Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan celebrated its 30th anniversary on June 4. I have no grand story about how I first saw the film -- which ranks as one of my favorites -- and that makes me sad. As moviegoers more and more choose the home delivery method of watching films, woeful non-tales like mine are going to become increasingly more commonplace. And I realized all of this while attending a New York Mets game in which a no-hitter was thrown.
So, here's the gist of the situation: Last Friday, I was in attendance at Citi Field as the St. Louis Cardinals were on the wrong side of a no-hitter, courtesy of Johan Santana and the New York Mets. (I promise, I'm not here to write about sports, just give me a few more words to tie this into a point about movies.) As a lifelong Cardinals fan, I wish there were a word that combined "exciting" and "miserable." If there were such a word (or, more probable, if I had paid attention in school and learned this word), I would use it right now.
I'm not exactly the best at sticking to any sort of regular social calendar. (I promise, we're almost back to the movie part.) I believe my New Year's resolution this year was something like, "I'm going to stay in this year." Don't get me wrong, I enjoy doing things. Let me rephrase that: I like having done things. I don't particularly enjoy attending events; I do like being able to say that I attended an event without being part of some sort of moderate to major social faux pas. I would estimate that my success rate in achieving this goal is around 85 percent. (An estimation that includes my rule of never looking at pictures the following morning. Nothing good comes out of doing so. My greatest fear, after death and wasps, is the "you've been tagged in a photo" notification on Facebook.) Regardless, I learned a valuable lesson this past Friday night.
Using a calculation device on the Internet, I have determined that I have lived 13,888 days. Proportionally, I remember very few of those days. Put it this way: ten years from now, I'll never remember today. Sure, if someone says, "Remember that piece you wrote in which you rambled on and on about the days that you lived when I just wanted to read about movies?," I may remember. (We are so, so close to the movie part now.) Though, I will never forget June 1, 2012, because I saw a no-hitter in person that evening. Because I allowed myself to have the opportunity to see a no-hitter. Because I didn't take the lazy way out of a social situation, as I am wont to do -- and came disturbingly close to doing on that evening.
Honestly, I'm at the point that if seeing movies (we made it!) weren't my job, I'd probably be just like most of my non-movie writing friends -- I'd probably wait for most of these movies to be available to view at home. This would be understandable -- and this is a big reason that, as a whole, movie attendance continues to decline -- but also a mistake. Because this would mean that there would be more days that I don't remember. Because I can't remember the first time that I saw every movie that I've ever seen -- but I do remember the first time I watched every movie that I saw at a theater.
My favorite movie of all time is The Empire Strikes Back, and it was also the first movie that I ever saw in a theater, which I'll never forget. Well, yeah, of course you have a vivid memory of that day. I also remember the first time I saw the original Star Wars, during a 1981 re-release of the movie. Dude, we get it, you like Star Wars, it's not surprising that you remember that, either. OK, fair enough. But that doesn't explain why I can remember everything about seeing movies as esoteric as Kiss Me Goodbye and Action Jackson. This past Christmas, I reminded my mother that she dragged a six-year-old me to see Ordinary People. She was befuddled that she would do such a thing, but she did remember. My mom can't remember Kevin Costner's first name ("Oh, I just love that Steven Costner!), but she remembers seeing Ordinary People in 1980.
Put it this way: Again, one of my favorite movies of all time is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Let me tell you about the first time I saw that movie. Oh, wait, I can't. Because I don't exactly remember. I do remember begging my parents to take me when it was playing in theaters, but they wouldn't because my dad had apparently fallen asleep when he saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (This could be seen as a testament against Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but my dad also fell asleep during Ghostbusters. He also enjoys the musical stylings of Lee Greenwood.)
My point is, the reason that I don't remember the first time that I saw Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is because I didn't see it in a theater. I saw it on cable. Or maybe it was on Beatamax. (Yep, we were one of those families.) I mean, good grief, even my girlfriend got to experience Khan in a theater -- and she wasn't even born yet. (Two things: A) Yes, her parents went while her mother was pregnant -- I would bet money that neither of them fell asleep -- and B) thinking back, I kind of wish that I hadn't just written that last non-parenthetical sentence.) My Twitter feed today is filled with first memories of Khan. I don't have any because I didn't see it in a theater. Again, this makes me sad.
Look, watching your favorite baseball team be no-hit is an interesting experience. Near the end of the game, I actually wanted it to happen -- which resulted in me rooting against my favorite team for the first time in my life. I wanted the memory, even if it wasn't 100 percent pleasant. I mean, in 1994, I saw an unpleasant movie called The Cowboy Way. Why do I bring this up? Because, in the ticket line at a suburban Kansas City movie theater, there were two strapping gentlemen in line in front of me, both wearing cowboy hats. My friend, Chris, leaned over to me and whispered, "I bet I know what they're seeing." Seconds later, one of the cowboy hat wearing gentlemen said, in a Southern twang almost straight out of that very film, "Two for The Cowboy Way." This made me laugh. I remember that day.
We can't plan "Two for The Cowboy Way," moments anymore than we can plan for no-hitters. But we can at least give ourselves the chance to experience those moments. And those moments aren't going to happen on a couch. Oh, sure, you'll be more comfortable and, in general, probably a happier human being, especially if you have children (and nobody will tag you on Facebook). Trust me, even without the children aspect, I'm on your side. Socially, I'm as lazy as they come. But, we're both wrong. You'll remember that you've seen the film, but not remember seeing the film. And that's part of it, too. And then when your child is in his or her 30s, and it's the 30th anniversary of one of his or her favorite movies, what's he or she going to write about?
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. Winning a World Series last season does ease Mike's pain from this experience. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.
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