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Thursday, December 29, 2005


The first movie I ever saw without my parents was The Goodbye Girl.  I was eleven years old.  I was with my friend Tracey.  We bought popcorn and a candy bar each and pop.  Mine was Dr. Pepper, and to this day whenever I drink that I am back in that movie theater, feeling grownup to be without an adult and watching a romantic comedy as opposed to a Disney animation.  I'm sure I didn't really understand it but it nonetheless thrilled me.

Tracey was sweet and got good grades.  She was my first friend when I moved to town in fourth grade, the first girl to invite me to her house.  Her mother was also sweet and kind and wore an apron.  She saved all of Tracey's school papers and had them filed away in a closet, neatly.  My mom may have saved my papers; I had no idea.  If she did, they were in a messy heap somewhere.  I had never even thought about the concept of saving schoolwork but as Tracey hauled out file after file and we pored over her kindergarten scribbles it suddenly seemed like the most adorable thing in the world. 

When we were eleven I started to get greasy hair and pimples but Tracey's beauty problems were dry skin and hair.  That seemed so sophisticated to me.  So glamorous.  It was, of course, a lot more aesthetically pleasant to apply silky creams and lotions than to be always stripping one's face with Stridex pads and using noxious-smelling ointments.  And if I didn't wash my hair daily (I didn't), it was oily and limp.  Tracey washed her hair every Saturday and it always looked exactly the same: just right.

Even her voice was cute.  It was high-pitched and feminine, and she had a tape of her at around the age of two or three (her mother had carefully stowed it away with the schoolwork files) that we used to listen to over and over while squealing with laughter over her elf-like voice.  My voice was, and is, nondescript.  Not high or low or pretty or cute. 

But the movie... I watched Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss fall in love while drinking Dr. Pepper and feeling the heady freedom of future movies with friends and trips to the mall.  It was all so exciting and full of possibility. I could grow up to be like Marsha Mason, or at least more like Tracey.  Anything was possible.

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