Through the stampeding crowds I still managed to notice Susan walking by. Perhaps it was my soon-to-be 12 year old brain feeling woozy from the darkened movie theater's delights, but I quickly decided to follow her to wherever she was going. This is where I just admitted to stalking a girl that I had a crush on all summer long. Heck, all year long as she was in my Home Room and most of my classes that year at Seth Low Junior High School in Brooklyn, New York USA. It could also be that I confused Susan's charms for that of new burgeoning movie star Elisabeth Shue (AKA: She who had kicked a soccer ball to my head and awoke the beast within from The Karate Kid) It was my favorite picture that year and I went to it seemingly all the time. They did share similar looks as both sported curly, dirty blonde tresses and a kind of general girl next door vibe. I was almost 12, give me a break! I weaved in and out of this human traffic; narrowly avoiding the meatheads and the huge hair they called girlfriends who seemed to be everywhere. I ducked behind stalls and whirly twirly kiddy rides hoping she wouldn't know I was re-imagining The Police's Every Breath You Take right behind her. I came close a couple times because the friend that she was with, who's name I totally forget (You'll learn that I am very good at this) almost spotted me when I got too close for comfort. God, I use to love that show! Anyway, she made her way up through the festival and down the street and I watched as she parted ways with her friend. She had then ducked into a house that I eventually learned was where she lived.
I suppose I should have felt sleazy following her home but my only intention was to work up some courage and ask her out. I never did. Though we eventually became minor friends for a short period of time, I think I was just fodder until her usual friends came onto the scene. And it probably didn’t help that the only fight I ever got into throughout my entire adolescent existence involved a softball and Susan’s twin brother just 2 months prior. I believe that particular day I was full of testosterone because I had snuck into “Predator” just the day before with 3 or 4 friends--none of whom I can seem to picture in my head anymore, let alone their names. I do however recall seeing Predator opening day, June 12th of that year. I remember my friends being so utterly psyched that we were able to sneak into an R rated film without parents around. Little did they realize by June 12th 1987 I was already a master of being able to sneak into any movie, anywhere, anytime. Did I have a beard then too?
1987 was a year of crushes for me, whatever their names were, but it was much more of a year of movie shows…I saw just about everything I could. That summer I would take in 3 or 4 movies a day alone all summer. Everything from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace to The Untouchables, The Believers, Wish You Were Here, The Gate, Roxanne, Revenge Of The Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, Matewan, Who’s That Girl?, The Witches Of Eastwick, RoboCop, Benji: The Hunted, Jaws 4: The Revenge!, Summer School, Maid To Order, The Lost Boys (with real life actual vampires in attendance!--more about that another time) and even smarty arty Jean De Florette. I just had to see them all and sometimes repeatedly. I would often flash my student ID and hop on the subway back into my old stomping grounds of Hell’s Kitchen and Times Square where I originally grew up just to go watch movies. In theaters filled with rats, bums, hos, hypodermics and permanently glucose-d floors no less. Since I was exposed to these wonderful, natural elements of 1980s New York City living there at such a young age none of it frightened or deterred me from this growing passion. Horror movie shows, while scaring the crap out of me, became a constant until I launched myself away from them for a bit to retreat to a screwball comedy, fantasy or foreign film. This came about because my Grandmother, who raised me from age 5 onward, would soon become obsessed with them herself and they were becoming all too encompassing for my already screwed-with head. Eventually I had returned to the Scary Movie shows, restoring balance in my movie universe and I haven’t looked back since. And sometimes, I even go into the basement even though the movie trailer clearly said DON’T.
After the summer of ‘87 life for me was just a bit different… I entered a permanent state of euphoria where the only things that made me seem like I was home was my darkened seat 4 rows back in the center and the theater’s policy up on the screen…No, thank you for being there for me to come to, Loews…. that brought me through the very end where I learned that when in Hollywood I should totally visit Universal Studios. I eventually did visit some 20 years later and it just wasn’t cool at all. But movie shows, no matter the quality, always are. This obsession coincided with a movie collecting passion which began that year as films were becoming more affordable to own on the VHS format. There were stores popping up everywhere offering used Videos for some bucks and I quickly started playing scavenger and invaded them on weekdays after school and weekends. My collection kept growing through the late 80’s onward until this day, but I never gave up going to the picture shows. Nothing would ever match that experience. But still, my own personal copy of a favorite Teen Slob or Sex comedy of the 1980s on VHS and later DVD is a terrible thing to waste. And “Secret Admirer” I’m totally talking to you.
Susan, it turned out, was a monster New Kids On The Block Fan. I’m talking bedroom-plastered-everywhere-with-posters-and-teen-beat-photos-galore-fan. It was rumored she dyed her curls to a color that suited Joey or Donny or whoever best. And no, I didn’t go back to her house and further engage in Every Breath You Take stalking to authenticate any of this. She admitted it freely after being probed by someone at school and I merely just eavesdropped—a much more minor invasion of privacy, don’t you think? So as it happens, Susan didn’t have “The Right Stuff” after all. But I did. On VHS even!