Academy Awards season has long meant an “Oscar Hunt” for me—putting up a clipping of the nominee list up on the fridge and then hunting down as many of the movies as possible. I remember going to the movies with my best friend Larry in early 1970 to see a movie nominated for ten academy awards, a wonderful historical costume drama, “Anne of the Thousand Days.” It was playing as the main event of a double feature with “Goodbye, Columbus” at the humble El Camino Real in San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco.
The movie was rated “M” for “mature audiences” which meant that Larry’s mother (known lovingly as ‘Ma’ to one and all) had to get out of her car and sign us in. My initial reaction, of course, was humiliation. “M” is the precursor of today’s “PG-13” after all, and we were fourteen! Ma’s raucous laughter defused by hormonal outrage and I reverted to my Oscar fever mania.
“Anne” was a piece of cake for me, the nuances of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s torrid history already having thoroughly dissected by me. “Goodbye, Columbus,” the B feature, was another story --an unknown quantity to me and my first introduction to Philip Roth. The vagaries of upper-middle class twenty-something Jews in 1950’s New Jersey? That was foreign territory. Before you start thinkin’ that “Yeah, uh-hunh—the WASP didn’t get it,” please note that Larry is quite Jewish indeed and as clueless as I about Brenda Patimkin’s (Ali McGraw) machinations and Richard Benjamin’s whining. OK, I’ll concede that Larry is a California “Reformed-Reformed Jew” as he says, but still.
The pertinent subplot of “Goodbye, Columbus” involved Brenda’s brother Ron and his inability to move on from his college glory days at Ohio State, epitomized by his incessant replaying of an a album commemorating his days as a Buckeye on the Columbus campus. Every night Ron shuts himself away in his room (walls slathered in Ohio State memorabilia), and we hear the soundtrack repeatedly ending with the words “So we say goodbye to the red and gray…goodbye, Columbus, goodbye.”
The silly-yet-somewhat-sad and pathetic image of an alumnus wallowing in his Buckeye regalia long after graduation was forever solidified in my mind as the epitome of the over-aged fan. Someone I never wanted to be.
Well, here I am, in San Diego for a weekend planned around a visit to Petco Park to watch my San Francisco Giants take on the San Diego Padres, adult men playing that wonderful boys’ game. I have Giants regalia packed in bags, waiting for tonight’s main event. Forgive me, Ron Patimkin, I am you.
OK, OK, It’s not quite that bad. I don’t worship the jocks that play for my home team. I do enjoy the game and enjoy being a fan—NOT a fanatic. Almost every piece of Giants-themed gear I own was purchased for me by my wife. Of course, 90% of every stitch of clothing I own was purchased by my lovely Melissa. It makes her happy to buy me clothes. After 28 years, you are expecting this leopard to change his spots? I’m just saying.
I have attended sporting events in nearly every major city I have visited in the USA. It’s part of my “when in Rome…” mantra. It is a wonderful way to be in the moment and connect with rhythms of the city I’m visiting, to get a sense of place. I even took two weeks off three years ago to attend games at six ballparks with my buddy Mike. Before you judge, please note that I also layered in three halls of fame, one Frank Lloyd Wright house and a trip to Gettysburg. And a quick stopover at the ball field that hosts the Little League World Series. Does that make me a middle-aged adolescent unwilling to put away my childish things? I ask you.
Yes, yes I am a Giants season ticket holder, too--but that ‘s just a fun excuse to entertain friends and enjoy going to The City. I am a mature man who acts his age and likes baseball,--honest. My real obsession is the movies…I mean, have you seen “Anne of the Thousand Days?” Richard Burton is at his very best, and Geneveieve Bujold had the performance of a lifetime. …Goodbye, Hollywood, goodbye…