Yesterday you caught me reminiscing about my first job, as an usher and concessionaire at Plitt’s Woodfield Theaters III & IV. Don’t go looking for that cinema. It’s a Pier 1 Imports now.
It was 42 years ago that I first donned the red polyester sportscoat and clip-on tie that told everybody around me that I am capable of tearing your ticket and leading you to your seat.
About a week into this job, I’m still learning the ropes, the stanchioned velvet ropes, about ushering. I’m just a child in this world, more than two months away from my 17th birthday.
And then it happened.
Surely you remember:
Endless Love is released.
I’m not talking about the Billboard #1 song from the movie by Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie. Or the inexplicable remake, from 2014.
I’m talking about the movie that legendary film critic Roger Ebert described as “a narrative and logical mess” starring America’s sweetheart, Brooke Shields, and some guy. Oher people too, including future stars James Spader, Jami Gertz, and Tom Cruise (NOT Kevin, that handsome rogue usher I told you about yesterday who almost got me killed because of his Tom Cruise-like sexiness).
So what’s the big deal?
Our manager, let’s call him Dan, which might be his real name but you’ll never know, knew that I was only 16 years old and gave a stern command to the theater staff.
“This boy is not allowed anywhere near the theater” playing the R-rated and presumably very adult Endless Love
“He can handle the other screen on his own.”
Playing on the other screen? The poorly-attended but critically-acclaimed Donald Sutherland R-rated WWII spy thriller called Eye of the Needle.
Eye of the Needle was a pretty good movie. A little slow. Much steamier than Endless Love.
I still haven’t seen Endless Love.
During the weeks that Endless Love was playing at our cinema, I’d basically come to work to stand guard over a mostly-empty auditorium, just in case any secret shoppers or higher-ups (I’m talking about you, Mr. District Manager, and it’s not my fault your face melted at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark).
How about you? Any nonsense from early in your career that may (or may not) have taught you an important lesson?