Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Die Hard

Die Hard
first seen in Bayside, Queens, NY
summer 1988

I was a day camp counselor in the summer of 1988, working at a YMCA in northern Queens. I spent many prior summers as a lowly camper at various day camps and a couple as a counselor-in-training. Being a CIT was great - you had a degree of authority over campers which you could use to bully them into submission, yet at the same time you didn't have the more "grown-up" responsibilities of a full-fledged counselor.

My older sister was a camp counselor for a bunch of years and the kids all loved her. I, on the other hand, was a perpetual troublemaker as a camper, which was probably embarrassing for her until she grew out of day camps. Still, I was eager to ascend the ranks, as it were, if for no other reason than to finally be the boss for a change.

The YMCA camp I went to that summer was a bit unusual in that it had two locations used simultaneously: one in Bayside and one in Flushing. We'd go to the latter for swimming lessons since they had a bigger facility. It was a short bus ride away. The rest of the time we were in Bayside, right across the street from a park.

I wish I could remember more about the other counselors. I have this vague, generalized impression of them, along with a few memories here and there. For example, I remember one of them, a girl, was a huge Cure fan. The first time I heard "Just Like Heaven" was from her singing it. Regardless, I know I must have been friendly enough with them to go to the movie theater at the mall down the street after camp one day, to see this new action flick starring the guy from TV's Moonlighting.

To this day I can rarely recall having a better time at the movies. Aside from the movie itself, which was (and remains) breathtakingly awesome, I loved watching it with my friends. This was one of, if not the first, "grown-up" movie I saw as part of a group. I'm pretty sure I was concerned about whether or not I'd be able to get into an R-rated film, but I always looked older than I actually was as a teenager, and besides, no one at the box office checked our IDs. We were all so into the film, right until the end, when McClane finally meets Al face-to-face on the street after beating the bad guys, and then one more bad guy pops up out of nowhere and Al shoots him. We were all yelling "Al! Al! Al! Al!"

These days I mostly go to the movies by myself. Whenever I do go with friends, it's usually a small group, one or two other people. With the right movie, though, and with a bunch of your pals around you... there's nothing quite like that feeling.

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