This of course got me thinking about the things I secretly brought home… and that led me to remember the movie Air Force One
I grew up in a home without TV. Its true; we didn’t have a TV, we didn’t even have a monitor… we didn’t have anything TV related. At this point in time, computers didn’t play movies. At this point in time the internet was a vague thing and no one was using it for much of anything in common daily life, including using it to watch movies.
One summer, my grandparents parked their RV on the slab of cement in my parent’s back yard. It was always cool and nice in there, smelling faintly of oatmeal,… and there was a TV! Oh Joy! Oh Rapture! It only got two channels, there was a fair bit of static, but miracle of miracles… it had a VHS Video Tape Player. –collective sigh--
At one point during the summer my grandparents were out of town (sans RV) and my parents took my sisters to the ranch for the weekend. I stayed behind because even at the age of –somewhere in my teens- I had a job and couldn’t afford to take time off. I was ecstatic to be left alone for a few days… and thrilled to have free run of the TV and a chance to use the VHS Tape Player without the mindful attention of my grandparents. (Their meager of Disney movies had already been exhausted.)
Against my parent’s admonishing, I called up the boy I had a crush on and invited him over for the evening. Then, it was time to head up to El Passeo… I had seen the Hollywood video store there and I knew people routinely rented movies. This was my plan: Walk the 2 miles to the video store, rent a movie,(something adult and romantic) walk home, make or order dinner, entertain the boy in style and class, end the evening by inviting him out to the RV for some relaxing... I imagined myself looking cool and confident, suave and refined. I was going to win his heart and the first step was to bring home the perfect movie.
An eternity of blistering sidewalks later, I dragged my sorry rear end into the Hollywood video store. It had been a very long and very hot 2 mile trek… I think it was around 95 degrees and I wasn’t really used to walking at this point in my life. I was gross, covered in sweat, trying to maintain faith in my plan.
I walked (stumbled, panted,) into the very cool and very dark video store and waited for my eyes to adjust. As soon as they did, I saw what appeared to be the most attractive male on the entire planet. He wasn’t just cute, not merely good looking or handsome, those words would be too light, too dairy free whipped topping for this man. He was walk off the rack magazine movie star type of good looking… the kind you accept as real in fiction and on the big screen… but not standing behind the counter of a video store.
He smiles. I almost fall over.
“Hey, can I help you find something?” Oh sweet angels cry, his voice is thick and sweet and had a slight drawl… in the next moment he is going to come out from behind that counter, sweep me off my feet and carry me to the back room where we would…. Oh. Wait.
I suddenly remember that I am standing in a sweat puddle the size of a small town. My hair is plastered to my head, I am sporting horribly frumpy red shorts and my tank top proudly bears the remnants of last night’s spaghetti sauce in the area slightly south of my left nipple. How had I not realized how horrible I was dressed before I left the house? Oh, right, because I thought this was going to be a quick and easy trip… the vision of myself renting a movie and thus entering the secret realm of the adult world sort of started with me locking the front door of the house, arriving at the door of the store, and picked up again later at home, little bag in hand as I archly invite the boy out to the RV… Oh right. The boy
Back in the moment, I am still standing there, totally blocking the door, and he is still standing over there breaking the hearts of every female country western singer Ever. Except now he looks concerned, slightly confused,
“Can I help you?”
Ahhh still the voice is sweet and I swallow preparing to talk. My mouth opens… nothing but air… I try again, a sigh, a stammer, not really making human noises yet.
“Are you okay?” He leans forward revealing a flash of perfect collarbone.
Oh God, would his virtues ever cease? I force myself to nod. Good. I take a step in. Better. I have achieved control over my body… I am now confident in my ability to communicate.
“…movie.. want .. a movie…” My voice is high pitched, slightly wheezy but hot damn there were words. The small victory gives me strength. I continue, “just a movie, a Video..”
He relaxes back, leaning casually on the counter, “Well you came to the right place,” He waves his hand towards his right, “Let me know if you need help finding something specific.”
