Why do we own this?

I am reading Sloane Crosley's, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, and in one of her essays, she details how mortified she would be if certain DVDs were found in her apartment should she die today. Clearly, she's been reading my mind.

Scott and I are pretty movie obsessed. We rent at local mom n' pop stores, get dollar new releases at those newfangled vending machines, and walk to second-run movie houses. We own a Blu-Ray and Scott even has one of those genuine Regal Crown Club cards. Once, although I admit it with shame, we watched all three made-for-TV movies based on Gary Paulsen's Hatchet and its companion novels. White wolves can be very compelling. The bottom line is, we are movie people. However, we don't really own a lot of movies. We just don't accumulate movies the way we do, say, magazines (me) or increasingly fancy kitchen knives (Scott). So the fact that we own the above title is even worse.

Its lack of company makes it stand out even more garishly. I imagine it's like walking into a stunning art gallery with only three paintings, and one of the paintings is just that old Budweiser poster, with three girls wearing swimsuits, and their swimsuits spell out "Budweiser." Come to think of it, that might be a poor metaphor because that poster's campy value would for sure trump the campy value of the sequel to Analyze This.

You've already noticed the best part I'm sure. Not only do we own a copy of Analyze That, we own a VHS cassette! Seriously. Who are we? Why do we own a tape of anything? I'm pretty sure our VCR is busy at work holding up a box of worn L.A. Gears and charm necklaces, so what would we even watch it on?

More importantly, why is still here? It's existence means we've moved it from Bellingham, to Seattle, to Tacoma, and now to California? I mean, I'm pretty sure we sold half our furniture when we left Tacoma, but were we like, "No, no put that in the 'save' pile, I want to watch that tonight."

Let me just analyze this for a moment if I may -I know, good one right? - let's explore how in the world this object weaseled its way into our home and subsequently followed us through four cities exactly like that giant Costco-sized container of Nesquik Scott inexplicably came home with one day. I've literally never seen him drink it in his life, yet one day, he just bought 85 servings of it. I find it hilarious and weirdly endearing. It just sits in the back of our cupboard, forgotten and silent like some sort of yellow, plastic monolith. We keep getting to this point when we move, where I imagine we are too tired to discern what goes in the box and what doesn't, and that's when, invariably, the Nesquik gets packed once again. We never, ever drink it; We just move it. Apparently, same goes for obscure movie tapes.

I know for a fact I didn't buy it, but does that mean Scott, whose flawless movie taste I trust wholeheartedly, was the one who made this questionable purchase? If so, I like to think that Scott had been in Montana, or Alaska perhaps, some sparsley populated locale where video stores were only accessed by dogsled. Maybe his mom was sick and her only request was a movie, just a little film to lift her spirits.

Once Scott had tied up the dogs and wiped the steam from his goggles, he saw that the Inuit purveyor was only offering two films, one was My Best Friend's Wedding, which his mom had just seen last weekend. The other was a worn copy of a mad-cap Billy Crystal, Robert DeNiro adventure. But, there was just one catch. Scott couldn't rent the movie, he had to buy it. So, thinking of his poor mother, up to her ears in Kleenex and VapoRub, he did the valiant thing, purchased the tape, and mushed all the way home to save the day!

I really can't imagine any other scenario that would bring this into my life. Once, Scott and I went out to our favorite Italian restaurant in Fairhaven, Bellingham's impossibly adorable district. As we ate our tortellini, we slowly started to notice all the waitstaff was staring at us. Well, we thought they were staring at us. It turns out they were staring at the couple next to us. "What's going on?" I asked, my mouth full of garlic bread. The closest server leaned in and whispered, "He's going to propose!" "Wow!" Scott and I said and just as we turned to spy, the guy, who looked approximately fourteen, got down nervously on bended knee and offered his ring to his lady.

Everyone was staring. We were literally a foot away from them. I seriously could have reached out and stolen a breadstick if I wanted to, but out of deference to the romantic moment at hand, I refrained. What happens next is surreal and unbelievable. The girl, an equally youthful redhead with ballerina arms and pale skin hissed through her clenched teeth, "GET UP!" She was sitting on her hands tightly, her ring finger couldn't get any farther away. Suddenly the waitstaff had cheese to grate. Scott and I were trapped, so close to all the heartbreak.

We immediately tried to pretend like we had no idea what had just happened, and just like I might in any uncomfortable moment, I began nervously tittering and talking loudly, "Ho, this is some good wine!" I bellowed "I agree!" Scott shouted back awkwardly.

The boy was understandably confused and frozen. "GET UP!" probably wasn't the phrase he was expecting to hear. He fumbled the box back into his coat pocket and took his place in the booth beside her. They proceeded to have a hurried and hushed conversation. Scott and I smiled weakly and made sad eyes at each other. We felt so bad for them. They were so young.

I felt especially terrible for the guy, because he clearly thought he was getting a "yes." I mean, you don't ask, unless you're certain you are going to get a "yes," do you? Or maybe that wasn't the case at all, maybe some other entirely unique motive prompted this kid to get a ring, take a knee, and ask the redhead for her hand. As we left the restaurant, it was all I could think about.

What events could have possibly led up to that? I wondered. What series of small moments led them to this one we and the servers of Mambo Italiano so awkwardly witnessed? How did those kids, those little kids, get from point A to point "No" the way they did?

I still wonder. Long after this has become a cocktail party story. "She said NO!" Gasp! "Yes! We felt so bad!" Still, still after I take a sip of my drink and sit in that quiet that follows a story, I wonder, what led up to that?

While the situations are completely different in their gravity, I feel the exact same way about our battered VHS copy of Analyze That, the sequel to the Billy Crystal, Robert Deniro collaboration, Analyze This. I hold it in my hands. What led up to you? I wonder. I look over at Scott. "GET UP," I say, "We're going to the movies."


Buff Tan Honky said...

Before you go too far about VHS tapes, I should interject that certain movies should only be watched on tape; Real Genius, The Mother Lode (only because you can't get it on DVD) and The Quest (also because you can only get it on tape.) I guess I should explain that the film, The Quest, I'm referring to is not the one with Van Damme, but Elliot from E.T. FYI- it's also known as Frog Dreaming. Possibly the most rad movie ever made that no one has ever heard of. I paid a ridiculous amount of money to get a copy, but for some reason you can find quite a few for next to nothing. To get an idea of my craving for old VHS oly movies, I paid $28 bucks to watch Charlton Heston play a scottish miner in The Mother Lode on VHS. Maybe it was to see Nick Mancuso have a speaking role. I haven't decided. Buy it, and tell me what you think.

caitlin said...

Excellent point, excellent point. I checked out The Mother Lode and The Quest, and the movie covers alone are enough to make me want to watch them both. I also love taped-off-of-TV '80s VHS, too - with the commercials preserved for eternity. Have you ever seen The Legend of Billie Jean? It's totally '80s and when I finally saw it this year, I was like, "How did I not know about this?" Or, of course, The Vikings. I miss Scarecrow video.

Anonymous said...

Items currently in my garage: Darth Vader action figure holder. Contents: 80% Star Wars, 10% G.I. Joe, 5% M.A.S.K., 5% lead dragon figurine holding crystal from Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. Austin Powers license plate holder - fucking hilarious. Sad that people stood in line, paid money, and thought I would put that on my truck. 15 nokia phones from the late 1990s.