I wanted to make sure that I’d go to something I absolutely wanted to do. It seems like such a strange phenomenon: to need to force oneself to do something necessary, no matter how frivolous. But in the “adult” world with families and jobs and other pressing demands for time, it is all too easy to let the necessary frivolities slide. Concerts, movies, events. The act of leaving the house at night to partake of something enjoyable often becomes a chore. It’s easy to get my daughter to sleep, throw myself on the bed and turn on the television. Something’s on. A hockey game. The World Series. If nothing else, there’s always Turner Classic Movies. All I need is to see Robert Osborne introduce some third tier Joan Crawford flick and I’m hooked.
It is easy to not make decisions and commitments. It comes so naturally to all of us. Our lives have become so… comfortable that we don’t need to exert any effort to remain perfectly placid.
Or so we think.
During my very first therapy session last winter, my therapist questioned what it is, if anything, I do for myself. What decisions do I make that purely benefit me? I had no answer. I wasn’t pretending to be the greatest husband and father in the universe, devoting all my waking hours to the care of my family. That wasn’t the point. I was plenty selfish of my time. But I participated in nothing. I floated from idle chore to idle writing time to idle video games. I’d stopped making active decisions.
So this week I made the active agreement with myself that I was going to see Ghostbusters on the big screen. I go balls out when I fucking cut footloose.
Background: I quote Ghostbusters at least once a day. It happens unconsciously, in paraphrase and directly. Cats and dogs living together… Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a God… Back off man, I’m a scientist… a couple of wavy lines… That’s right, this man has no Dick… Tell ‘em about the Twinkie… and so on and so forth. I hold three movies sacred. The Empire Strikes Back, Casablanca and Ghostbusters. There are a dozen or so demi-sacred movies. I’m just saying, there are tiers worship. …four feet above the covers! So I’m saying I’ve seen Ghostbusters a few times, including four times in the theater when I was only six years old and still had to hide my eyes every time the Librarian Ghost goes “RAWR!” That was your plan? Get her!?
I got to the theater early-ish to make sure I could get my seat. Left side of the theater, mid-distance from the screen, two to three seats into the row. By the time the movie started, only the front section of seats remained a viable choice for parties of more than two. The seats were filled with people wearing Ghostbusters tees and hoodies. After all, if you’d even botheed to figure out when and where the revivals were playing you were clearly a fan. There was no real publicity, just social media buzz from the Ghostbusters Facebook page driving these screenings on each of the three Thursdays before Halloween.
The theater darkened. The Columbia woman filled the screen, the grainy film stock usurping the screen from the digital perfection of the ads and trailers beforehand. I sat with my bag of slightly buttered popcorn and Cherry Coke, more self-medications, a permanent smile of my face, laughing with the crowd at the same jokes I repeated daily…. shocked to notice anything new. (There’s a Stay Puft ad painted on the brick building next to the Ghostbusters’ office… it’s no wonder Ray couldn’t help himself.) This is catharsis. Laughing in unison with the crowd even before the gag. This is why we make an effort to do something frivolous. This is therapy. Take the time to do what you love. Return to a moment in your childhood when you had nothing to do but enjoy being six (even if you didn’t know what that meant at the time). Even if it’s watching the same movie, listening to the same CD or reading the same book. These frivolous activities have meaning as long as we make the choice and the effort to participate.