Last evening I looked at a door in my basement. It is an ordinary stained and varnished door except that it has dozens of louvers. And I thought of the movie The Lion King. Yes, I realize that the connection between Simba and a louvered door may not obvious to
most any of you, but let me explain.
When my children were young The Lion King was the “IT” movie. We took them to see it in the theater and then bought the VHS tape (as we used to do in that technologically crude age).
Around that time I purchased and hung a door in an open doorway in my basement family room. It was a louvered door 1) because there was not much of a heating duct system in the various rooms there and 2) because the two other doors in the area were also louvered.
One Saturday I needed to stain and varnish the door. After some experimentation I found a combination of two different stain colors that I could apply (one over the other) which would match the existing woodwork which dated from the late 1950s. After staining it would be necessary to finish with a coat of polyurethane varnish .
The problem is that my Mrs. had somewhere to be and the three little ones were under my care. The brilliant solution was to set them up with a movie to watch while I worked. It was all in the same room so I could keep an eye on them while I worked and they would stay there because not once did any of them ever abandon The Lion King while it was playing.
The movie finished at about the halfway point in the job. Whereupon I asked: “Do you guys want to watch it again?” They were all in so I rewound the tape and we went for the bonus replay. To this day there are two hard and fast associations in my mind. When I look at a louvered door I think of The Lion King. And when I think of The Lion King I think about staining and varnishing a louvered door. And no, I do not believe that any of their subsequent behavior was affected by exposure to paint fumes.
It occurred to me that there are a few other movie associations that I make. Whenever I think of 2001: A Space Odyssey I think of another movie – Gentle Ben. Gentle Ben is not all that well remembered but they were in the theaters at the same time in 1968. My father was going to take my sister and I to a movie. I was nine and she was seven. The two choices were, well you can guess. Dad outvoted us and we saw 2001. Which thoroughly confused me at age nine.
In truth, the movie kind of confuses me at age 59 too, but let’s not go there. Afterwards, Dad agreed that Gentle Ben might have been a better choice. For some reason I have still never gotten to see Gentle Ben. I have tried to not think about Gentle Ben whenever I see a reference to 2001, but my brain says “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Which irritates me a little because my brain knows good and well that my name is not Dave.
The 1964 film Mary Poppins reminds me of neighbors who lived across the street from my family – the Ushers. Mary Poppins was one of the first movies I ever saw in a theater. Shortly after the neighbors were over for a visit one day. For those under fifty or so, yes – suburban neighbors used to socialize together. It came up in conversation that we had seen Mary Poppins and they replied that they had seen it as well. “Wow”, I remember thinking, “our neighbors saw the same movie we did. What a coincidence!”
OK, I probably did not know the word “coincidence” at the age of five but it still boggled my young mind that people who lived across the street from us had actually seen the same movie that we did. In my defense, I believe that every five year old has a mind that boggles easily. To this day Mary Poppins makes me think of the Ushers and on those rare occasions when I think of the Ushers I think of Mary Poppins. And their 1964 Chevrolet convertible. So I have a kind of three-way association going on here.
And is there anyone else who thinks of a spouse when a picture of Leslie Nielsen flashes across the screen? Especially when that spouse is a Mrs. and not a Mr. For our first date my future Mrs. and I went to the movies. We watched The Naked Gun, a 1988 police detective comedy that followed the style of the 1980 disaster film parody Airplane. Which also starred Leslie Nielsen, come to think of it.
That first date nearly led to disaster. The future Mrs. JPC sat stone-faced through much of the show. “Uh-oh, she doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor” was my concern. She later related to me that she had a reciprocal worry, something like “he must be crazy to think this is funny.”
We were fortunate to get over that early patch of incompatibility and have found that our taste in movies is aligned more often than it is not. We have not, however, attempted to re-watch The Naked Gun. Some things are just best left alone.
This one differs a little from the other examples. It is true that Leslie Nielsen never fails to make me think of Mrs. JPC. Mrs. JPC does not, however, always make me think of Leslie Nielsen.
Which is a very good thing.
Opening photo – Unaltered Drawing by Raymondsanti at sketchport.com (https://www.sketchport.com/drawing/6353855952453632/the-lion-king) under CC BY license.