12 February 2011

1996 - 15th Anniversary

It may seem strange to celebrate the 15th anniversary of 1996, but it was an important year for me.  I entered the year a junior in high school and finished it a senior.  Just prior to summer vacation--my last before graduating--we moved from my childhood home.  I got the basement, and a roommate: our collie, Chancey whom I took to calling, "Dog."  We got along fabulously.  It was the first full year of operation for the Oldham 8 theater, meaning it was the first entire year I was able to go to movies on a regular basis.  In October, the Yankees/Braves World Series was so great it resurrected my love of baseball which had died five years earlier after my Cincinnati Reds practically dismantled their 1990 championship team.  And Star Wars was back in vogue, with novels and comic books being published with increasing regularity and action figures had just begun to appear on shelves in 1995 after a decade of absence.  It was a good time to be a geek.

I can see in retrospect things I should have done differently (I really should have made more of an effort to learn to drive, but I honestly just never cared for the task).  Still, it was a great year for me on the whole.  My friends and I spent many a Friday night gallivanting around not just our own county, but some of the neighboring ones as well.  A typical night would see us taking in the last showing of a movie at the Oldham 8 before 6:00 (that way we still only had to pay matinée ticket price), then we'd walk across town.  Sometimes we'd hoof it up to Main Street and grab a bite at Champion Barbecue (their pork BBQ sandwiches were awesome).  Other times, we'd swing into McDonald's, which was on our way from the theater toward my neighborhood.  And often, we'd forgo eating altogether.  Typically, we'd wind up stopping at Movie Warehouse where we'd rent three movies.  We liked to pick a different theme each week, often (but not always) built around a single person.  For Val Kilmer Night, as an example, we rented Tombstone, Thunderheart and The Ghost and the Darkness.

We didn't necessarily all pay the same amount of attention to the movies at hand.  Sometimes someone would hole up in a folding chair with a stack of comics.  Many times, we'd pull out my Star Trek action figure collection and spend hours (yes, hours, in its plural form) posing them in elaborate, juvenile arrangements.  Sometimes it would be a twelve figure conga line, weaving around drunken, passed out Scotty.  One of our favorites was the 1992 Commander Riker figure, who was molded in a particularly awkward stance with one hand held palm forward and fingers spread.  We called him, "Sex Offender Riker."  You'd be surprised what that hand fit against.  We wanted to try with the Star Wars figures, but Playmates Toys made it much easier for us than did Hasbro; most Trek figures had a lot of articulation, and a ton of accessories.  Just our luck, several of those accessories were bottles and other phallic shaped items.  I should probably take time to apologize to Marina Sirtis and Terry Farrell, whose likenesses weren't always treated with respect.  And Wil Wheaton, while I'm being honest.

These are all inane activities, of course, and nothing terribly significant.  It wasn't the activities themselves that really mattered, though.  Rather, it was that year in which my friends and I really began to spend a lot of time together.  It was our first true taste of freedom and independence.  I don't even really recall being asked what we were planning for a Friday night, or where we'd been.  It was nice, just screwing off with other like-minded people.  God knows it made the school week tolerable, as I rarely saw much of my friends there and was acutely aware how poorly I fit in with everyone else.  Then again, maybe the rest of my classmates would have gotten just as big a kick out of Val Kilmer Night and Sex Offender Riker.