You Cannot Go Back… And Shouldn’t

I have, of course, a fascination with the past, and have since I was a wee anklebiter. As I lumber through middle age, though, I find that – despite not having had a particularly enjoyable childhood, all in all – I occasionally become nostalgic for some strange thing from my misspent youth. I also find that, almost without fail, my memories of things from the past are better than the things actually are, or were.

In a way, I’m fortunate that I now live several hundred miles from any of the tiny towns I grew up in, as this renders the occasional nostalgic urge relatively difficult to give in to. Are the hamburgers at the little place down by the highway really as good as I remember? Probably not, but I’m unlikely to find out any time soon, assuming the place is still around. Was the 1930s library really as awesome as I remember? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Some things I can never revisit – was Apple Slice really the best soft drink ever? alas, it’s been discontinued for decades – and I’m slowly coming to realize that most of what I can revisit, I shouldn’t.

Take, as one oddly random example, the movie Spies Like Us.

I saw it once when I was a kid, sometime shortly after it came out, which was 1985. Then, I never saw it again… until this weekend.

Somehow, in the twenty-something years that had passed, I’d somehow formed the idea that I liked the movie. Not just liked it, but loved it – it was a treasured memory from my childhood, that kind of thing. I didn’t actually remember what the movie was about, and truth be told I didn’t actually remember any of the movie itself. But somehow, I was nostalgic for it… so I watched it.

It’s not a horrible movie. Let’s get that out of the way. And it has some pretty hilarious moments, here and there.

But I can’t imagine that, as a teenager, I came anywhere close to understanding the plot. That being the case, I’m honestly not sure what the younger me liked about it, that produced the fond memories I’ve held for two decades. As a forgettable 1980s action comedy, it’s… pretty forgettable. Chevy Chase, the leading man, plays pretty much the same character he played in all his movies of that era; it could just as easily have been named Fletch Goes to War, and honestly would have benefitted had it been written by Gregory McDonald. The special effects are not very special; all the money seems to have been spent on the chase scenes.

So what was it that made me fondly misremember Spies Like Us for more than twenty years? I don’t really know. Maybe all the computer equipment, which seems to ridiculously vintage today – tape drives, whoo! – was amazingly high-tech back then, and possibly amazing to a tech-infatuated teenager? Maybe I was oddly fascinated with the idea of an abandoned movie theater as a secret base? Maybe I just really liked Dan Ackroyd?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that by revisiting a fond, if blurry, memory from childhood, I’ve (inadvertently) soured one of the few vaguely happy memories from my formative years.

It’s like they say, you really cannot go back. And, as I’m now going to say, you shouldn’t even try, for damned good reason.

Published in: General | on December 20th, 2010| No Comments »

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