I'm trying to think of the minimum age you would have to be to get any enjoyment out of this post... But instead, let's just say that if the thought of heading to Blockbuster with your family on a Friday night to compete with your siblings over who gets to choose the "kids' movie" doesn't immediately transport you to nostalgic bliss, then go away. Let us have this.
Wasn't it so much fun? The walls and walls of VHS tapes with the bright blue and yellow ticketed cases. The flat brownish-grey carpeting that smelled like how cardboard must taste. The enticing buckets of popcorn and rows of candy and weird "Surprise Boxes". I remember when I grew up -- because being 15 years old is SO grown up -- my idiot boyfriend, John, bought one of those surprise boxes. He just had to know what was inside even though I told him it would be cheap crap. And yes, it was cheap crap --- pure, delightful, wish-fulfilling, cheap crap. I think it was stale candy and a plastic top, but the fact that I remember that moment to this day makes me appreciate that Surprise Box. I guess the Surprise was that -- not the movie or the car ride or what we had to eat -- but the dumb Surprise Box is what I remember from that night out with my idiot boyfriend, John. Thank you Surprise Box, thank you for the Surprise Feelings.
That's not the only memory I have of growing up as Blockbuster enthusiast, and it's definitely not the strangest. When I was 13 years old, my best friend Jessica and I would go to Blockbuster every single weekend. And every single weekend we would rent three horror movies. This was our ritual for a very long time. Halloween, Friday the 13th, Leprechaun, Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Candyman, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, Carrie, Children of the Corn, Child's Play, you get the point ---- I've seen them all. Not just the originals, either. We went so often that we had to get pretty deep into the sequels. Have I seen Leprechaun 4: In Space? Why, yes I have. I'm not proud of it, but we just became obsessed with seeing the entire section of horror movies at the Blockbuster on 1658 President Avenue in Fall River, Massachusetts.
None of that was that weird though, because when you're 13-14 years old in a small town, there really isn't much to do. This is when it gets weird. For some reason, one day I decided to remove the sleeves from the clamshell cases of whichever VHS tapes we had rented from Blockbuster that weekend. On the back of the sleeve, there is a synopsis of the movie followed by a short list of the actors it stars. Taking a black pen, I tried to match the font on the back of the sleeves as closely as possible, and wrote at the end of each one: "and Danny Glover". I put the sleeves back under the plastic and we returned the videos as usual. I did this to every single movie we ever rented, horror or not, from that point on. Jessica and I thought it was hilarious and it became kind of a tradition. The lovely folks at Blockbuster never said anything, and when we'd go back each weekend, we would check to see if they had replaced the sleeves of the movies I'd "improved". Nope, still there. In that particular Blockbuster, at 1658 President Avenue, in the little city of Fall River, in the great state of Massachusetts, Danny Glover was the biggest movie star on earth.