The first time I had the chance to watch “Gone with the Wind,” I turned up my nose.
My memory of walking into the crowded student union lounge sticks with me still.
I was in hot pursuit of a bigger TV and comfortable chair to watch some football game or another.
My initial thought as I spotted the filled cushions from the doorway was that plenty of my fellow students at Morrisville Agricultural and Technical College — MATC to those of us who loved it — had the same goal.
But then I saw an old movie on the TV.
“There’s a good game on. Watcha watching?” I must have asked nobody in particular, perhaps accompanied by a tenor of disgust and impatience.
“Gone with the Wind,” was murmured, along with a volley of hush-ups and more than one or two stink eyes.
I looked hard. I saw a lot of mesmerized people. I decided it would be unwise to press the possibility of changing the channel. And I turned around and walked out the door. Most likely, I headed to the smaller tube and iffy reception in my dorm floor lounge.
For the rest of the weekend, though, I heard various discussions going on about the classic. All it did was put more air in my balloon of foolish young pride. “Gone with the Wind” over football? How could they?
Silly, stubborn teenager, I was.
And somehow, I never saw “Gone with the Wind” in the almost four decades that followed.
I continued to pick up things second-hand. People talking about Tara. Catch phrases that still were twisted into punchlines. News accounts about author Margaret Mitchell and novel sequels.
My dear wife Karen found out. The subject came up the first time we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” together a handful of Christmas Eves ago. She could hardly believe it was my first time appreciating that Jimmy Stewart classic. Asked about what other cultural icons I had somehow escaped, I brought up the iconic tale of the south featuring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.
In 2012, I bought Karen a Blu-Ray player for Christmas. I told her how I’d tried to find a Blu-Ray version of “Gone with the Wind” to go along with it.
This past summer, a package arrived by mail. Inside was a 70th anniversary edition Blu Ray of “Gone with the Wind,” a present from Karen.
I told her we’d watch it on a significant occasion.
That was this New Year’s Day.
Just husband, wife, a flat screen and 238 minutes of Scarlett and Rhett in striking high definition.
I watched intently as the South burned, Scarlett fumed, loved ones died, and Rhett finally gave up on winning her heart.
And, frankly, 75 years after it was released, I did give a damn.
Is there a classic movie that you regret never seeing? Have you finally given in and sat through a classic you’ve avoided?