Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Why is it that every time I pass the Lifetime or Women’s Entertainment channels and Dirty Dancing is on, I have to stop and watch? There are plenty of movies that are shown all the time – I rememer The Princess Bride being on TBS a lot. That’s a respectable movie. But, no, I have to watch Dirty Dancing. (And I realize this is not exactly new material here, because I talked about watching it back in October, too. I have watched it several more times since then.) I have to watch Baby come out of her shell and learn how to dance, and I have to watch Baby’s father learn to accept Johnny, and I have to watch them do their dance at the end to “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.” And I have to sing along with all the songs. Including the “How do you call your loverboy?” song. Stop looking at me like that. The soundtrack is good. Except for that song that Patrick Swayze sings. And it’s good in an “I can’t believe anyone actually let him record this” kind of way.

Mike and I had an argument on Saturday night about Dirty Dancing, which I will recreate for you here.

MIKE: This is not a good movie! Stop watching it!

KARI: Take that back! It deals with important themes like . . . class dynamics and . . . abortion! And putting people in corners!

MIKE: Seriously? That’s the best you can do? What if you were sitting by a window and I walked up to you and said, ‘Nobody puts Kari by a window!’ Is that impressive at all?

KARI: Can you dance like Patrick Swayze?

MIKE: No.

KARI: Then it’s not impressive.

The first time I saw Dirty Dancing was at my friend Leslie’s house. She had seen it about 100 times, but I had never seen it (it is rated PG-13, and I was just 10), so we checked it out of the video store and she was so excited for me to see it. At the end of it, I remember feeling like I had maybe missed something. Now I know that “something” was “the entire abortion subplot.” I had no idea what was going on. I just liked the dancing. And yay for true love! I was ten, okay? I had similar feelings when I saw Grease as a college student – they rereleased it in theaters, and a bunch of girls from my hall decided to go. The remarkable thing about seeing the rerelease of Grease in the theater was that the girls I was with were not the only ones doing the handmotions during Greased Lightning. No, no, we were not. There were other groups of girls doing them as well. We all kind of waved at each other. This, I believe, is what college is really about – making a fool of yourself in public places. I learned that on 90210, when Donna and Kelly were pledging a sorority and had to walk around in their pajamas and cold cream and of course Kelly saw Dylan . . . or maybe it was John by then, but of course it didn’t matter, because, who are we kidding, she looked cute despite her pajamas. And whoever the guy was, he agreed. Anyway, the first time I saw Grease was in a basement, hanging out with my parents’ friends’ kids while my parents were hanging out with their friends. What I remember about Grease the first time is this: “Yay, singing! I love movies with singing!” What I remember from seeing it in college was: “How come I didn’t remember the pregnancy scare? And, wow, there’s a lot of talking about sex.”

There are just some movies that, no matter how bad they are, the memories associated with them are so good that you have to love them anyway. I haven’t seen Leslie since I graduated high school, but I always think of her when I see Baby and Johnny dancing. I don’t know exactly what all those kids from the basement are up to, but I always remember how the older ones had a little bit better idea of what was going on, because they kept trying to convince their parents that Grease was perfectly clean. Plus, I think there has to be some kind of clause or loophole regarding movies that you watched before a certain age. Let’s say 15. If you watched the movie (or *cough*90210*cough* television show) before that age, there’s no shame in admitting that, when you see it on TV, you just want to sit and watch for a little while.

Besides, where else would I have learned such gems as, “She leads me through moonlight, only to burn me with the sun . . . She’s taken my heart, she doesn’t know what she’s dooooooooooone?” (I remember, in high school, that our lunch table would spontaneously burst into that song from time to time. Leslie was, in fact, part of that lunch table.)

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