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Thursday, November 17, 2011
I still remember it like it was only a day ago. We were at a party with some family friends, sitting around the kitchen counter talking to the parental units about the usual things. You know how high school was going, what were we thinking about for college, why were we not upstairs playing video games and staying out of the way of the adults. When suddenly one of them turned to me and said "Ryan, come here." I obliged, as I'm so inclined to do. My first thought was that I was in trouble or was about to be asked some stupid question about some random pop culture icon I was only vaugely aware of.
As I got closer I realized they were talking about movies. Fair enough, but I still didn't see what that had to do with me. But all the same the three women looked at me and just said "What's that movie with Richard Gere and that guy where he's got a double personality thing?" It didn't take me long to muster up a response, and so I quite simply delivered "Primal Fear with Edward Norton." "That's it" they responded with some enthusiasm, and I took pride in knowing that I could be of help to whatever series of events had led them onto that topic.
It was what followed that struck my memory chords so profoundly. "That Ryan, I swear he's seen every movie ever made. He's our resident film buff." Now I want you to take a moment. If you were to imagine me as I appear today you might not think much of it, but at the time that would have been akin to saying I was the star quarterback or a prodigal musician. I had seen a fair number of movies, but "every movie ever made" and "film buff" just didn't fit my daily schedule. Even if you strip the former of its hyperbolic nature, I wouldn't have even cracked the surface.
If you were to say "M*A*S*H fanatic" or "Dragon Ball Z buff" I would understand. After all, those were the shows I watched back then and that was about all I watched. In fact the only reason I knew Primal Fear was the answer was because it was on HBO in the two hours leading up to the party and I decided I'd kill some time by watching it. A fact I tried to point out to the trio but by then I had once again been relegated to 'kid who should be upstairs playing video games instead of down here with the adults.'
But "film buff" was not the self image I had. Mind you, this was before Kurosawa, Wilder, and Hitchcock had invaded my life. Movies were a second tier thought to me, ranking behind the afore mentioned shows and an unhealthy addiction to Harvest Moon 64. If I did watch a movie it was likely whatever mindless action film was on television at the time. I never bothered to commit any of them to memory, and most are still just one pile of a jumbled mess in my head today. They were food, taken in and released out in equal measure. I felt no need to hold onto them, and therefore being asked questions about them was an alien feeling.
Over time things changed, and perhaps in small part to that singular event, I began to journey into the world of film. Being called a film buff, or simply being a "go to" guy for movie related questions, became commonplace. Yet I still like to look back and wonder what impact that had on me. If deep down I started feeling an obligation to know more about movies because it was expected of me. Even if at the time I had no idea why.