Continuing my theme lately of ‘No good intention goes unpunished’ I have actually managed to find something even more uncomfortable than riding a bicycle. You would not have thought it possible, but it is true.
Lockdown has tended to mean the family splits up. The girls spend too long in their rooms either alone, or just on endless video calls to friends whilst playing Roblox – count yourself lucky if you have never encountered Roblox. It’s a virtual world that looks a bit like Minecraft but where you don’t build things – you buy things. With Robux.
And yes, you guessed it, Robux are purchased with real money.
So I decided to entice the girls downstairs with movies and snacks so that we could all sit in front of the TV together. This is lockdown life so that’s what counts as family activities of an evening. And, oh did it backfire on me.
The girls are ten and twelve. Those of you familiar with my facebook page will know that I relished showing them Jaws. I watched the damn thing in the cinema when I was about eight or nine. I was kinda on my own as well because I went with my next door neighbour and his Dad – so he had someone to cling on to and I had no one at all. A reasonable person would be more cautious with his own children one would think — but it seems not. I even filmed them when Ben Garner’s head pops out of the bottom of the boat.
And I am currently being repaid for that in spades.
The initial selection started in the 1990s but it just seemed easier to move backwards into the seventies and eighties. The next one up was Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – which they liked less than Jaws to be honest, but I started to get cocky. I had a list of classics that I was going to use to connect with my daughters in this lockdown period. We would have common history, a shared knowledge that would provide them a more rounded (better because I picked it) film vocabulary.
Better yet, I could use my superior knowledge of superior film to help them develop and become more rounded individuals. Can you feel the hubris? Can you sense the fall that is inevitably about to occur following this owerweening pride?
I would love to say that I was thinking about themes. I would love to say that I was looking for an symbol of lockdown, of teens in lockdown. I would love to say that my fantastic knowledge of film guided me to the next possible film because it is a coming-of-age piece that combines those elements. I had no such conscious thoughts – all I thought was…
Maybe my eldest would benefit from watching…
The Breakfast Club! Of course! Teens in lockdown come to terms with their identities through an extended and enforced period of isolation. It’s even got a Simple Minds track right up front and a bit of rebellion does you good after all. This would be perfect for the eldest although possibly not both. The youngest still tends to go “Eurrrggghhh” when boys and girls kiss on screen.
But I ain’t as stupid as I look (nearly, but not quite) so I floated the notion with my teen girl expert. My pal Nerys.
Nerys is the person I go to when checking my male privilege and she also kept a diary when she was a teen herself – so not only can she remember what happened she can also remember how she felt – this is invaluable because I was never a teenage girl and my middle-aged brain can’t hardly remember anything these days. I couldn’t really remember the whole film you see but I had a recollection that there was something a bit Me-too-ey in one of those John Hughes films.
As luck would have it she was saving it to watch for this weekend – she would check it out and then report back.
Had I left it at that then I would have been fine. But then, just as Indiana Jones ended and the Ark was being stowed away in a warehouse, we had a quick look at the program guide. There it was!. The Breakfast Club. Brilliant! I’ll just have a quick look to see if I can get a +1 channel and I can record it.
Only I actually had it on whilst I was looking for the +1 channel didn’t I?
And what part of the film was it? As I sat there with my 12 year old daughter sitting next to me? Only this bit.
This is Judd Nelson and he’s an intense individual from another age. This is approaching half an hour into the film and just as the sound comes on his character Bender asks Clare (Molly Ringwald -who ruled the eighties)
“Are you a virgin?”
Oh FFS! I thought. Typical. I’ll just get this done and switch the damn thing off and wait for Nerys’ report on the whole movie.
But I couldn’t find the +1 channel quick enough and I had forgotten just what an asshole Bender is at this point. He is just going to town on Clare.
“Have you ever been felt up? Over the bra, under the blouse…”
Gimme me a break Judd. My 12 year old is sitting right there. And at this point I’m not sure who is the more uncomfortable. My 12 year old daughter (I’m not even looking at her to find out), Clare in the film or me, sat on the couch and desperately trying to find a channel that might not exist.
As I spin through channels on the program guide my wife starts to question what I am doing by asking…
What are you doing?
Which is, quite frankly, just bringing more attention to the fact that I don’t really know what I am doing and I am currently in full panic to be honest. Then Judd chimes in again – not helping the situation at all.
“Over the panties, no bra, blouse unbuttoned…”
Right! That’s enough of that. Thank you so very much.
In the film Emilio Estevez (who we saw last week in The Mighty Ducks) comes along and saves the day but I didn’t even wait for him. I just picked a channel – I saw Guitar Heroes on BBC 4 and thought – ‘you’ll do’.
I then had to sit there and pretend to be really interested in Tom Petty (was never a fan) , Nazareth and some spanish classical guitarist I have never even heard of. Luckily for me my twelve year old daughter and wife took this as a comedy interlude as they commented on 70s hairstyles.
I will still wait on Nerys’ report on The Breakfast Club. I am not ruling out letting my eldest daughter watch it but I do know one thing – she’ll be watching it on her own. She might be mature enough to deal with the issues. I don’t think I am.
Just to cap it off I went to bed and had a dream about my ten year old driving a toy pedal car through some traffic lights and crashing into an idiot that I had to have a fight with. I might survive Covid-19 but not sure I am going to make it through their teens.