Returning a Video, Part 1

video returnHurry… must write column… think! think! Get ideas! Writewritewrite! Whoosh! All over. Drink more, go to bed. Maybe I’m in a rut.

Staying out till dawn with the Jet Pack and the Rat Set, partying and frivoling way more than I want to, but I’ll do anything when I’m chasing down a hot lead or getting ready to maul a starlet with the sharpness of my razor wit, or plying my informants with cheap liquoo-ers until they give me the deep dish on the little hotbed of local music folks around here call “The Big Sweaty.” I think it was Robbie Robertson of the Band who said, “it’s a hard life”, and it has been that way ever since he said it.

What the hell, so, let’s talk about movies this week instead. In fact, let’s analyze my video rental receipt, which was presented to me recently rather unceremoniously by one of my best friends at the local mega-chain, Gil, when he was in the process of pointing out to me that I had had the movie “Gung Ho” out for more than sixty-two weeks and owed more than two hundred dollars on it.

I, of course, was incredulous, and threw a big fit, declaring my innocence and my never-wavering longtime allegiance to Videorama (which, by the way, all my friends know I constantly bad-mouth everywhere in favor of the much artier and more interesting Down Under Video in Wellfleet, which I never actually go to because it’s ten minutes out of the way.)

I left in a complete huff, and then of course in no time (three days) I started to piece together what had happened: I had mistakenly returned our vacation videos from when we went to the ranch instead of the “Gung Ho” video, which obligingly enough, turned up in the case for the vacation videos as soon as I checked. So, mystery solved!

Actually, I remembered “Gung Ho”, too – it was a Ron Howard movie about the car industry with Michael Keaton, and I remembered particularly hating it -like, really, really, really HATING it. And I usually like Ron Howard’s stuff -though there’s always been something about Michael Keaton I don’t (could be his unbearably unctuous attitude, or just his big old face with the big pixie eyebrows, or could just be that I don’t think we should have to live in a world where both he and Tom Hanks are quite this successful. He’s a really good actor though; but still, the hell with him.)

That movie was so bad -not just ha-ha, funny/bad, or inept, or fun for any reason, but the kind of bad that just makes you really furious with whoever made the damn thing, and you’d just love to press charges somehow, to hurt whoever did that to you. There was no way I could live with myself paying $200 for “Gung Ho” -I’d rather die.

Still, how to proceed? After all, we’re talking about my video store here, and it’s winter -not that my video store isn’t very precious to me all the time, but in the winter, it’s really a sort of sanctuary. It’s amazing how long you can spend in there, hours and hours just strolling through the aisles, trying not to end up showing up on date night with two Tom Berenson movies.

And of course I know everyone in there (some rather intimately), most by name, and they all know me; they’ve become my friends (sort of), and I treasure the relationships we have together: me being late returning movies, them trying to get me the hell out of there at closing time… I would never want to jeopardize the happy times we’ve shared, and the luminously desirable Mrs. Kelp is delighted I finally have somewhere else to go. So, this is not a decision I take lightly. But, for “Gung Ho”? -I don’t think so.

I donned my fatigues and combat gear, loaded the Olds with trunks of high-tech American weaponry, and set off for Videorama, confidant that once I fixed Gil with my steely gaze and threw myself at his mercy, begging on my knees in abject, tear-stained misery, that he would see that this was one $200 he would never receive.

Then, suddenly, [to be continued.]

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