Wednesday, May 18, 2005

May 24, 1977

I was 10 years old in 1977.

My son will be 10 next February. Was I thinking the same things he thinks today? Did I hate or like 3rd grade? Does he start to feel that something...that something more protectve than actual attraction about one of the girls in his class? I don't think I ever suscribed to the "ooh-girls-are-gross-let's-throw-rocks-at-them" school of thought when I was a kid. The girls were cool. And occasionally there was one or two I didn't want to see get hurt. Does he think that too?

My son will be 10 next February. Does he grasp the importance of baseball? He's been playing soccer for a couple of years now, but he's not a star. He may take up baseball again this fall. I played baseball since I was able to pick up a bat...does he see competition as a window on life, on the soul? Does he see teamwork and cameradery as microcosmical examples of how we are to cling to each other to survive, to succeed? I see that now, but was it because the might Little League "Thundercraft Boats" team occasionally won a game here and there, and we were allowed to run around and play cupball all over Fountain City Ballpark? Is he learning the things I learned then, when I wasn't paying attention?

I was 10 years old in 1977.

My son will be 10 next February. Does he look beyond our world, to the possibility of others? I loved dinosaurs. Land of the Lost had come and gone, but instilled a sense of wonder fantasy in me that still lives today. He's seen the Jurassic Parks, the Harry Potters, the Lord of the Rings... entertainment events that cause Sid & Marty Kroffts' stop-motion dinos to quiver in fear. So does he peer into that door of other-worlds and gaze about with wonder, like I did?

When I was 10, one of my best friend's name was Tim. He was a year older than I was, and way cooler. We'd spend the night at each others' houses all the time, and as he only lived a couple blocks away, we were always around each other. That summer of 1977, we had no idea that Deng Xiaoping had returned to power in China. We didn't know Carter had pardoned Vietnam war draft evaders, we knew it was getting warm again (finally), our bikes need air and a local radio station was giving away preview tickets to a new movie that was scheduled to open late in May.

At that point, I had rarely listened to popular music on the radio. He and I listened religiously for weeks, until we finally one. We had heard this new movie was going to be great - unlike anything anyone had ever seen.

I was 10 years old in 1977.

My son will be 10 next February. Does he wait in anticipation for things to come? Does he have that feeling of excitement that still comes to me on Christmas morning, these days through watching my kids' eyes? Can he feel the palpable sense that something wonderful is coming? Does he ever imagine that just around the corner something is going to occur that will change your life?

Tim and I arrived at the theatre early that 24th of May*, with our parents. We showed our passes, crept through the crowd waiting in line inside and made our way up to the ropes. As the tension rose and the rope dropped, two 10 and 11 year old boys raced through the door, down the aisle and skidded to the very center seats, of the very center aisle.

I was 10 years old in 1977.

My son will be 10 next February. This Friday I will accompany him to a similar event. My friend Tim and I won tickets on the radio...I bought mine and my sons from Fandango. 1977 and 2005 Barry will get there early, we'll find a close place in line, and - hand in hand - I'll lead my son into the theatre to find a good seat. Maybe near the middle. But this time I'll get to see the movie, through a 10-year-old's eyes.


(More here about that day in 1977)

Postscript: Later that summer our two families travelled to Myrtle Beach for vacation. Using my own hard-earned sheckles, I purchased the paperback copy of the Star Wars novelization. I bookmarked certain pages that were the best parts of the movie, and read them over and over. I kept that book with me for years, and it became one of my prized possessions.

* Note: Star Wars opened nationally on 5/25/77, so I'm assuming the day I saw it was 5/24/77. However, some things I've read up on suggested it only opened in some of the bigger cities on that date, and actually opened in Knoxville a week or two later. Maybe so, maybe not. I can't confirm what the actual date is, but it doesn't really matter so your mileage may vary.

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