It's not often that I reminisce about my childhood. I didn't have a particularly unhappy childhood, by any means; I just didn't like myself overly much, and what's the point of looking back on a time in which you felt you were not totally awesome? There is none. No point. That said, today someone mentioned offhand the movie The Boy Who Could Fly and I was instantly taken back to a much more innocent, yet frizzier-haired time.
The year was 1989. (I think. It could have been 1990. I really can't say. The late-80s, early-90s were, for me, a lost time comprised mostly of badly permed hair, tragic sartorial choices and changing my baby brother's diaper. I've successfully repressed most of it.) The scene: my living room. The cast of characters: myself and my childhood friend Natalie. I remember that my mother was outside in the backyard gardening and my dad had taken my baby brother for some male/drooling turtle bonding. Natalie and I, having grown tired of my toys, looked for other entertainment. First we worked on our Star Search dance routine, which we were sure would not only get us on the show but also ensure our victory over the reigning champions, and which consisted mostly of finger snaps, some tumbling moves and one very ill-timed high kick. To this day, it is probably the best choreography I have ever come up with. Our dance perfected (well, for that day. We obviously could not go full-tilt without the requisite feather boas or sequined headbands.), we decided to relax and watch a movie. I skimmed the shelves of VHS tapes until I came across one with a hand-written label: The Boy Who Could Fly.
Sounds great, doesn't it? A boy! AND HE FLIES. This promised to be warm-hearted family fare, perfectly appropriate for two children in the blush of innocence. I popped the tape into the VCR and Natalie and I settled down on the floor. What appeared on the screen, however, was a little more than we'd bargained for.
The movie opens with a shot of a red Corvette pulling up to a house. A woman steps out of the car wearing killer red stilettos . . . and nothing else. As I can recall, she then goes up to the door and knocks seductively (I assume it was seductively. I was nine, so I didn't really know. She could have been doing Shave-and-A-Haircut, for all my grasp of subtlety.). A muscular, yet disturbingly hairy, man opens the door in much the same attire as the woman. Um, he didn't have on heels, though. What proceeded to follow was enough to ensure that neither Natalie nor I ever needed The Talk from our parents. We got a few years' worth of sex education in one short afternoon.
Natalie turned to me shortly after the first blow-job, but before the neighbor-accidentally-walks-in-and-then-joins-in scene, and said, wide-eyed, "Erin, I don't think this is The Boy Who Could Fly." But I, with all the naivete and perseverence of youth, answered, "oh, no, see, I think they taped The Boy Who Could Fly over this movie. It'll probably start any second."
Thirty minutes later, The Boy Who Could Fly still had not magically appeared, and just as we were about to accept that there would be no flying in this movie we were watching, my mother came in from outside. You know how, sometimes, you're really angry with someone for snooping in your drawers, and the anger is one-half "how could you do this?" righteous indignation, and one-half extreme embarassment that they might have seen your threadbare underwear, or your baggie of pot, or your trapper-keeper that was covered with a picture of Kirk Cameron and had "Mrs. Doogie Howser" scrawled on the top (whatever, fifteen is still a perfectly fine age to nurse your dreams of wedding a brilliant, teenage doctor)? Multiply that by the factor of Holy Shit My Third-Grader Is Watching Porn And Her Super-Catholic Friend Is Watching It With Her. The resulting sum might begin to approach the level of apoploxy my mother exhibited. Natalie had to go home immediately and her parents banned her from coming over to my house to play for a year. My parents insisted on pre-watching every movie I expressed an interest in until I was fourteen. Worse, I never did get to find out what happened to the nice people in the film. They all seemed so happy.
As I look back, I have to confess that it was a memorable - if emotionally scarring - way to find out what we all find out some day: my parents watch porn. It could have been worse. It could have been home-made porn and not, as I later came to find out, something a friend of theirs taped off Skinemax one night. But still, to this day, I have not seen The Boy Who Could Fly. I just have too much related guilt to ever be able to watch it. Natalie at least got to go to Confession, eventually.