Indiana Jones and Me

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I realized somewhere around May 17 or 18, when I discovered that our local theater was going to have a midnight show of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Wednesday, May 21 (actually May 22 at 12:01 a.m.), that I am a true fan.

Of Indy.

I became obsessed. I needed tickets. I needed them immediately.

Let me explain. I hate spoilers. And these days, the culture is full of spoilers. Everyone wants to be the first to tell me the secrets of the movie or the current hot show.

Even when you try to avoid spoilers, they attack you. For example, when the first major character died on Lost, I wasn’t able to watch the episode in real time. So I planned to wait until the next evening to watch with my husband. I avoided all coverage of Lost. I averted my eyes, shushed my friends, didn’t look at headlines.

Then–then!–I was channel surfing, and I saw a Lost actress on Entertainment Tonight. That wouldn’t have been enough to tip me, except the stupid interviewer said as my remote landed me on the channel, “When you found out your character was going to be the one killed off, how did you feel?”

I don’t know how she felt, but I felt cheated.

I did not want this to happen to me and Indy. Indy and I have a special relationship.

You see, I also realized around May 17 or 18, that I could remember where I was when I saw all three previous Indiana Jones movies. If you asked me where I was and who I was with when I saw, say, Spider Man, I could make an educated guess, but I couldn’t tell you for sure.

But the Indy movies…yep. I can remember all of them.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is the easiest. I was in a multiplex (in those days, called simply a cinema with three [or was it four?] theaters) in Madison, Wisconsin, with my then-husband Randy and my friend Mindy. We decided to see Raiders on a limited budget because of a review.

A review, I must note, that had no spoilers at all.

Mike Wilmington who, these days, writes about movies for the Chicago Tribune and other famous publications, used to write for an influential local Madison newspaper called Isthmus. Everyone talked about what Wilmington said. He was spot-on. He was brilliant.

And he saw a little movie called Raiders of the Lost Ark. I haven’t looked up the review, but what I remember of it (after 27 years) was this…I can’t tell you anything about this movie, except that it was the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in years. To tell you anything else would spoil the film for you. Go. Set down this paper and go now.

So we went. My friend Mindy was visiting from Minneapolis. We went to the theater, bought the last three tickets, and couldn’t even sit together. Randy (my ex) let me sit next to Mindy who was talking as that boulder headed for Indy. She stopped making sound, but she never closed her mouth. She gaped at the movie for the full two hours.

Just like I did.

I loved that movie. I still love that movie. I watch it every single time I stumble over the badly edited version on cable.

The second movie (which I call Indiana Jones and the Temple of Dumb) came out while I was still married to Randy. Opening night, we headed to the Orpheum Theater in Madison’s downtown with the kids in fedoras, carrying whips. We sat in a balcony seat and enjoyed the ride, although I do remember how much I hated the loss of Marian. I loved the strong heroine of the first movie and despised the screaming of the second (hence the nickname for the film). (Of course, I still watch that thing on cable too.)

That disappointment didn’t stop me from seeing the third movie on its opening weekend. I missed the spoilers because I was suffering from food poisoning. By then, I lived in Oregon. Dean Wesley Smith and I had just started Pulphouse with Debra Gray Cook. The two of them dragged my sorry sick butt to the movie. I couldn’t eat popcorn, I couldn’t drink pop, but I could sit and enjoy.

And enjoy I did.

I loved that movie. Not as much as Raiders, but enough.

So much in fact, that I scrambled for those midnight tickets for the Crystal Skull. I was a little disappointed when we arrived at the theater that no one wore a fedora or carried a whip. But I was pleased that the audience ranged in age from about 70 to 8. Half of the audience hadn’t even been born when the last movie was in the theaters. That was cool. (And what cool parents, letting their kids stay up until 3 a.m. on a school night to see a movie!)

I’m not going to give you spoilers. I’m not that kinda girl. But I will say…I liked this sequel the best of all the sequels. Nothing can equal Raiders, of course. But we’ll never be that surprised again by Indy. But it’s still great to see him and experience his truly pulp fiction life.

I missed him. And I’m glad he’s back.