Writing of my deficient movie youth in the last post, it nudged me to finally start a new feature I had long been considering called Movie Memories. The idea is simple: recall notable movie-viewing experiences from my life. Unlike many of my other hastily aborted features, however, I think this one will stick better because I have 23 years of material to work with already. So let's begin at the beginning, with the first movie I ever saw in a theater: The Little Mermaid.
It's 1989 and I'm two and a half years old, still an only child. My dad is taking me to a movie theater, a big, dark, cavernous place, to see something called The Little Mermaid. We pass by the concession stand and my dad offers to buy me a treat. The world stops for a moment.
You see, my mom is a strict sugar Nazi, who fervently denies me access to sweets, except on the rarest of occasions. My dad, however, doesn't care. I consider my options carefully, but there is really no contest - I choose my favorite, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. This is far more exciting than the notion of seeing a moving picture.
We settle into our seats, and I stare up at the looming screen. I rarely ever consider this now, but especially before stadium seating became the norm, poor kids across the world must have been craning their necks at almost impossible angles to see the screen in spite of their stature. I can't bear the wait any longer and I devour the first of my two Reese's, cupping the other in my hand to save for later.
The lights dim, and what seems like a very long series of cartoons begins. I now realize two things: those were trailers for upcoming animated movies, and it wasn't long at all. It's pretty wild to think about how slowly time moved when you were a kid - everything that I can remember from before age five or so seems like a feverish dream. I recall it seemed like about 45 minutes of "cartoons," one of which was advertising an entry in the Land Before Time franchise.
Then the movie begins, quickly solidifying a love of the film that continues to this day (except that Ursula, both then and now, may be the most terrifying thing I've ever seen). After I feel that a considerable amount of time has passed (it probably hasn't), I decide that it is now appropriate to eat my other Reese's. But do you know what happens to chocolate when cradled in a warm palm? I sure didn't, and I look down to find sugary sludge where my treat once resided. I start crying. My dad saves the day, however, by ducking out of the theater to buy me a replacement. If my math is correct, then, I might have actually scored an extra Reese's in the process.
Thus begins a lifetime of watching a flickering screen in the dark with strangers. Only now I don't sit there clutching chocolate in my bare hands.