Birth order can be a bitch.
By the time both of my siblings were out of the house, I had six grades to go. Suffice to say we didn’t play a lot of Twister.
What we did do was cinema.
Despite our living 25 miles from the nearest theater, my parents always took me to the movies. The 1970s was a golden age for the silver screen. I still remember how the ticket line for Jaws snaked outside the door and around the building.
There was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Jack Nicholson, The Conversation with Gene Hackman. Star Wars. An up-and-coming Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver.
Exposure to great filmmaking as a teen made me appreciate it as an adult.
And while I still enjoy a thriller or romantic comedy, I gravitate toward the grit. The more real, the better.
That’s why Born on the Fourth of July, which I came across again the other day on TV, is so riveting.
It tells the story of Ron Kovic, a upstate New Yorker who left for the Vietnam War and came back less than whole.
I get a lump in my throat every time I watch the scene of his return to Massapequa in 1969. After getting pats on the back from friends and neighbors, Kovic heads inside.
The camera cuts to father and son, who are alone for the first time, left to confront the elephant in the room, Ron’s paralysis.
Dad fills the silence.
“I fixed up the bathroom for you, Ronnie. I put a wider doorway in. I built a shower for you, too. You can get in here pretty easy.”
“Oh, and I put some handles on the toilet for you.”
Kovic stares at his high school wrestling picture. His reflection in the glass slowly comes into focus.
Overcome with emotion, the father bends down and hugs his boy.
“It’s good to have you. It’s good to have you, Ronnie.”
See you at the movies.