I’ve been watching the Law and Order: SVU marathon on the USA network for… ummmm… a little under 24 hours, minus the 12 hours I spent sleeping and the couple of hours that other TV fare has been broadcast. Like, you know, The 4400, which I follow because I have nothing better to do.
But tonight, after the SVU marathon and the latest episode of The 4400, The Karate Kid II was on USA. I couldn’t watch it. I tried. I tried really hard.
But all I could remember was that horrible incident in my youth, when I’d scoured teen mags and gabbed with friends for weeks on end about the sequel to the original Karate Kid. And I remembered (I mean, it’s not like I could really forget.) that my “best” friend called me the night of the film’s initial release at the local theater. We’d planned this for weeks, because her mom was pretty cool and mine… wasn’t… so we knew her mom would take us. It was a given!
So it was that the “best” friend called me early that afternoon to let me know that she was on her way to the theater — with someone else — who “… is so excited and knows it will be the best movie ever, because, you know, Ralph Macchio is soooo cute. And since you sort of take away attention, we thought we’d just go by ourselves. Promise to call and tell you about it first thing tomorrow! Bye!”
Somehow, she managed to work in the fact that she was going not with a group of friends, but rather with the one girl whom she’d completely and totally shunned in the last several months. (In retrospect, I can’t remember the reasoning for said shunning. That’s the way it goes in junior high, though. What I should also add is that I was tiny, intelligent and pragmatic. To translate, this means I was incredibly uncool.)
Yeah, that was the most difficult, horrendous, painful teen experience I had. I took the initial phone call in my bathroom as I primped and preened for THE PHONE CALL, which I knew was coming. I mean, I’d been the original second-best friend to the seventh-grade Queen for a while, and her princess had been on the outs for a long damn time. The Queen had spent the entire summer calling toll-free numbers pretending to be the Princess, telling the telemarketers about the latter’s interest in the Army and Fingerhut sales and anything else she could find in the yellow pages or cheap magazines.
In retrospect, I don’t know how the Queen and Princess “made up,”; I just know that the aftermath killed a small part of me. My mother found me sitting on the toilet, fully clothed, crying my eyes out over the fact that I was going to miss the premiere of said movie. She damn near broke down herself and promised to take me to the movies, until I bellowed, “But I want to go with A__ and M_______! I don’t want to go with you!” And then I dissolved into tears once again and cried my way to my room. Where, incidentally, I didn’t slam my door, as such was not allowed in my home. And yet my parents were smart enough to let me pour pounds of salt for a few days alone in my room.
But my parents did, in fact, take me to see The Karate Kid II within a few days — with my two elementary-aged sisters. During the day. At the matinee, mind you. I was ruined. And I mooned over it the whole time. But I had a puss on my face the whole time.
Still, my mother went immediately to the local music store and picked up the first run of a book of sheet music full of contemporary hits — including Peter Cetera’s The Glory of Love — the theme from Karate Kid II. I had studied piano for more than four years at that point, but I’d never played “popular music” — everything I’d played or memorized was a simplified version of a complex piece of piano music. Besides, my private piano instructor refused to help me with such “contemporary” pieces. (Dumbass. I spent the next six years playing in dixieland and jazz bands. A little experience with non-classical pieces wouldn’t have killed me.) Glory of Love wasn’t the first song I learned (I’d had a thing for The Pink Panther Theme for a long time, and that arrangement was way easier.), but I spent a couple of weeks playing it to death until I could play the whole damn thing from memory.
There’s no grand statement here. There was never any moment where I one-upped either the Queen or the princess whom I’d temporarily replaced in the popularity heirarchy. (Okay, well, yeah, there was. But that was after high school, and I so thoroughly kicked their asses that it wasn’t even funny — except that they still held on to that false pride, and I was polite and gracious. I went to at least one of each of their weddings (because they’ve both married twice, to my knowledge). Plus, I seduced both of their long-term boyfriends (when the relationships were over!) and slept with one of them, although I never told the Queen or the Princess. Now that’s what I call sneaky revenge. (Hrumph. It’s not like I slept with them while either couple was together. Guhh!)
But mostly, when I see The Karate Kid II, all I can think of is that classic quote: HONK!
For man with no forgiveness in heart, life worse punishment than death. — Mr. Miyagi