If Childhood Had A Name...
The story of how a certain whip cracking archelogist ruled my childhood and beyond.
The name's Doc. DocWhiskey.
And after lurking on this site for quite some time, I decided to add an article of my own to the all ready fantastic nostalgic reads RetroJunk's members offer.
"If Adventure Has a Name, It Must Be.....
That tagline means a lot more to me then any would possibly think.
The tale takes place in a mythical land called Chicago. It always started out the same. The living room was quiet and dark. On top of the staircase lied a "priceless" treasure: a lone oversized clear die resting on top of a lit flashlight giving it a majestic glow. It had been "lost" for centuries. Or so had been thought. Suddenly a rumble is heard, and a young man "crashes" through the ceiling. He slowly gets up and shakes off the fall. He wears a v-neck t-shirt with 2 breast pockets inked on in sharpie, a dusty gray jean jacket, a pair of blue jeans, a brown belt doubling for his trusty bullwhip, and an old gray fedora that belong to his grandfather. He dusted himself off, endured the "deadly" traps that awaited him, fought the evil tribes that attacked, and always ALWAYS got the fortune and glory. In this case a lovely die.
What's his name you ask?
Well, me pretending I'm Indiana Jones.
Yup. That's how I would spend my days as a child in my grandparent's house. You could buy me expensive gadgets and toys, but all I wanted was my fedora and macguffin.
I was an Indyfan.
True blue. Ain't nothin' gonna change that.
But how did I get here? Cue map montage!
It started when I was around 7 years old. I was in to the typical stuff a 7 year old would be into in the early 1990s: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Transformers, Creepy Crawlers, Batman, Spider-man, and the occasional Terminator (though my mother thought it was too violent). Now I'm not going to sit here and say that "Those weren't for me!" or "I really needed something that clicked" because those did. And till this day I still love all of those things to death.
Superheroes were my bit. Being raised by a single mother, money wasn't always plentiful, so comic books were cheap entertainment. It got me to read AND it would help me with my drawing skills. It was a win win with my mom. And it's rare that a mother actually condones her son to read comic books.
My mother was working AND going to college at the time. So I'd see her for maybe 20-30 minutes a day. She'd drop me off at school and she'd be home around 10:30.In which I'd usually be asleep. I was mature for my age but not THAT mature. So I used to spend the days at my grandparents house when my mother was gone. My grandparent's house was like an antique shop. Very elegant looking and everything was damn expensive. So what's a kid to do in a place like this? Well, luckily for me, my grandmother was a huge movie buff. She had cases and cases of VHS's ready for viewing. So everyday she'd pick me up from school. I'd eat and do my homework. And then we'd watch a movie. She'd even let me pick.
One evening I was browsing the various titles for one that suited my interest. One caught my eye simply because of the cover. I picked it up and scanned it.
"What's this?" I said to my grandmother.
"Oh, that's Indiana Jones" she answered, "The one with his father."
Of course she meant the 3rd installment the Last Crusade.
"Is it any good?" I said.
"Oh, yes, Robert loves it." She answered again.
Robert was my older cousin whom I always looked up to. So naturally I wanted to be like him. That lead to me choosing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to be our movie that night.
Best. Choice. Ever.
I don't remember how it went down exactly. I remember I was in the living room by myself and the beginning of the movie played with River Phoenix as Young Indy. I remember stopping the VHS at the point where Young Indy falls into the train car full of snakes. I stopped it because of what I described as "Action overload".
I was blown away. I've never seen action quite like this. Hell, I've never seen entertainment quite like this.
I remember after picking up my jaw and pressing that play button that I enjoyed the movie more then any film I'd ever seen previously. In fact, I waited for my mom to get home that night so I could show her the Young Indy part. I remember her walking through the door and me bombarding her yelling, "Mom! Have you ever heard of Indiana Jones?! You have to see this! You have to see this!"
Thus a fanboy was born.
I went to school the next day questioning my friends whether or not they've heard of the second coming simply known as "Indiana Jones". Some did. Some didn't.
My mind was further blown that night when my grandmother revealed that there were 2 other films carrying the Indiana Jones name of course being "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Temple of Doom". Funny thing, I didn't know what order they went in. I always thought Last Crusade was the 1st film because it started off with him as a kid.
I watched Raiders that night and loved it just as much. I felt like I myself opened up the ark of the covenant, but instead of my face melting off into goop, I instead was presented with the best films in cinema history...in my mind at least.
From then on my interest in Indy grew larger. TMNT, Ghostbusters, Batman, and Star Wars were still great interests of mine but, now, Indy reigned supreme.
