Chapter 25: Film Fanatic Vol. 1
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The days were getting shorter, and my chemo was halfway done– HALFWAY! Three down, three to go. I couldn’t believe it was already nearing November. In these times of reflection, I’m reminded of how lucky I am that (so far) I haven’t seen many complications during chemotherapy.
Most kids who roll onto the eighth floor of Eastern Maine Medical Center experience serious side effects. Again… everybody reacts differently, aside from the few constants: nausea, shedding of hair and skin, and lethargy akin to that of a sloth.
But as my counts were slowly on the rise and my inevitable return home came near, I could feel a surmounting energy emanating from within.
I was cracking out of the shell of funk that had surrounded me (whether or not it was the medication), and it was breathtaking. I was able to leave a bit more often since Ronald McDonald House was an option now. I was discharged there for the few days before the last thing between me and my home was scheduled: A lumbar puncture to determine if the chemo was indeed continuing its job of poisoning me.
Once again, it was nearing the weekend, and my Dad and Brother were able to take me over to the Ronald McDonald House for this respite. As we arrived, and the night had begun to fall on this particularly chilly day, I had a request:
“Dad, can we go do something? I’d like to get out of here for the night and experience more of Bangor.”
“Sure. What do you have in mind?”
I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I sat there pensive for a moment, then replied: “Can we eat out somewhere like Chili’s and maybe catch a movie?”
“Sounds like a plan, man,” my Dad replied.
I chuckled. Dad was always chock full of these euphemisms, and “hip” speak, and while some would be cheesy, most of them were wholly unique and unlike the majority of “Dad jokes” that I had learned over the years. He just had this particular cadence in his speech that elevated him above the rest of Dads out there, and I enjoyed it very much– especially now.
I brought out the phone book from near the landline phone and called Hoyt’s in Bangor. The movies playing then were Out of Time, School of Rock, Intolerable Cruelty, Kill Bill Vol.1, House of the Dead, Runaway Jury, and the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I wasn’t much for chick flicks, so immediately Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney’s film was out, and I was looking for some action, so Jack Black didn’t have a chance. Finally, I landed on the film and found the show time that best fit our meal plan.
Dinner at Chili’s was the same situation as any other public setting while I was sickly, bald, and masked: I’d get a mixture of weird looks and indifferent people, but the mix wasn’t as lop-sided on the “weird” like Fort Kent had been in the past. Most people seemed to mind their own business here and let us eat in peace.
I was still on a restriction for raw vegetables, so I instead ordered some cooked green beans with my chicken finger meal. I must have had three sodas that night, as my sugar rush kept me up well into entering the theatre.
We opened the doors and approached the box office. There was a line at least eight deep; the theater was packed. The anticipation to watch a movie in theatres was palpable. I hadn’t been to the theatres since August when I brought my Brother Travis and Cousin Jason to two films at Hoyt’s at the Presque Isle Mall.
First, we went into a month late showing of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Surprisingly, they didn’t card them as they were only fifteen then. We got in, watched it, and it was okay. We had a great time, even if it didn’t really make any sense. Looking back on it, it was a form of foreshadowing because Sarah Connor had died of Leukemia in the past of the film. If only I had researched it then, I probably wouldn’t have been so terrified that fateful first day in the hospital.
Then, I remembered the second film that month. This one had been one of my most anticipated films of that entire year, and we watched it the week before my ambulance ride down to Bangor. I had always loved crossovers and had been looking forward to these two horror titans clashing since the end of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. That’s right, we went to see Freddy Vs. Jason.
Since I had a job then, (and the missed expendable income) I used to pay for them to come with me, as it was something we could all do together. But this time, the ticket taker said the two younglings couldn’t see this particular film due to its R rating. I was pissed. Why did it matter now, when we were fine before at Terminator 3?
I pulled them back and we talked in the entryway. I contemplated having them go to the mall for two hours, but that would have been the antithesis to us sharing the experience. “Guys, just go say you’re watching Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, and then sneak into Freddy Vs. Jason.” They both refused at first. “We’ll get caught!” Travis blurted out.
“Oh come on! They won’t know!” I retorted.
“No way, “We could get arrested!” Jason shouted. I held his mouth, making sure not to look back at the bastard box office clerk. “You won’t get caught, as long as you play it cool. I promise.”
They agreed. I even played it up for the Ticket Chode. I gave them money for the tickets and approached the plastic preventing me from choking him out. “Well, we figured it out: they’ll go watch Spy Kids, and I’ll go to Freddy.”
The ticket bitch didn’t make any aggravated faces, most likely because he either: A. Bought it, or B. Didn’t give THAT much of a shit.
We all walked in and continued the charade. First, we got our concessions, each standing in our own line. I looked over at Travis and Jason; they were acting paranoid, fearful of getting caught for something they didn’t even do yet. ” shout-whispered, “HEY!” Then kept my hand near my leg and made a “calm down” motion.
They bought their food, and I waited for them. I scanned the “Coming Attractions” posters such as Scary Movie 3, Elf, and The Matrix Revolutions.
They finally caught up and we all scanned the empty halls of the theatre for employees then ran into Freddy Vs. Jason. It was an awesome film! Even though I felt Freddy should have won (and got more kills), it was still a great time.
As my daydreams of film-going past dissipated, we finally reached the desk, and I happily announced:
“Three for House of the Dead please!” I was so excited to see this film. I had seen the trailer for it on TV, and it looked like a cool video game adaptation.
We all sat down, and the movie began. But much like our time watching Spice World with Dad in 1997, he was snoring by the second act.
The movie was utterly terrible. I was so pissed when I got out, that I almost regretted my decision to go to the movies at all (definitely the decision to watch this crap), but I looked to my Dad and my brother next to me and knew this was the right call.
The next day, I asked if we could go to the movies again, and this time promised: “It’ll be a good one this time!” The three of us went into Kill Bill Vol. 1. There wasn’t any chance of being turned away this time; we had a parental guardian with us.
The film was a blast! We were all awake (even Dad!) for this non-stop action homage to classic genres of Tarantino’s favorites. In fact, the only issue I had was when someone mentioned The Bride’s name it had been bleeped out. I initially thought this was an issue with the theatre, but realized that every other utterance of her name was also bleeped. I was going to research this when I got back to the Ronald McDonald House.
We left the movies humming the song The Bride whistled for the rest of the night. It was a triumphant whistle of a successful theatre experience. No douchey ticket takers, no shitty films, just good times with good people.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.