Saturday, 31 January 2015

From the Mixed Up Files of...

While catching up and reading some more old paperbacks from our basement, I realized it wasn't fair to make fun of others without first making fun of myself. We all start somewhere as authors, artists, creators, makers...and yeah, that early stuff is pretty cringeworthy!

My childhood is best described as a little weird and lonely. It's hard to believe, but there was a time when nerds and geeks were not cool. We didn't see a lot of movies and we didn't have a VCR. My parents also didn't realize they were raising two nerds, and dutifully tried to steer us away from anything geeky. Gushing about Star Wars was not a path to popularity at all!

Life got a little better when pay-TV arrived in 1989 after my parents gave up fixing the giant old CRT. Suddenly we had more than ten channels and it opened up a world of entertainment and ideas. Today we take 24/7 for granted, but CNN was downright amazing. Naturally my brother and I gravitated to MuchMusic, a Canadian sort of MTV, and loved every second of it.

The summer of 1991 had a lot of great movies and I really, really, really wanted to see Terminator 2. There were too many obstacles for a young person to overcome though - getting a ride to a movie theatre (half an hour away), finding an adult to take me (not happening) and scraping up the change to see it (nope!). It was also R-Rated, as hard as that is to believe. So what do you do when you can't see a movie you really, really, really want to see? You make up your own version, and years later breathe a sigh of relief that the Internet wasn't around!

Being a nerd, I began by meticulously researching T2 as much as possible. I snipped out pictures from magazines, read the newspaper and paid great attention whenever You Could Be Mine came on MuchMusic. Then I got a brand new red spiral notebook and began writing away with great gusto, all in pencil.

Since I had no idea at all how the story progressed and had no idea what was in the first movie, I began at the part when the Terminator finds an alien dog. He takes it back to his place to show his three roommates, one of which is his younger brother named Joe. Oh wait, you didn't know all that happened? Well, it did, let me tell you!

My pencil galloped across the pages like a wild mustang, kicking up bad dialog, stomping on linear narrative and making awful metaphors. The book, which I fantasized about publishing, eventually spiraled into four notebooks. It was hard to get past a few pages at a time - somewhere along the way it careened into a crossover with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Blessed are the folks who don't know they are writing fan fiction.

(You may want to take a quick bathroom break right now, just in case)

The Terminator, oh so imaginatively named Arnold (every cyborg assassin needs a cover, I guess) shared his, oh man, I can barely type this, secret mountain hideout with his roommates and, ha, hahaha, they spend their days riding and fixing motorcycles and visiting their friend down the road. He's a doctor named Felix with a psychic horse named Oberon.

(Remember, you already got your bathroom break warning)

So one day, one day Oberon (snortle!) gets this prediction that something bad is going to happen to Sarah Connor and her son. Arnold hops on his bike and travels to the big city. I made up the city name, along with a whole bunch of other things, like how Arnold and Sarah used to be romantically involved (don't worry, the Terminator is not John's dad!). Thanks to the my careful study of You Could Be Mine, I was able to fill in the rest of the story, although quite laughably.

Now, maybe you're wondering what the other three notebooks were filled with once the T-1000 had been vanquished. Well, to be honest, I skimmed through the notebooks because continuing would mean needing a few puffs from my husband's asthma inhaler. With so many male characters, something was girlfriends! Each male character got a love interest that developed awkwardly while Arnold and Joe visited...their mother. The awful dialog sadly proves that I was not the sophisticated teenager I presumed to be. Eventually boredom set in and the lovey dovey parts gave way to an intricate history of one of the roommates, an Australian with a mean streak. He was mean because he had a really tough upbringing, right from the start, when he was born in the back of a truck in the outback (I can see why it's taken me a while to write this blog post...oof!).

Who was this unrecognizable younger self that wrote all this...verbiage? There were no real themes, just little bits of daily life, punch lines from Saturday Night Live and lots and lots of...huh. Where did all these ideas come from, plus the energy to write so much? The last notebook is dated November 28, 1992. Maybe I grew up a little bit in a year, maybe I got to the end of the notebook and realized that was a good time to stop this...saga. The last notebook just stops with the funeral of Felix's half brother, Jack.

And, here's the punch line - I still haven't seen Terminator 2. Or 3 or 4 or the TV series. Maybe it's because I always liked my version better :-). My husband groaned and pointed to the paper shredder in the corner of his man cave when I tried to regale him with these ridiculous scenarios. Naw, these notebooks don't deserve that fate...yet!

* Years later in the 90s, at a comic show, I was thrilled to find an Ewok action figure.