The next summer my mother surprised me with a trip to Disney World for a week.
It was there where I witnessed the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Disney's MGM Studios.
And I think that event single handedly put me through puberty in one night.
These guys were doing what I was doing in my living room for months! But it was on a so much grander scale! The fact that they reenacted key scenes from Raiders in a matter of minutes right in front of my eyes was simply breathtaking. But the best part?
Outside the stunt show was a cart with Indiana Jones merchandise.
Now it was a few years since the last movie came out (1989) so merchandise for Indy was, well, dead for my generation. I had nothing to show I was an Indy fan. But Disney stocked Indy merch like it was 1989!
My mom bought me an Indiana Jones action figure, t-shirt, and *drumroll* official fedora. The fedora was the holy grail, the sankara stones, the ark to me! I think I didn't even take it off to shower for the next month or so!
I wore it everywhere. Until some kids in school started to make fun of me for wearing it. Then I stopped. Looking back I should've whipped a drum cymbal at their teeth. But what can I say? I was young and foolish.
After that trip my Indy madness grew. I wore my Raiders shirt at least twice a week. I'd put on "stunt shows" for my Mom and grandparents every now and than. Every time my cousin would come over she'd end up bound and gagged to a pole in my basement while I fought the "bad guys"(they weren't Nazis yet) for at least 15 minutes of well choreographed invisible fighting. It ended with me rescuing her heroically and dashing away from some big "explosion". Poor girl. She thought they were good times though.
One event that sticks out the most for me was the day I watched "Temple of Doom" for the 3535346645 time and I wore my fedora, closed my garage door, and tried to slide under it like Indy. My hat even fell off like in the movie.
Except you know the part where he grabbed it in the nick of time?
Yeah, I didn't. I ended up being rushed to the emergency room with a fractured arm.
Totally worth it.
Plus the doctors and nurses got a kick out of my story.
So this brings me up to about 12 years old. The rumors that were new to me of Indiana Jones 4 didn't seem likely. And the Indy-fad started to fade.
Indy had a 5-year run on me. Not bad, right?
By 13 I was into WWF wrestling, Beavis and Butthead, and back into comic book's anti heroes like Ghost Rider and The Punisher.
The action figure was stowed away in some bin. The T-shirt lay wrinkled at the bottom of a dresser drawer.
And the fedora was hung up in my closet collecting dust.
But I never "grew out" of Indy. I never dare said, "I hate Indiana Jones." or "I can't believe I liked Indy."
No no no. I still loved him. I was just...growing up.
And when we grow up we forget about a lot of things that made our childhood. Indiana Jones, a character that I swore to love forever, was thrown in a forgotten pile on top of TMNT, Ghostbusters, and even Star Wars.
No more adventures.
No more damsels.
No more rolling boulders or face melting Nazis.
Goodbye, Dr. Jones.
Time passed. I was now 16 years old. I got a part time job in a movie/music store. It was then seeing all the customers buying movies that I gained an interest back in film.
I was now earning a paycheck. And I figured I'd make a list of all the DVD movies I wanted and start to build up a collection.
And, boy, did I ever.
I'd buy 6-7 films in a week sometimes.
And slowly but surely my collection was adding up. I went from a small cabinet of DVDs to a rack, then a shelf, then another shelf, and then to a big old book case. It was obvious that I had A LOT of DVDs. Star Wars (original and remastered), the Batman Anthology, All the TMNT films, The Ghostbusters films, Horror films, Classics like Rebel Without a Cause, Casablanca, the Godfather, tons of comic book adaptions, and even WWF DVDS. I had every movie under the sun.
But something was missing.
I was 19 years old now. I remember my mother and I went to a Wal Mart because it had just opened and was close to the house. My mother knew of my movie collection so when we got to the movie aisles we took our time. I was scanning when my mom called my over.
"Look at this." she said.
I glanced in her hand and she was holding the boxset of the 3 Indiana Jones films.
"Do you have all the Indiana Jones movies?" she said. "I know you love Indiana Jones."
It was then when I felt almost guilty. Guilty for abandoning something that made my childhood so good. So much fun. So entertaining.
I grabbed the box from her hand and looked at the back. I read that it contained a 4th disc of extra bonus features and featurettes.
I never seen how they went about making these films. For the 1st time in many years I was smiling about Indiana Jones.
"But I don't have the money right now." I said to my mom.
"Oh god," she said jokingly, "Put it in the cart. I'll buy it for you."
