I remember in the eighties our local ABC station did a summer promotion thing where they broadcast a different 1950s 3D movie every weekend for a month. I feel like we bought the glasses at 7-11; maybe they came with a Slurpee or something like that.
However we got them, I remember watching local weather guy Johnnie Mountain host a movie called Gorilla At Large. He shot the host segments wearing a striped suit and straw hat at Magic Mountain (and my memory insists that it had not yet been bought by Six Flags, but the timeline just as stridently disproves that, so we’re going with the data-driven argument while we stare real hard at people who ignore the data-driven argument because they don’t like the way it feels.)
I’m realizing as I type this that I just described Lyle Langley, so maybe my memory on that specific point is also unreliable. But, you know, print the legend I guess.
Gorilla At Large is the only movie I remember. I feel like there was one other gorilla-focused film, but I can’t say for sure. What I do recall about Gorilla At Large is that it was a lot of a guy in a suit who found reasons to lunge toward the camera, the 3D was cool, but not as immersive as I hoped it would be, Johnnie Mountain’s host segments were SO CORNY, and that I loved every second of it. I watched it on the floor in the den, with my brother and sister, on a huge pile of blankets and pillows we built, with all the lights turned out so there were no reflections on the TV. Mom made us Jiffy-Pop (we did the kind of helping where you watch), and dad must have been at work because I don’t remember him being there.
I just remember staying up past our bedtimes, watching a bad movie that was still fun, feeling the way I imagined families were meant to feel.
Wow. I’d forgotten all of that, but now I can see it as clearly as if the blue blanket was wrapped around me right now. Jeremy is wearing one of his hats, and Amy is still really little, so she falls asleep before the second or third commercial.
This must be from a time I call Before. It’s the most precious time in my life, before my mom sold me and my sister to The Curse, before I knew how my dad felt about me, before he decided to be my bully. Before sadness, loneliness, confusion, and fear filled up all this space in my life that I am still cleaning up today.
I don’t have a lot of clear and happy memories from my childhood, and when I saw this picture on Tumblr earlier, and thought it would be fun to write about watching a 3D movie on TV, I had no idea it would unlock this particular one, literally seconds ago.
But it’s like I’m looking at one of the pictures I don’t have because my mother still refuses to let me have any of my childhood. I can see it all so clearly, how much fun it was, how I felt like the big brother I always wanted to be, even if it was just for that one evening in the eighties.
I’m grateful for that. It’s nice to experience one of these memories, instead of the usual, for a change.