My family has always been very television-centric. Growing up, we would eat dinner in front of the tv, talk, laugh, cry, all in front of the tv. It was like a 5th family member, the one that wouldn’t shut up. This being said, my parents were extremely lenient about what I was able to watch. For instance, I was allowed to view Nightmare on Elm Street in the dead of dark without a second thought, scaring the bejesus out of my kindergarten self. Seriously, recurring nightmares of Freddie Krueger for months.
The lone exception to the rule was Dirty Dancing.
Dirty Dancing was released into movie theaters when I was about 8 years old. Not long after, it made it’s way to cable where it became a staple. I can remember peeking around the corner of our living room as my mother watched Johnny and Baby dance together. As soon as she would notice my small shadow or hear a faint footstep, the channel was quickly changed. It was like someone who had been caught doing something really bad, even though now it all seems quite tame.
A short time later, I was given my own tv for my bedroom. Of course, as soon as Dirty Dancing came on cable again, I sat transfixed. This was about as rebellious as I ever got as a kid. The volume down, a bashful grin on my face, a bit of embarrassment in the pit of my stomach. I loved every minute of it.
As cliche and saccharine as it is, and believe me it is, Dirty Dancing became more than just a movie. It was a part of my childhood, a rite of passage, a time of my life. It is now a memory between my Mom and I. My mother eventually figured out that I had seen it. The movie no longer became taboo. Even to this day, whenever my Mom passes it on one of the channels, she’ll give me a call to let me know. And I still love every minute of it.