In 1988, at the age of four, I saw my first movie on the big screen. I don’t remember what I was wearing or what the theater looked like. I don’t remember if I had popcorn or candy. I don’t remember who took me or even which theater we went to. I grew up in a town small enough that it has had several theaters come and go over the years, unable to consistently support one, and though I want to say that I saw Oliver and Company at Twin Cinemas in Waynesboro, most of the records that I can find say that the theater wasn’t there until 1990. So we might’ve seen the movie in Waynesboro-or we might’ve drive the half hour to the closest theater.
But I remember having my cousins there. We were close in age, lived within a few hours of one another, and my mother and her sisters liked to get together. We didn’t see my maternal grandparents often, for many complex reasons, but my aunts and cousins made sure we noticed it as little as possible for as long as they could; they did well. So there my cousins and I were, and I remember the large red chairs in the row in front of us, and I remember the theater was almost empty-or at least no one wanted to sit near us, because I remember running up and down past the folded up seats with little interference while we waited for the movie to start.
And I remember the joy of the film. I remember loving Oliver, wanting a dog like Dodger-and thinking that the Bette-Midler-voiced-delightfully-mean-Georgette was named “Torgette.” I don’t remember running past the folded-down seats while the movie was playing. I remember kneeling in one of those chairs, though I weighed barely enough to keep the seat down, entranced by the huge screen, the loud sound, and the Disney movie experience.
Later, I remember playing with the McDonald’s finger puppets of the characters, re-playing the film over and over in my head. When my family went to Disney World in 1990, I bought a plush Oliver as my souvenir.
I was hooked-on animals; on movies; on Disney; on the theater; on merchandise. On popular culture.
(Working on a few more Zero to Hero related changes as prompted. Nice to know about Creative Commons-feel silly for not knowing about that sooner.)
*This piece is an entry in the True Classics fourth anniversary contest.