It is difficult for me to recall just when I fell in love with the movies. I don’t even know if I would have fallen in love with them if they were not my older brother’s first love.
When I was very young, my brother took me to the Washington Monument and we walked into something big, not the monument itself, but something bigger. I was about five years old and everything was big to me then. I didn’t even understand the magnitude of the event or what all of the commotion was about, but suddenly there was this beautiful woman who was surrounded by throngs of people. Men with cameras were shouting, “Liz!” “Liz!” as their cameras clicked and flashed. This beautiful woman spotted my brother and me. She wanted to know how old we were and who brought us to the monument. She found it incredulous that my brother, still in elementary school, had brought me there. I also remember her being very kind to me and lifting me up to a window so that I could look out.
Years later, I remembered that day and I remembered that woman. That memory started to fade and it lodged itself in the nether reaches of my mind where it soon became a question of whether or not it did happen or it did not happen. I thought from time to time to ask my brother about it, but I feared that he would laugh at my imaginings, so I kept my thoughts to myself.
Years later, I was having dinner with my brother, who like me, was an enthusiast of classic Hollywood movies and movie stars. We were talking about Elizabeth Taylor, whom for some reason, I had a particular fondness. (I remember falling out with a girlfriend who ranted about how horrible Elizabeth Taylor was for breaking up the happy marriage of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. I defended Taylor fiercely.) While my brother and I were dining and talking, he asked me if I remembered the time that I met Elizabeth Taylor at the Washington Monument. I can’t describe my elation! I was ecstatic to realize that my far off dream was actually a reality. I told him that I had remembered it all of my life, though there were times when I doubted that memory.
Memory affects all of the emotions. I remember the excitement that surrounded me that day at the Washington Monument, the sounds, the sights, and the kindness of a beautiful stranger with an incredibly soft voice. Everyone was enamored by Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes and I take nothing away from what was so evidently true; however, as child, it was the sound of her voice that enchanted me. It was as soft and as velvet, and it was of more affect to my five-year-self than her famous eyes.
I often ask myself, if it was that event which made me a life-long, unrepentant cinephile? I don’t know, but what I do know is that, that thing that I have going on with the movies is one which adds meaning, thoughtfulness, compassion, joy and laughter to my life.
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