Over the summer, one of my local TV stations had a great block of programming: The Simpsons, Futurama, King Of The Hill, and Family Guy. My dad would say “Is all you watch those damn cartoons?” (Having gotten older, he can now swear in front of me.) I always wonder how my Dad would react if I were to show him something like Ranma 1/2, with all its gratuitous topless nudity. Think I could turn him into an anime fan?
Right now, I’d like to pose a query. Any of you out there ever venture behind “the door?” I did once. I tell you, it’s a strange new world back there. It’s amazing what a person will do out of curiosity. Hell, I’ll probably rent a movie from back there someday, simply because of curiosity.
About this time, I’ll have found a romantic comedy and an action film. Enough to satisfy mom and dad. As always, I’m left in the dark. I don’t always have to rent a movie. Why do you think I’m amassing a video collection? So, I run these movies by dad. Since I’ve shot down all his choices, I’ve broken his spirit to the point where he’ll agree with mine. And then, we go home. It’s a ritual repeated every Saturday night. I can hardly wait until the day when I am once again on my own. I tell you, my parents are like my own personal MPAA. But someday, I will once again be able to watch Taumtaums without hecklers.