He smiles again. Heart pounding, I tear my eyes away and stumble behind a rack of glossy packaged Videos.
For the next several moments I am in a blind panic… These are movies, these are videos… These are a lot more expensive than I thought they would be. I can’t quite figure out the order... and suddenly I can’t remember any titles of anything. Seconds drag on as I pace the aisle he had pointed me into again and again.
“Miss, you finding what you’re looking for?” Agh! He is calling out to me from behind the counter. What a dolt I am, taking my time. A truly mature woman would have known exactly what to get. She wouldn’t have spent wasteful moments fanning herself and smoothing down her errant hair in preparation for seeing him again. I grab the movie in front of me Air Force One, clamp my arm across my chest to hide the spaghetti stain, and scurry out of the aisle. I drop the tape on the counter in front of him and smile what I hoped is something breezy and calm. “Yes, thanks. This one.”
He rings me up, soft smile on his lips, soft gentle full lips, a tiny scar on his chin adding to his mystique and his charm. I am staring and I can’t stop. He gives me my total and even though I inwardly cringe and mentally chuck the idea of ordering pizza for dinner, I smile up at him and hand over my wad of bills. He counts out my pitiful change and slips the VHS Tape into a smooth plastic bag. He slids it across the counter and with another heart stopping smile wishes me a good day.
Was I imagining it? Did his hand linger on the bag as I took it from him? Perhaps he has noticed me staring, perhaps he had decided to look past the sweat and the frumpy clothes….I flip the bag around my wrist, give him a flirty smile and head for the door.. I plan out a saucy backwards finger wave before I leave this cool sanctuary, my mind already hearing the witty things I will say when I bring the movie back. I will thank him for pointing me to the right section, I will tell him how much I had liked the movie, I will ask him to recommend something else… I will come in the morning before it was too hot and wear something low cut and cool, maybe a skirt. He will remember me, be blown away by the transformation from hot and sticky into smooth and suave. He won’t stand a chance.
I turn at the door and as I raise my hand to wave a thought occurs. He hadn’t told me when it was due back. Perhaps he HAD been distracted, perhaps he had wanted me to have to ask him, perhaps he was jut looking for an excuse to keep me in the store just a wee bit longer…
“Oh,” I say, hand on hip, playful smile on my lips,. “You never told me your name…”
He glances up, (is that a blush on his cheeks?) “Joshua, I’m Joshua.”
“Well, Joshua,” another smile, I have managed to turn this whole thing around, he is goodness personified, his beauty eclipses my own dowdiness and he is nice enough to look past the sweat, he is charming and I am smitten, “Joshua, you forgot to tell me when I should come back.”
How coy the boys in this world can be… who says its just girls who play these games? I roll my eyes a tad bit and wiggle the bag in my hand, “Yeah, to bring back the Video.”
His brows furrow, a frown (oh hateful frown) darkens his countenance… “You don’t have to bring it back, you just bought it.”
There is a moment of hesitation before I realize my mistake, a moment of still blissful ignorance before the store spins a tad on its axis and I am running, running out the door and into the blinding light, running across the sidewalk past the huge colorful signs proclaiming “Buy Previously Viewed Movies Here” running with my hair falling down my back in clumpy chunks and my frumpy shorts slipping and my spaghetti stain bouncing along alerting the whole world that this is not a smooth sophisticated young woman… this is a silly sweaty girl running down a sidewalk carrying a Video that she now owns forever, a Video that she will have to hide in her underwear drawer so as not to get into trouble, a Video for a movie that she has never heard of, that she didn’t want for an evening of imagined maturity that she is only now realizing she can’t really have...
Four years later I took that movie with me to college, still unwrapped in its plastic, the receipt stuck to it. When my dorm mate bailed on the whole “higher education” experience to enjoy instead just the “experience of being high” and stole most of my things, she took it with her.
It was almost a relief to know that I wouldn’t ever have to bring it home again.