(Adapted from a post I started way back before Thanksgiving and just got around to finishing).
Just got done watching the movie Stand by Me. I’ve seen it a hundred times, it always leaves me feeling a little sad, empty, nostalgic and happy for the friends I had as a kid. I’ve had two best friends in my life, both named Ed, one in Mass and one here in Utah. They helped me navigate my way through childhood and adolescence, from the day I met the first one in kindergarten to well past my high school graduation. I have no idea what happened to Ed the first. It was over thirty years ago when I last heard from him and at the time he was homeless in Minneapolis. I invited him out to Utah but he never showed up. I still talk to the second Ed, he’s a professor of Psychology in a state nearby. We get together every time he comes into town, once or twice a year, and it’s just like old times.
Stand by Me is a movie made from the short story The Body by Stephen King. Stephen King is one of my favorite writers, I’ve loved almost every book of his I’ve read. I hear a lot of people berating his work as being too horrific, too mechanistic, too predictable, among other things I can’t remember offhand. I’m not a writer, English was my weak subject. (For all the people who tell me ‘Oh, I hated Math’ or ‘I suck at Math’ when I tell them what I do for a living, I tell them ‘back at ya, except for me it was English’.) So I’m not going to argue those points, or his work on any literary level.
Why do I love his work? Because, in my opinion, his characters and character relationships are phenomenal. “IT” is not about a clown that terrorized a town every 50 years, it’s about a group of kids that had to deal with something profoundly terrifying, and then grew up to have to deal with it all over again. Half of the book Cujo is about what is going on in the dogs mind, how the rabies distorts the dog’s view of things. Dead Zone delves into the age old question “If you knew what Hitler was going to do and had the chance to kill him before he did it, would you?” and the experience of being (figuratively) thrown 20 years into the future. Survivor Type (which still gives me the willies) is about how far a human being will go to survive.
Stand by Me is not about finding a dead body. It’s about 4 twelve year old boys, the last week before they start junior high, and how they deal with life, death, bullies and each other. That last line of the movie always gets to me, just makes me a little bit nostalgic.