Growing up piss poor, you tend to basically appreciate luxuries almost as an awakening. When you can afford something you can’t have regularly, it makes it all the more valuable.
As trite as it sounds, those who have it all, don’t truly see how good they have it. And those who have nothing who can suddenly afford certain luxuries really discover the beauty behind it.
Growing up, we lived in a building with a higher crime rate than the entire borough. We suffered through a fire, no hot water, drug dealers, three robberies, and a landlord intent on killing his tenants. Seriously.
The primary luxury that we used to escape from the utter misery of starvation, poverty, and crime was television. Every Saturday we’d sit down with my mom to watch “Friday the 13th” and a slew of other horror oriented shows on WPIX Channel Eleven, and for a day we’d escape our misery.
My dad grew up just as poor, and suffering through a pretty terrible childhood, he learned how to appreciate his own children, and he always spoiled me and my little brother and sister. He worked literally four jobs every week and was always away.
And through all of it we couldn’t afford rent, or light, or even food, yet somehow we always had toys, and we always went to the movies. Going to the movies, for the poor, was an experience back then. It still is, I’d like to think.
Back then VHS tapes were still pretty pricey and we only had a few movies and a broken down VCR. S**t, we didn’t get a color television until 1990. So, every weekend my dad had to work, but he would always get off early, and off we’d go to the movies.
Nearly all of my first experiences with movie theaters involved my dad somehow. He took my brother and me to see “Masters of the Universe,” and even though I don’t remember it at all, he remembers it fondly. He also took us to “ET” and “The Abyss” which is a memory that’s very fond to me.
At the time, the image of the water entity extending to the group of people was amazing, and I was in sheer awe of this moment. It’s burned in my brain forever. As with most folks, obsession for film is fed by someone you know. It can be a friend, or a teacher, but most times I tend to hear of a film lover being turned on to film by a relative.
For me it was my mom and dad, and my uncle. For my horror obsession, my mom was instrumental. She’d always sit us down to watch semi-horror films like “Monster Squad” and “The Goonies,” and as I became older, she would feed us the hard stuff. But our introduction to films like “Friday the 13th” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was due to my brother and me stealing my mom’s copies and watching them in secret. Suffice it to say, it was quite a jolt.
But the thing about my dad was, he was always busy, always working, and always under the mercy of trying to make ends meet, yet he was always making time for my brother and I. Every Halloween we’d go trick or treating, every Christmas we had presents up the a*s, and every weekend, we’d go to the movies.
We watched “Home Alone” almost multiple times in the cold weather on Christmas, “The Gate 2,” “Power Rangers,” “Demolition Man,” and oh so much more. He was always gone during the day, and we’d barely ever see him come morning time, but he always made time, and that’s what made being poor a little less miserable. It’s what helped my pure obsession with films, and it’s a frame of reference when I become a father someday.
I don’t always remember where we went, how we got there, and what day of the week it was, but to this day I remember my dad rushing home from work, getting my brother and I dressed, riding in a taxi in the snow, and driving up to the Parkchester theater to dive into “Home Alone” for the tenth time.
That’s just the kind of guy he is.