Thursday 29 Sep 2016

A Little Visit
AJ Robinson

I’ve had all kinds of visit with friends and family. Sometimes we get together for the day, sometimes for several days. I’ve even had visits that only lasted a couple hours. Yet, some of them have been truly special, and they didn’t even have to be that long. There was one special get together and it was all too brief.

My Aunt Marny came to visit my Dad and me in our condominium in Venice one year. As with any visit, we sat down to dinner. This time it was a bit different. We had the television on; HBO, which, back then, was the only cable movie channel around. I know, a thousand years ago! A movie came on. I had seen many times, at the movie theater, as it was my favourite, but Marny had never seen it.

Marny loved musicals. She also had a weakness for Disney films. We left the movie on, even as we set the table and cooked dinner.

Marny found the story and songs delightful, and she especially loved seeing so many familiar faces. For those people who haven’t seen the film, it features such fine actors as Red Buttons, Mickey Rooney, Shelley Winters and Jim Backus, to name only a few of the cast members. They were performers that Marny and my Dad had seen in countless films and television shows throughout their lives. It greatly pleased Marny to see them together in the movie.


The fictional town of Passamaquoddy.

Then there was the setting, the fictional town of Passamaquoddy. As a side note, while the town isn’t real, there really is a Passamaquoddy Bay, in Maine. As my Dad and Aunt grew up in Massachusetts and often went on trips around New England, the location was as entertaining to them as the story itself. There was even a song, sung by Jim Dale, which lists a whole bunch of towns and places across New England, each of them real, even though some of their names sound truly strange. My Dad and Aunt laughed and giggled to hear those places, all of them connected to memories of their youth together.

I always loved to hear my Aunt Marny laugh. She had such a sweet little laugh. I always thought of it as a mix of the coo of a dove and a child’s giggle. It was soft and gentle as a sigh, and it made me smile just to think about it. Even today, I can just close my eyes, think of her, and hear that laugh. I smile.

By the time we were done with dinner, the movie was nearly over. As our condominium had one large common room, a living qua dining combo, we’d been able to watch the movie while we ate. Now, as the story shifted into its final act, we moved to the living area to watch the ending.

A particular scene always elicited audience reaction, back when I saw it in the movie theater. Pete and Elliott, the dragon, are celebrating their victory over the Gogans, the evil family that had adopted Pete for use as a virtual slave.


Behind them a harpoon gun appeared.

Suddenly, behind them a harpoon gun with a lit fuse swings into view. It’s the secondary villains, who are intent on killing Elliott to get his dragon parts to sell. At this point, kids and even adults, in the theatre, would cry out, “Look out, Elliott!” “Elliott, look behind you!” I always took that as a true compliment to the film. It meant that people invested in the characters and their plight.

Again, as a side note, everything turns out okay. The gun misses Elliott. Well, when that scene came on, Marny fell silent and truly focused on the action. Although she didn’t call out, I could tell she was concerned for Elliott’s well-being. Yes, the story pulled here into it.

Marny was always a true child at heart, just like me; maybe that’s part of the reason we were so close. After that, on many visits with Marny, she would often mention the movie; how much she enjoyed watching it with us. That memory is quite the precious one.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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