Late Night Movies
Late night TV movies have an endearing enigma about them. They’re usually not the greatest movies, but that’s the fun of it. It’s the whole experience of sitting in your uncle’s slightly chilly kitchen, staring glassy-eyed at the flat screen in all its glory, wondering how it got to be so late and why you’re still up.
Then you remember that it’s all your uncle’s fault. He had said to you, “Did you ever see Dragnet? It’s based off this old TV show with the same name.” And so you all sat down to watch the last two thirds of it, waiting for relatives to arrive for the reunion that is going to be taking place tomorrow. You haven’t seen these people since last July, so you’re really excited.
At some point in the last half hour of the movie, you hear a “Yoo-hoo!” from the door to the garage, You hurry to open it, and your cousins from Delaware spill into the room, their blond hair all messed up from sitting in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge at 10 PM. The dad is holding their daughter. She is half-asleep. The mom is holding their son. He is fully asleep. Both kids are dressed in their kiddy pajamas with dinosaurs or flowers or something, and you show the parents the way up to the room where much-wanted beds are waiting. They tuck in the kids in the polka-dot sheets and wander back downstairs.
You break out the boxes of portion-sized cereal and talk over the sound of the commercials and the rustling of the translucent plastic. You catch up from when you saw them from last year’s reunion as you watch Tom Hanks put on some random goatskin leggings and jump into a snake pit.
Your uncle always shows you movies impossibly late at night and falls asleep every time. But that’s the fun of it. Your parents are back in your hometown, so for one night you can basically do anything you want. And that suits you just fine, even if you do end up seeing the bad parts of Air Force One at 2 AM, because that’s the whole point.
When the movie is, at some length, over, it’s just you and your sister in the kitchen, drawing portions of faces on squares of white paper. The rest of the relatives have given up- first your cousins, after Dragnet was over, and then your uncle. Even though he’s seen Air Force One before, he jokingly asked you to tell him how it ends. Of course, the good guys won, but not without some serious losses. You don’t watch many horror movies late at night, but this movie came very close to that category (except with politicians instead of birds or body-snatchers).
Your sister turns to you and says tiredly, “You know we really should be getting to bed now…”
You roll your eyes and yawn. “I know…” but you just can’t seem to tear yourself away.
Finally, after watching a particularly bad commercial about a product that is apparently a miracle at cleaning cars but looks like a rip-off, you force yourselves to turn off the TV and get up. Then you have to tiptoe upstairs as quietly as possible, because that’s the other important thing about late night movies- sneaking upstairs afterwards. And not getting caught.