START – the beginning, the origin, a twitch, to flinch, to cause, to kick off, to recoil, the foundation, initiation, dawning, source, inception.
Hey there, sixties kids…remember Deadly Earnest?
The cool kids were allowed to stay up late to watch horror movies while the rest of us could only smoulder with envy at school the next day.
And then, and then, one night you get lucky and you’re allowed out of the car when your parents go to a party (usually you have to sleep in the car parked down the street – oh, Maddie McCann, where are you?) and you play with the other kids and then, and then, glory be, it’s really late and there’s a television in another room (that’s extra to the television in the lounge room where the parents are drinking spewmante and beer in long necks) and you dash into the thick of the party to get permission to watch Deadly Ernest and you get a yes, and you barely believe your ears, and back you bolt – before minds can be changed – to that second television set, (imagine, two televisions – they must be rich), and then Deadly Ernest fills the screen in a fog of static, and you’re living beyond what you could possibly imagine, and you know you’ll be working this into every conversation you have from now until forever. Deadly Ernest? Of course, you’ll say, you know Deadly Ernest. And no, you weren’t scared, you’ll say with bravado, but no one will believe you.
Because everyone knows you’re scared by The Three Stooges and Batman and your nights are filled with chaotic dreams, waking you with a start.
And it will take a long time before you work up the gall to see anything else scary until you’ve grown up and left home and you imagine you might be up for that Sissy Spacek movie, Carrie. And when the end comes and you’ve begun to quietly congratulate yourself for your cavalier attitude to horror, there is the hand. Clutching at you, out of the grave. And it takes your friends two blocks of Collins Street to get you back to normal. And you know your mother could have got you out of that shrieking hysteria in no time with a quick slap across the face (her answer to any out-of-control behaviour).
Your fragile response to anything the tiniest bit frightening means you don’t even have to see horror films to get a start. The adventure genre can do it for you, given the right amount of slitheriness.
Indiana Jones. Snakes drop on a woman’s shoulders and you instinctively get out of the way and it’s only after you’ve come out from under your cinema seat, you realise you’ve sprained your ankle.
And – another STARTling time – you’re dating again. He chooses the movies and buys the popcorn. It’s early on in a relationship whose ending – when it comes, abruptly and unannounced – cuts you to the quick, but as you take your seat in the darkened cinema, you’re yet to know of the pain ahead.
Seven with Brad and Gwyneth. Brad before he became Brad and Gwyneth before we knew about the steam in her vagina.
Something big and sudden and terrifying happens on the screen. You yell and jump and a trajectory of popcorn arcs through the air and rains down in slow-motion and you are as surprised as anyone else because you’d forgotten about the bucket in your hand.
Do you have a START story? Come and tell it. Come and listen to others.
Big Word of Mouth is on this Tuesday – that’s October 9 – doors at 5.30pm – come for dinner, a glass of wine, a catch-up in the bar beforehand – show starts at 7.