From a time before my doughy-child-mind solidified enough to begin producing cohesive memories, my family would spend summers in Massachusetts, where my dad grew up. We’d squeeze into our red mini-van, my brother and I would fight over who would get to hold our dog Sophie for the first leg of the trip, and off we’d go! Seventeen hours of pure family bonding! How quaint, how pure and simple were the times! How none of that is even remotely true.
Every time someone said they had to pee and, “could we stop at the next rest area?”, there was an outcry and near-mutiny. There were thinly veiled comments about that large soda at McDonald’s, that extra cup of coffee, the size of bladders in general.
We did find times to bond, though. There was always a cheer when we finally got across the godforsaken, enormous state of Pennsylvania, which my brother and I nicknamed “The Swamp of Sadness.” If you were ever a child you undoubtedly saw The Neverending Story, and if your mind was not too doughy to form memories, you’ll remember that The Swamp of Sadness is where Atreyu’s horse commits suicide by laziness.
But regardless of the good times, seventeen hours in a van with a panting dog and a bouncing car-top carrier is tough. Every year around the thirteen-hour mark, my mom and I would both start to cry. Once the trip started to become more commonly known as”The Trail of Tears” than “vacation,” my parents took decisive action.
When I was seven and my brother was ten, they bought a 13-inch-screen television with a VHS VCR so that we would catch movies during the ride. Sure, we had to strap the TV to a red cooler with four tight bungee cords, then secure the red cooler between the driver’s and passenger’s seats, but it was a TV in the car.
And so the Trail of Tears became The Trail of Introducing Keely to Violent Movies at a Young Age. As the youngest, I didn’t get all that much say in what we watched. My brother wasn’t exactly backhanding me with our copy of Homeward Bound in protest, but it became clear that he and my dad could only take Peter and Shadow reuniting a finite number of times. Despite my mother’s mild protests, which were considered void by all after she ordered a large coffee at lunch, I was given my first dose of gory, glorious cinemagic.
And so it was that I first saw The Last of the Mohicans.
It was so edgy; minorities got cut in half with crude weaponry, people got burned at the stake, Madeleine Stowe’s hair was so unruly and tangled, but I still liked it. And, obviously, it was full of what my still-pseudo-doughy-mind couldn’t yet identify, but which was quite clearly Daniel Day-Lewis (as Hawkeye) never wearing a fully-buttoned shirt.
Every time we got in the car, it was The Last of the Mohicans or nothing at all. You want to watch Homeward Bound? I’m sorry, Dad, I didn’t know we were participating in a Pride Parade today. Just the first half hour, I promise. Just let me see Hawkeye hop around the forest like a mythical Dryad, let me see the British soldiers get taken out in that surprise attack that illustrates the benefit of guerrilla warfare during the French and Indian War. I know that you’re sitting on the tape, Dad, I can see it.
My mom first grew to hate the movie’s ominous theme song, then the entire movie. Later in life, in the fourth grade to be exact, I would tell my mom that I wanted to join the school concert band, and that I wanted to play the drums–or, “percussion,” as it was called. My mom would tell me that the drums are not a real instrument, and so I would take up the flute instead. One of the first things I teach myself on the flute is said ominous theme song from The Last of the Mohicans.
Listen from :40 to 1:00.
Whenever my mom, like a responsible parent, insists that I practice flute, I storm into the other room and begin playing the ominous theme. I stop abruptly and hope to catch the tail-end of her saying “GODDAMN MOVIE” from the kitchen.
To this day, I don’t really identify Daniel Day-Lewis as the actor who played Hawkeye. Hawkeye is real to me, and he’s out there. I feel that this is probably the reason most of my romantic relationships to date have failed; sure, the guy I’m dating is great, but he just isn’t a Kentucky-rifle-wielding, half-Native American man with few social graces and unparallelled survival skills. Can the guy I’m dating cook? Sure. But can he catch that animal he’s nonchalantly broiling? Can he field dress it, use all of its bodily parts for some noble purpose, and then give thanks to its spirit for the sacrifice it’s made by dying so that we might continue living? I doubt it.
Hawkeye can press you up against a barrel of ammo and give you the makeout session of your life, he can jump through raging waterfalls for you and track you across an entire state just by putting his ear to the ground and gently bending twigs. He will find you, no matter how long it takes, no matter how far. He will find you.
But Jareth the Goblin King embodies that rare combination of ambiguous gender and tailor-made riding breeches that, for some reason, is magnetic. You want to make out with him, and then run away really fast. You want to know what’s under those breeches, but you really don’t.
In the same way that Hawkeye is perfect and will spend his life combing the wilds for you, Jareth the Goblin King is weird, unattainable, and almost certainly homosexual. You kind of want to borrow Jareth’s clothes.
Hawkeye is the guy you marry, Jareth is the guy you do weird stuff with your freshman year of college, and then deny it later. Around age 30, you start to wonder “what if” about your relationship with Jareth, but then you recall why you never dated him, and why that was a good thing.
TOP 3 REASONS WHY YOU NEVER DATE JARETH the GOBLIN KING
1) Jareth the Goblin King will make out with you for fifteen minutes at a party, and then you’ll turn around to find him making out with a dude. Sure, he loved you then, but that was minutes ago.
Now he’s queer, and he’s here!
2) He’s a pedophile–but in a weird, hot way.
3) When you dance with him, you worry that people think he’s prettier than you.
Maybe the key is shooting for a middle man, someone between the rugged outdoorsman and the Queen Bitch. He’d be a man with his concealed carry license, but he’d keep that gun tucked inside a sequined jacket. He’d know the perfect eyebrow shape for your face type, and still be able to craft you a pair of rawhide moccasins from scratch. And maybe, just maybe, his ability to whip up a fire would be rivaled only by his ability to whip up the perfect vodka tonic.