Date: Mon, 2 Dec 1999 18:40:11 -1000|
From: mitchell k. dwyer <email@example.com>
Subject: Dreambook: Entry 23 for In Medias Res
They closed the Cinerama Sunday night.
It was the biggest and best of the local movie houses, and thanks to the recent closings of the Marina, Kuhio, and Kapiolani theaters, it was one of the last.
When I was in high school, not so long ago, the Cinerama was the theater. My Adorable Learners don't remember a timewhen there was no such thing as a Mall Theater, but I do, and when a big movie came to town, it was sure to open at one of the Waikiki Theaters or at the Cinerama. Today, a big movie opens on twenty-five screens of various sizes at various locations, but in the 70s and 80s, it was Waikiki or the Cinerama.
Star Wars played at the Cinerama for a whole freakin' year! I remember standing in line for Return of the Jedi, with my friend Tien Enga (wonder where he is nowadays), on opening day. My second solo date with the Beautiful Woman Who May Not Love Me Anymore was during my senior year, the day after Thanksgiving, at the Cinerama: Star Trek IV.
So the Star-Bulletin ran a small blurb about the imminent closing of the Cinerama just five days before. Nothing else was said, so whenever I mentioned it to my friends, they had no idea what I was talking about.
I convinced Penny, Reid, and Larrilyn to go with me to the Last Show (The Insider at 10:00PM). We took pictures, posing at the box office, in front of the "Now Playing" poster, in line at the concession, even standing atop the ramp that leads to the bottom of the movie screen. We weren't the only ones with cameras. One guy even had a camcorder, with which he filmed the theater manager's pre-film welcome: "Welcome, everyone, to the last show at the Cinerama."
It was a good flick. There were fifty people in the theater, tops. As the credits rolled, nobody stood to beat the rush to the parking lot. The house lights went up. There was a nearly tangible, collective sigh. Some people clapped.
In the lobby, there was a huge cake, decorated with "Aloha Cinerama Theater." We were invited to have some, but I was too full of Diet Coke and frozen Junior Mints. Some of the theater's employees began to lay out a nice little potluck.
We stood out on the sidewalk, pausing at the now-empty "Now Playing" window.
When I was really young, I had this favorite blanket. My mom could never get me to go anywhere without it, and it was dirty and ratty and quite an embarrassment, I'm sure. I even had a name for the blanket, but I can't remember what my mom says it was (something horrid, like "Fufu").
One day, when I wasn't looking, she just hid the thing. I looked around for it and finally asked my mom where Fufu was, and she said she didn't know. My mom says I kinda sat there for a few minutes, quietly, then got up and did something else.
That was the end of the relationship.
With the blanket, silly. Not with my mom.
Five years ago, they finally built a new building for the Waipahu Public Library. It was huge, and air-conditioned, and rather state-of-the-art.
But I'd grown up in the small, hot, noisy building on Farrington Highway. Most of the books that set me on the path to eventually being an English teacher were borrowed from that library. Some, I'd borrowed over and over.
I'd spent almost every Saturday for most of my latter years of elementary school in that library.
So when they shut the doors for the last time, you-know-who was the last patron out the door. I spent the last thirty minutes just sitting in the juvenile fiction section, remembering the friends I'd made in that very space: Vicky Austin, The Black Stallion, Henry Huggins, Meg O'Keefe, Proginoskes (whose name I'd adopted as my computer handle in the glory days of Hawaii BBSes), and Danny Dunn. It sounds stupid, I know,but these fictional characters had as much to do with my own character development as my parents, teachers, and ministers.
This is how we grow up, you know: We don't make conscious decisions to leave childish things behind and to embrace more grown-up pursuits. No, the childhish things are taken from us, and sometimes we shrug and move on, and sometimes we linger and cry, and as we get used to having our blankets and libraries taken from us, we simply sigh, and celebrate the passing of another childhood icon, stopping for final pictures and pieces of cake.