I really enjoyed reading Wil Wheaton’s post the other day about childhood summers. It got me thinking about my own childhood summers and that turning point in my life.
One of my favorite summers actually includes him. Kinda sorta. 1986, the year Stand By Me came out. Wil Wheaton was in the movie. My best friend Emer and I saw it at least 11 times in the theater. Since it was rated -R we got notes from our parents (or maybe we just wrote them ourselves) gaining us admittance into the theater. I really don’t even think they cared. Really, what is so bad about the movie? Cussing – meh, I grew up in a french Canadian household, I’d heard it all. I’m sure by 13 years old I had used all the good ones correctly, anyway.
I can’t remember now if it was that summer or the following one, but through the magic of “Teen Beat” magazine we found out that Wil’s birthday was July 29. Pre internet this is how we got our scoop. It was all true, just like the internet of today. My friend Emer and I actually baked a cake and had our own Wil Wheaton birthday party. Emer and I spent so much time together that summer. We were so taken by not only Wil but also the whole film and acting genre. We used my stepfather’s video camera and made little movies, I can not for the life of me remember what they were about, I just have small snippets in my mind of filming small things on the ground at my step dad’s greenhouse business. I remember going to the 4th of July parade in my town that year, again with Emer and the rest of my extended family. The music in Stand By Me introduced us to a past generation of really cool tunes. I remember singing along in her room to not only the Stand By Me Soundtrack but also Beatles songs and Dion’s The Wander.
That summer is the defining moment when I became a geek. I wouldn’t know it or embrace it until adulthood, though. Through my fondness for Mr. Wheaton and Stand By Me, I learned he was going to be on a tv show and I’d get to see him every week. That little tv show opened up a whole new world for me. I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation just to see Wil on it, but later realized I liked the show. I was taken by science fiction theme, and the idea that there was more out there then just us. It was then that I decided I was going to become an astronaut. Emer and I continued to follow Wil’s budding acting career and tried to imagine he was our friend right there with us. He mentioned in an interview he liked to do magic, after being in the TV movie, The Young Harry Houdini. Emer and I got in trouble at our Catholic Middle school for doing card tricks. We started the first ever (and maybe only) Young Astronauts club at Mater Christi Catholic School.
Then I moved away and lost track of Emer. I entered those akward High school years and not only was a new student in a new school, but also since our move from was from the north to the south I was in culture shock for most of my freshmen year (why the hell do they put sugar in their iced tea?). I continued to grow and secretly have passion for geeky things. I was not so forthcoming about my sci fi interest during my High school years. I was actually into my adult life when I finally realized what I was. It became so much easier after the internet was born to find out just what was out there. I found out about Wil again when I stumbled upon his blog and have been an avid follower since. He is an excellent writer and speaker. He seems like a really cool guy. I like what he stands for and what he is passionate about. He grew up to be just a regular dude and is living a decent life. He seems to be very committed to his family and his art. I later also reconnected with Emer through Facebook, and although we are worlds apart, I still feel a connection to her as one of the influential parts of my childhood.
I never had another summer like that one when I was 13. Jesus, does anyone?