My Favorite Movie

My apologies to Kristy for this, I know she is not a fan…

In my previous post I mentioned an example of my night-owl-hood in my childhood habit of staying up until all hours on the weekend watching musicals.  This reminded me of a yearly vigil I had yet to keep, and which I will not have the opportunity to take care of after Thursday.

I have watched The Sound of Music once per year, minimum, since I was about 6 years old.  I stopped counting the number of times I’d seen the movie sometime in high school.  At that time it was 82. If I were a little more Sheldon Cooper-esque, I wouldn’t have stopped counting.  And I wouldn’t feel quite so ashamed about the size of that number.  Or of the fact that I can recite every word, name all the supporting nuns (my favorite is Sister Sophia–played by Marni Nixon), and point out the scene in which the real Maria von Trapp walks through the background along with two of her daughters.

At this point, I get that it’s sappy, schmalzy and utterly saccharine in the eyes of most of the universe.  I honestly wasn’t too aware of this until I moved to Virginia and encountered the ridicule of a “friend” in high school who liked to mock me and use this as evidence of my banal and parochial musical tastes (which, in turn, evidenced how parochial I was in general).  He was a narrow minded douche, but I was forced to acknowledge that this movie is not deep or sophisticated.

I’ve stopped trying to convince people that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I have totally accepted that my best friend will never, ever like this movie (but she doesn’t give me shit about it though, for which I’m eternally grateful).  And, until this particular post, I’ve definitely been keeping it on the D.L. with new friends and colleagues.

But that doesn’t mean I can let it go.

The bloody thing is completely entwined in my life.  It was the impetus for many a learning experience: European geography ( “Daddy, where’s Vienna?”), Catholicism (although, for the longest time I assumed all nuns were nice), WWII, the division of Germany, communism (Dad’s lectures go on for a while and branch out quite a bit), submarines, the Austria-Hungarian Empire, WWI (“Daddy, how can Austria have a navy if they aren’t by an ocean?”) telegrams (which I thought were the single dumbest idea in the world and yet I really hoped I would get one someday–still haven’t)….  I spent a good decade measuring my age against the ages of von Trapp kids.  Turning 13 was awesome because Lousia was my favorite of the kids.  Turning 17 was honestly daunting because I was completely without a point of reference, except Rolf, and really, who want’s a Nazi as guidepost?  Not me.  And, God help me, I really, really, really want my own puppet show.

But the biggest connection came in 6th grade. My English teacher, who was truly a kindred spirit, initially connected with me because I’d checked out The Story of the Trapp Family Singers from the school library (the last person to have checked that one out was my teacher when she was back in junior high).  She, it turns, out, had always loved the movie herself.  That led to me being willing to reveal to her that I liked to write.  She was the first adult I ever talked to about writing, and she read, edited and encouraged in a way that (unfortunately for all of you) led me to believe it was something I could do and do well (well actually, all you have to worry about is the part where I think I can write.  The “well” part was adequately obliterated by the College of William and Mary).

So, you see, at some point, this became more than a family-friendly musical of extreme length–it became a focal point for a lot of memories, and the starting point for a lot of education.  When I put in this movie as a comfort flick once a year, I get to wallow not just in nostalgia for the movie itself, but in the nostalgia of late nights in the living room of my old home as an elementary school kid up way past bed time, of spreading out maps on the floor in front of the TV with Dad point out borders, of sitting in Mrs. D’s classroom after school reeling at the wonder of a grown up taking me seriously.  I can see that it’s sappy, but, unlike the douche who mocked my tastes, I also see more than just what plays on the screen.

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