Moments of Wonder, the Sequel
Another moment of wonder this weekend. Not as sublime perhaps as Catskills fireflies and deer but profound for me in a parental pop culture kind of way. Had a slumber party in the “big bed” last night with my son — let him pick the movie we’d watch at bedtime, cuddle under the duvet, etc — and before you judge my parenting don’t worry, I’ve been doing the “read to them at bedtime at least 20 minutes” thing for five years now so a little pop culture now and again at bedtime won’t kill him.
He picked “The Empire Strikes Back,” which he’s seen in bits before but never the whole thing in one sitting. So I was dubious about how long the attention span would hold out but sure enough, that awesome opening scroll started, the John Williams theme swelled, and he was hooked. I don’t what switch turned on in his five year-old brain that kept him engaged for the whole thing, but whatever the reason, it was pure bliss watching this beloved film from my childhood with my own child, knowing he was digging it as much as me.
I remember vividly the first time I saw “Empire” in the theater — with my own mom, in fact. My dad and sister were away somewhere and Mom put me to work on that hot Saturday in 1980 — cleaning out the attic, I think — with the promise of a movie if the job was done well. And this was back in the day, pre-VCR and pretty much pre-cable when getting to see a movie at the theater meant something. I cleaned that attic like Cinderella scrubbing her way towards the promise of the royal ball and like Cinderella, my hard work paid off. I’ll never forget showering off the attic dust and making the pilgrimmage with Mom through the steamy suburban night to the Capitol City Mall six-plex where we escaped together into that wonderful galaxy far, far away…
Far, far away and indeed, a long time ago. 1980 feels more and more distant with each passing day. I miss that time when going to the movies meant something, and I really miss my mom. She died three years ago this month which may have something to do with the disproportionately emotional resonance of my “Empire Strikes Back” experience with my son.
I hope for him so many things…one of which is that in his digitally turbo-charged world of movies on demand, pay-per-view, third screens, fourth screens, Netflix, Apple movies and all the rest of it — that every once in a while he and I will share what Mom and I shared that summer evening — delighting together in the shared experience of a movie that becomes a cherished memory, so each repeated viewing (on whatever screen, whichever format) is as much an appreciation for the original viewing partner as it is for the movie itself.
On tonight’s agenda? “Return of the Jedi,” of course. The rebels celebrating victory, Ewoks cavorting, Anakin and Yoda and Obi Wan hovering in digital benevolence in the final frame. My son is very concerned that this story have a happy ending and fortunately — this time, anyway — I can promise he’ll get one.