For me, it was sixth grade. We had a dollar theater (where you pay a buck -- actually a buck and twenty-five cents -- and see a movie that everyone else already saw earlier in the year) in my neighborhood. My best friends Scott and Gina were always sneaking into films without paying. On top of that, they were always seeing rated-R films. It was a big to do to get my parents to take me to a PG film -- to watch a PG film with them. I had to beg and plead for that to happen.
But Private Benjamin (a classic film starring Goldie Hawn) looked so funny. And it was coming to the dollar theater. Sometimes, Scott, Gina and I -- and sometimes our other friend Scott -- would be outside the movie theater on our way home from school. And we'd look at the movie posters. I knew Scott and Gina were at least heavy petting. But what I really cared about was they were seeing all the great movies.
You have to understand, there weren't VCRs, cable didn't exist in most places in the US. If you saw a movie, you either saw it while it was at the movies or you caught it two to three years later when it showed up on ABC, NBC or CBS and it was heavily edited.
And I used to lie in school. I'd read Mad magazine. Does anyone remember that? I loved Mad. But I'd read Mad magazine and I'd know their movie spoof and I'd pretend like I saw the movie. Most of the time I got away with it. A few times I'd have to say, "Oh, I must have missed that when I went to the bathroom!"
But I rarely got to go to the movies.
My grandmother took me to Return To Witch Mountain (have I told this before? She loved Bette Davis) and to something with a kola bear and dugs (Barnaby and Me?). And I saw some Burt Reynolds film at a drive in because my dad loved Burt Reynolds movies with all the chases and stunts. And my mother took me to three movies, just us. And that's really it. Just getting to go along to the drive in was a big deal.
So anyway, the dollar theater had one screen. Can you believe that?
Only one screen. And there were posters on the left side showing what was coming. And then a poster on the right showing what was playing and it was also on the marquee.
So I told my mother it was some kid's movie and that it was really important to me to see it and I just stayed on her case until she relented. So she drove me there on the Friday night.
Now Scott and Gina were there waiting. But they were going to do their sneak in.
I had already lied to my mother (and father), I wasn't going to risk the cops being called. So I went up to the window and tried to buy my ticket.
The woman told me this was a rated-R movie. I said I know and my parents already bought their tickets. She looked at me trying to size me up and I turned towards the glass door where all these people were walking in and yelled, "Dad! I'm buying my ticket right now! Wait a minute for me!"
The woman looked over and tried to see some man standing there that could be my dad but there were a lot of people waiting to buy tickets and she just took my money and gave me my ticket.
I was in.
Would I get away with it?
Scott and Gina were hollering to me to sit in the back with them. Which I did.
During the previews, Scott tried to grab my right boob, snake his hand over and get my budding breast. I already knew I wasn't into guys and Scott knew that but I guess a playa's gotta try to play.
He and Gina made out throughout the movie.
I watched the movie.
It was so funny.
To this day, I can tell you every scene of the movie. As I did to everyone at school the next day. Including the first 'dirty' joke in the movie where her husband has a headache and Goldie says she'll get him some aspirin. It's not that kind of headache, he tells her. (He wants a blow job.)
It was so funny.
And Goldie was so great.
At the end of the movie, the last section, Scott and Gina were done messing around and were watching. Goldie slugs her fianacee at the alter (she's figured out he's cheated on her and forced her to sell herself out) and walks out of the chapel. And Scott goes, "She must be a lesbian like you!"
That's the only thing that would have made Private Benjamin better for me! If Judy Benjamin had been a lesbian. :D
But Judy was hilarious and funny and she learned she was stronger than she thought and she was just so amazing. So it really didn't matter that she wasn't a lesbian. Besides, I could tell myself, Goldie Hawn hadn't met me yet so how does she really know what she wants? :D
Seriously, this was a magical movie and a magical moment. I love that movie to this day. I will see anything (first weekend it's out) with Goldie Hawn it because she is the first movie star for me. She's the one who really meant something up on that big screen.
Anyway, my mom picks me up and I thought the marquee would be off. It's not. And my mom's rushing over to me and saying she hopes I'm okay because I must have had the wrong date -- she honestly blamed Scott's mother -- because it wasn't a kid's movie. Was I traumatized? Was I okay?
I asked her if I could be honest?
She nodded nervously.
I told her it was hilarious and I told her the whole movie. And when we got home, I told my father the whole movie.
And Saturday night, I'm in my room listening to the radio and flipping through magazines when my dad says to put on some shoes.
"They change the movie Sunday, so let's go see this Private Benjamin."
And we did. My parents and me. And I laughed just as loud as the first time and I didn't care if it were a blow job joke or whatever. I just laughed. They did too. If it's funny, my parents are up for anything.
And, again, I still love Private Benjamin to this day. My first grown up movie and what a great movie.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"