Sunday, March 16, 2008

People will see me and cry

Guilty-pleasure confession: I sat up much too late last night, past midnight, because...I was watching Ice Castles on ABC Family. Yyyeeeaaaah. Oh, dear Lord, how I loved that movie when I was 10 or 12 or so. I was frankly shocked at how much of it I remembered, vividly, music cues and line-for-line dialogue. Either I begged to rent it (on Betamax, naturally) 25 times or it was in heavy rotation on HBO during one of the infrequent periods in which we splurged on premium cable. It is a colossal cheese fest, and even though it is hilariously...unlikely, shall we say, I totally relished seeing it again. Nearly 30 years on (pause here for OHMYGOD inhalation), I was particularly enamored of the fashions, honestly: the little retro-70s ski togs, sporty striped sweaters and matching track pants with ankle zippers, so you could get them on and off over your boots. Wool...or, probably, some creepy polyester knit. I still wanted them...if not, so much, the extraordinary array of feathered-wedge haircuts on display.

Oh, man. The part where our heroine, Lexie, hits The Big Time? Before she is tragically blinded, I mean--where she goes to train at the Broadmoor World Arena and, like, lives in some kind of dorm of teen girl skaters? Like figure-skating boarding school? Ohhhh how I wanted that so badly when I was, what, 12? 14? Old enough to know better, honestly, but I longed for it. It would be like The Facts of Life--ON ICE!

Cintra Wilson, in her novel Colors Insulting to Nature, provides a sidesplitting dissection and analysis of this crappy dumbass movie, skewering all its Hollywood tropes and at the same time pointing out its perfect, desired effect on the book's protagonist, Liza. It's magnificent and I wish I had written it--hell, I might have except Wilson got there first. I could quote the whole thing but I'll just give you the money shot:

Liza, age ten, was devastated by the film's beauty and power.
She wanted more than anything to go blind and have Robby Benson restore
her, through Tough Love, to athletic championship, in both skating and

This same character, after Fame, also harbors a dream of attending the High School of Performing Arts in New York City. Which...uh, Cintra, give me back my Judy Blume diary, thanks much.

I was having dinner with a group of friends, some years ago now, when someone raised the question of "what did you want to be when you grew up?" I'd harbored vague ideas as a child about being a librarian--because I thought they got to live in the library--or a teacher, because I adored all of mine. And, probably always, some part of me wanted to be a writer. But I surprised myself and my dinner companions a little by answering thusly: "Famous." I wanted the abstract concept, more than any specific career; I didn't really care about the "for what?" part. Any opportunity to dance/sing/behave in a generally melodramatic fashion...oh, man, was I all over that. (Note that, in finally taking up figure skating, I deliberately selected a glamour sport; I owe quite a lot of that to ol' Robby Benson.)

In the privacy of my room, I sang into hairbrushes and talcum-powder canisters, or the pulley apparatus for my bedroom curtains. This was attached to the wall by a hinge, so that you could pull it out away from the wall or snap it back, obviously like a microphone in a stand. I practiced and practiced my award-acceptance speech(es), adding and cutting out my parents or whoever had mortally insulted me in fifth-period French that week. ("I'd like to NOT dedicate this Oscar to Joanna. She knows why.") And the fantasy of somehow, someday Being Discovered informed my every waking daydream, without question. I would be the diligent understudy, yanked from the wings when the lead got strep or the defending champion sprained her ankle. Or there would be a Hollywood talent agent at the next table at Perkins Cake & Steak--where Grandpa took us nearly every Friday night until he died--and he would look at me and just know. My moment was coming, I was absolutely certain of it. Any day now!

Any day now. Robby, call me!


Mrs. Mr. Sis said...

"Please, don't let this feeling end..."
Just so you know, I totally used to sing into the pully apparatus too after you moved out!

chicklegirl said...

Now I'm wondering how Joanna got on your bad side...