When I was in 4th grade, my world consisted of two movies: Grease and Dirty Dancing. I was convinced that my soon-to-be high school experience would resemble Grease in at least its musical numbers (sadly, this was not so), and I was convinced that my soon-to-be love life would resemble Dirty Dancing in that I would meet my soulmate on a family roadtrip to a mountain resort. Sadly, this too was not so, though I can live with my fate of instead marrying another kind of soulmate.
Nevertheless in 4th grade, the stars of these two movies were it. It was John Travolta and Patrick Swayze, mano y mano, in my table-group debates with girlfriends about the strengths of each man ... like we even knew what a real man was back then at 9 years old. (Tom Cruise playing "Maverick" from Top Gun was always runner-up behind these two "hunks", as we called them. Zack Morris, who was a "boy" compared to these "men", we'd retort, was a distant third.) I loved me some Travolta, but was always on Team Swayze, without a doubt. I would recall to my table-group friends, while some dug into their snack bags and nibbled on pretzels during break time, that Patrick Swayze was a legend in his own right ... a modern-day Rudolph Valentino, if you will.
"Do you remember the scene from Dirty Dancing where he finally broke down in his room with Baby and admitted that he envied how strong she was?" I would ask, and they would nod, pretzel crumbs sprinkled down the fronts of their shirts. "That's a real man," I'd say, pointing at them, assured in my conviction. His chiseled features. His smile. His endearing dance moves, even when he was forced to do the merengue. For much of my young life, I remember using Patrick Swayze as a marker for what I wanted in a man, and it wasn't just because of his roll in Dirty Dancing (although it was my favorite). Roadhouse, Ghost, Point Break, heck -- even Too Wong Foo -- I grew up with Patrick, and therefore it saddens me to hear, as I read the news tonight, that he's died at the young age of 57.
It's just another day when famous people in your parents' or grandparents' generations pass on, inevitable of their old age. It's quite another when someone you've grown up with, and even heralded in elementary school, dies. I can't believe he's gone. As I listen to his recording of "She's like the Wind" on repeat, I can't help but think it's like the passing of an ideal, yet I suppose such is the way of life. I have no words.
Writer, wife, and mom to two baby girls. As of 2013 I'm no longer brunette (blond ambition!) nor on a budget. I love shoes, wine, Palm Springs, and Barry Gibb. As always, I'm still looking for my lost shaker of salt.
Email me at brunetteonabudget [at] gmail [dot] com.