The last time my mother bought me something Indiana Jones related was at the merchandise cart in Disney World when I was 9 years old.
Now, 10 years later, she's buying me a DVD collection of Indy.
It begins again.
But not really.
I put the Indy DVDs in my collection.
Time passes. Days. Weeks. Months. Years.
I'm now 22 years old. I'm a Junior in College. I'm going to the Art Institute to be an Animator.
I get a phone call from my friend at 11 am.
"Dude, did you see it?"
"See what?" I asked.
"The picture of Ford from Indy 4?!"
"Wait. Indiana Jones 4? They're making Indy 4?! Are you kidding?!" I yelled.
I immediantly hung up on the kid and jumped on my laptop. I google searched "Indy 4 Ford photo".
And sure enough.
There it was.
Harrison Ford back as Indiana Jones after 20 years.
My first reaction was "He looks just as good back in 81!"
I was waaaay behind on the Indy news. That night I searched websites, forums, and magazines to soak up every little drop of news on Indiana Jones 4.
I simply couldn't believe it was happening. To be such a huge Indiana Jones fan and often wonder about a 4th installment and then get slapped with that picture so unexpectedly was earth shattering.
That night, after gaining all the up-to-date Indiana Jones knowledge I could, I sat down to eat. I glanced at my DVD shelf and noticed the Indy box set that my mother had bought me 3 years prior.
It was still in the wrapping.
"What a crime" I thought.
I opened the boxset for the 1st time, popped in Raiders of the lost Ark and watched it inventively. This was the 1st time I'd seen it in at least 9 years.
And time made it better.
I was more mature. I had a much better understanding of cinema.
And to sit down and watch RotLA for what almost seemed like the 1st time was refreshing. It was familiar, yet new.
And it was STILL the best damn movie I'd ever seen and STILL a cinematic milestone. The next 2 nights I watched Temple and Last Crusade and all I kept thinking was, "Why didn't I open these DVDs sooner?!"
I was back baby.
I went threw my old closet to track down any Indiana Jones goodies from my childhood I could find. My original action figure was still intact, but alas, it was missing it's accessories. But the important thing was that I had it.
I even dug through drawers and found my old "Raiders" t-shirt. Thank god I bought big shirts back then. It still fits me.
But the one thing that was on my mind was the most important: my fedora that my mother bought me on that fateful Disney vacation.
I searched high and low.
Turns out my mom gave it to the salvation army when I was in high school. I didn't care then.
But boy did it bum me out now. That hat was filled with SO many memories. It was as big a part of me as it was to Indy.
But I'm sure some kid is wearing it proudly and taking it on his adventures. Or some obese butcher named Steve is wiping his ass with it.
Either way it's history. It's out of my hands.
I visited Indiana Jones websites and news daily. I joined forums and posted way too much. I learned so much about the 3 films that my buddies had an Indy movie night with me just to hear my commentary.
I tracked the 4th film like crazy. I was up-to-date on every little piece of juicy news. To say I was "out of the loop" was like saying you liked the Holocaust.
Yeah. It was that serious.
I guess you could say I was a "born again' Indyfan of sorts. I delved into everything I missed such as the video games, comic books, novels, television series, and merchindising.
Indy was my main man once more. His movies reigned supreme in my eyes. I wished it never would've changed.
Months passed. I am 23 years old. The now revealed title, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull" was due to hit theaters in a little under 2 months. I was in Indy frenzy. His popularity was bigger then ever. I had bought novels, games, action figures, t-shirts, and posters in the midst of the summer excitement.
I was graduating college. Indy was on my mind just like when I graduated 1st grade. And 2nd. And 3rd. And 4th.
It was a very happy time in my life. A big theme in my college was that us Animators were the nerdy guys who watched cartoons and movies as "homework." And it was true.
It showed that we're never too young for these things. We never truly outgrow them. They're as much a part of us as our 1st steps, 1st word, or 1st kiss.
We shouldn't be embarrassed.
We shouldn't hide who we are.
A few days before graduation a box came for me in the mail.
Hours before the graduation I put on my gown and fixed my tie. I looked in the mirror and smiled to myself. I put on my cap and headed to the ceremony with the small box I received days earlier in hand.
When the last people received their diplomas and sat down they announced us, the graduating class of 2008. We all threw our caps up in the air as high as we could. The hats landed on the floor scattered throughout the area. Everyone went to grab their hats off the floor, but instead I opened up that small box from underneath my chair.
From in it I pulled out a brown fedora and placed it on my head.
Fit like a glove.
It always fit like a glove.
I never grew out of it.