Sunday, June 20, 2004

Same Day (Part I)

City Slickers
Y'know, I love Billy Crystal. He's always been one of my favorite comedians. He's mutually accredited as one of the best hosts in Academy Awards Show history, and his brief, but eventful one-season stint as a regular on Saturday Night Live ('84-85 season) gave us one of the 80s most popular catch phrases. "You Look Mahvelous" was a hilarious take on 50s actor Fernando Lamas, although I'm sure that fact was under-appreciated by a lot of fans too young to remember him.

Crystal went on from SNL to devote his career to movie roles, most of which have been pretty forgettable. However "When Harry Met Sally" (1989) was a great movie, and his following film, "City Slickers" (1991) is one of my all-time favorites.

The screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (two longtime collaborators of Crystal) combined with the primary cast: Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby, just hit on so many levels for me. There is so much I identify with in that movie; so many favorite moments.

While driving down to Chattanooga yesterday, I was thinking about my daughter's journey to adulthood and one scene in particular came to mind.

Phil (Daniel Stern), Mitch (Billy Crystal), and Ed (Bruno Kirby) are driving the herd, following the untimely death and impromptu funeral service of trail boss Curly (Jack Palance). Unlike Mitch, Ed doesn't want to talk about death anymore, but rather celebrate the beauty of the nature surrounding him and the joy of being with his two best friends, driving this herd of cattle across the Colorado countryside. "This is one of the best days of my life," he exclaims...

Phil: Alright, What is the best day of your life?
Mitch: You mean ever?
Phil: Yeah, best day ever in your whole life. And you can't do "when your kids were born," that's too easy.
Mitch: Okay, I got one. Seven years old and my dad takes me to Yankee Stadium. My first game. We go in through this long dark tunnel underneath the stands, and I'm holding his hand, and we come up out of the tunnel, and into the light. It was huge. How green the grass was, the brown dirt, and that great green copper roof, remember? And we had a black and white TV then, so this was the first game I ever saw in color. I sat next there the whole game next to my dad. He taught me how to keep score...Mickey hit one out.
Phil: Good day...
Mitch: And I still have the program.

Phil: Alright...what was the worst day you ever had?

Mitch: Worst day...Couple years ago, Barbara finds a lump.
Ed: What? JESUS!
Mitch: Yeah, scared the shit outta me.
Ed: You never said anything...
Mitch: Yeah, yeah y'know it turned out to be nothing, but that whole day was...*shakes his head*
Ed: Yeah, but that was a good day
Mitch: HOW?
Ed: Because it turned out to be nothing...
Mitch: Yeah, but that whole day until then...was horrible.
Ed: Yeah, but it came out good. You're a real, "the glass is half empty" kind of guy, y'know that? I dunno how Barbara can stand it.
Mitch: Yeah...

Phil: Alright, I got one. My best day...
Ed: This isn't that one about Arlene and that loose step, is it?
Phil:, my wedding day.
Mitch: What?
Phil: Yeah. Remember that day? Outdoor wedding; Arlene looked great...those water pills really worked! You guys were all smilin' at me; And my the me a little wink. Y'know? I mean, he's not the warmest of men, but he winked. Y'know I was the first one of us to get married and have a real job, and I remember thinking, "I'm grown up." Y'know, "I, I'm not a goofball anymore...I made it." I felt like a man. Best day of my life.

Ed: What was your worst day?

Phil: Every day since is a tie...
(Mitch & Ed: big laughs)

Mitch: Alright Ed, your best day, what was it, twins in a trapeeze, what?
Ed: No, I don't wanna play.
Mitch: C'mon, we did it...
Ed: I don't feel like it.
Mitch: Uh, okay...
(long pause)
Ed: I'm 14 and my mother and father are fighting again...y'know, because she caught him again. Caught him?...This time the girl drove by the house to pick him up. And I finally realized, he wasn't just cheating on my mother, he was cheating us. So I told him, I said, "You're bad to us. We don't love you. I'll take care of my mother and my sister. We don't need you any more." And he made like he was gonna hit me, but I didn't budge. And he turned around and he left. He never bothered us again. Well I took care of my mother and my sister from that day on. That's my best day.

Phil: W-What was you're worst day?

Ed: Same day.

That's way I feel about my personal best day/worst day scenario, except the worst day part came first. This is both as hard and as happy a story for me to talk about as any experience in my lifetime. It was a defining experience. It was a true miracle.

Next: Miracle on Nipomo Avenue
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