What are dreams made of?
That was the first question that came to my mind when I tried to decipher the perfectly blended wisp of nostalgia and sadness upon hearing that Blockbusters will officially be gone forever. I’m the biggest fan of story that I know, and that question has always been at the root of it. I don’t have an answer, but the exploration of questions is what builds stories, not answers. And that was the best part of going to Blockbuster.
I’m six years old, and my family peruses the aisles for that perfect family flick. We’ll all make a submission to the ensuing democratic process. Short Circuit will probably win out (it always does). I have no valid opinions to contribute at this point in my life, but I’m learning. The stories I select say a lot about where I’m at in my own life, my own story. It’s the reason my parents have Pretty Woman tucked away for a dictatorial, late night viewing. Must be this tall to view cacophonous piano sex.
I’m 11 years old, and Mom’s out of town with our baby sister. Guy’s night! Dad takes us to the ‘Buster. My older brother talks him into the “too crass for lady folk” PG-13 comedy, Happy Gilmore. We may or may not have celebrated by running through the always-empty foreign film section making fart noises with our armpits. Then Dad one-upped up us by picking up our first R-rated movie to make the evening an unprecedented double feature. The grand daddy of all MAN movies, Braveheart! So maybe he made me close my eyes when the peasant girl’s breasts came out, and when her throat was subsequently slit, but it didn’t matter. Not unlike Squints Palladorous coming of age, I walked a little taller after that night.
[*if you consider anything revealed about Braveheart to be a spoiler after having 20 years to see the greatest movie ever (apologies Godfather Part II), then you’re dying, not truly living.]
I’m 18 years old. I’ve got an arm around Karen and I’m crushing what will become one of my favorite dates, the Blockbuster foreplay. We both know that getting a movie to watch in her parents basement is code for make-out sesh (maybe more, fingers crossed). But amidst the mixed rows of DVDs and VHS’s (rest in peace), we share so much. I reveal depth and vulnerability about crying during The Green Mile when I was 16. I quote Super Troopers, sing Beauty and the Beast, and I don’t care who’s eavesdropping because they’re just extras in my live-action rom com. And Karen shared, uh, well…you know, there’s a reason we didn’t make it.
I’m 22, and my buddy Big Phil ends a 45-min Blockbuster trip by talking me and our roommates into watching Natural Born Killers over UFC 57 (Couture-Liddell, baby!). We watch the movie and are all a little disturbed about what’s going on with Big Phil internally. I’m the only one who likes the movie, but I don’t tell anyone.
I’m 28, and it’s two weeks ago. My roommate Charles and I drive by a Blockbuster in Apex, NC. I Snapchat a pic of it with a caption that says, “Apex never says die. Peak of good livin.” Then I tell Charles, “It’s going to be really sad when all the movie stores are gone. Huddling around the RedBox just isn’t the same.” And scrolling through Netflix isn’t either. Dreams are stuff of the mind, and I’m pretty sure they’re a place where our collective memory of all that was meets our personal fantasies of what can be. That’s what walking through a Blockbuster meant to me. It was my literal Field of Dreams. Dream of a place far, far away. Dream of a post-apocalyptic future. Dream of the old west.
I’ll never know what dreams are made of, but I’ll miss Blockbuster, a place made of dreams.
Chillin’ in the ‘Buster,
Dusty “Dreamer” Riedesel