Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Silvia! Yes, Mickey?

When I was in fourth grade, I went to a slumber party at Aubrey Hoover's house.

Or maybe her name was Audrey Hoosier... Or Audrey Hoover...  Aubrey Hoosier?

I think it was Aubrey Hoover.  I can't be sure.  She moved away before we hit junior high.

Or transfered to private school?

Obviously we were very close.

Anyhoo, there are three things I remember about dear ol' Aubrey (Audrey?) (her name not being one of them, apparently).

(1) I liked her curly hair and freckles.
(2) My mom was in love with her house.
(3) Her mom wasn't huge on intense adult supervision.

Not that she gave each of us a fanny pack filled with matches, moonshine, and fetish magazines and yelled HAVE AT IT, GIRLIES as she drove off in the sunset with Gina Davis, but we seemed to be mostly left to our own devices once it came down to movie selections and bedtimes.  

So there we were, all changed into our Joe Boxer PJ Sets, sprawled out over wall-to-wall sleeping bags, when it happened.

Bum... bum bum BUM!  Bum... bum bum BUM!  

It started with hazy pink and gray figures grinding to The Ronettes and ended with a much-practiced-in-cold-water-whilst-wearing-white-tank-tops, perfectly-executed LIFT (!) set to the soundtrack of the lauded (if historically inappropriate) "Time of My Life."

The First Time I Saw Dirty Dancing.  

One of my life's defining moments. 

And, like Johnny owes it all to Baby, I owe it all to Aubrey Hoover.  

Or Audrey Hoosier.  

Or her mom.  Who, on the same occasion, also let us watch Ghost (it was a Swayze Smörgåsbord!)... during which I was quite affected by those devilish minions who drag Carl into the fiery depths of hell after he's impaled by the shattered window pane.  Consequently, I had to leave the slumber party early.  Which was embarrassing.  But better than being skewered by glass and/or summoned by Satan... both sure to happen outside the watchful eye of my mother.  

Without delving deeper into my prepubescent neurosis, let's just continue onward by proclaiming the following:

My Nine Year Old Self was straight-up obsessed with Dirty Dancing.  I'm sure I mentioned it about forty-three times per week after that fateful night.  I had to see it again.

Nay!  I had to OWN it.  

But somehow, even though I didn't quite understand the particulars of "why," I knew that perhaps The Monitor wouldn't be so keen on a movie about "these people, who are kind of like kids at summer camp but not, and they dance a lot!" (my very astute plot summary). 

So I made an executive decision.  I would ask my grandmother for a VHS copy for Christmas. The year before, she'd given me Jurassic Park... in Spanish... so I kinda figured that, if I was lucky, maybe she'd gloss over the PG-13 rating like she glossed over the "en Espanol!" label.  

Sure enough, there it was on Christmas morning.  With Jennifer Gray all innocent and virginal looking in her baby pink dress on the cover.  VICTORY WAS MINE!

Pretty soon I'd memorized all the steps to the Hungry Eyes montage... I practiced in my full-length mirror... pretending my reflection was Penny when the girl-to-girl hand-jive cued up.  I knew all the songs by heart.  And sometimes, in the pool, I'd fling myself, Superman-arms-spread-wide, towards an imaginary Johnny Castle.

Of course it was inevitable as the months marched onward.  My mom eventually sat down and watched enough of the flick to figure out that there was quite a lot of horizontal mambos going on in between the vertical action.  But by then, there wasn't much she could do besides vow never to spend a summer haphazardly vacationing in the Poconos amongst sexy dance instructors from the wrong side of the tracks.  

Oh.  And discuss.  

We were a big Discussion Family.  

I think the theory was "tell the kid about the potentially damaging stuff before anyone else does and talk about it until it becomes the opposite of mysterious."  

{Which - pause for seriousness, please - was a pretty good tactic, I think!  I grew up with accurate, realistic information in regards to sex, alcohol, and drugs... decreasing their general mystique and leading to mostly healthy choices on my part.  Well done, parentals!}  

And so we talked.  Yes, I know Baby and Johnny are having sex.  And yes, I know sex is something you should do with someone you really love.   Duh, I think Baby and Johnny are really in love, otherwise he would have just left her in the corner.  Do I think Baby made a good sexual decision?  Ohmygoshmomyouresoembarrassing, canIgoplayDreamPhonenow, puh-lease?!!

There was one little tidbit I hadn't quite figured out, though... After a jazillion viewings, I still wasn't sure what was going on with Penny, and Dr. Houseman's wad of cash, and illicit doctor's appointments, and that asshole waiter that buttered the buns of both dinner rolls and lonely cougars.  

So I asked.  

And mom, always truthful - bless her heart - answered and explained.  Ever the patient teacher, she told me about how there are two sides of every controversy.  And how lots of people have very strong views on certain issues.  Some people feel strongly for religious or moral reasons.  Some for medical reasons.  Some for political reasons.  Some just because.  And no one is necessarily right or wrong.  

I listened.  I absorbed.  And I moved on with my tweeny life.  

Until Miss Leinhart's social studies class.  During the 1992 Presidential Election.  When the class was asked to brainstorm hot topics of the current debate.  And I remembered the deep-seeded political teachings of Dirty Dancing and shouted it out to be written on the blackboard... 

Ever the teacher's pet, I distinctly remember thinking "oh man, this is the best answer EVER, Miss Leinhart is going to be so jazzed!  Surely, I'll receive instant praise!"



Instead, the class got to write two journal paragraphs on why saving the environment is important to our future, while I looked up the definition of "precocious" in the big corner dictionary. 

I never liked Miss Leinhart anyhow.  

But two thumbs up for Aubrey Hoover.  

And two for Audrey Hoosier, while we're at it.  

Wherever they are.  


  1. Hilarious! I too first saw Dirty Dancing at a sleepover at an ill supervised friends house - the shocking part is I WAS IN 1st grade! It had JUST come out for rent, I hadn't even heard of it. My mom FREAKED out. Went all "WTF were you thinking" on the poor girl (Chrissy Landers, sure she's in jail)'s mom. Her mom was like 25. I clearly didnt get the social implications of the plot - I just knew they were grinding on one another and I wanted to be like them when I grew up.

  2. I had (and still have) every word to the soundtrack memorized. My mom and I would listen to it together on the way to gymnastics practice everyday. And everyday I would ask, "when can I see the movie?" I'm not kidding when I say that I think I was in college when that finally happened. I hope my mother is happy.

  3. You are an excellent writer. This should be cute!

  4. Oh I SO wanted to watch Dirty Dancing (and Pretty Woman) when I was younger, since they were *THE* movies for my mom. Finally, she spent a whole afternoon while I was at school crudely editing both films for my viewing pleasure... because let's face it, I didn't care about the crying or the horizontal limbos, I cared about the clothes, the shopping, the dancing and the parties. Plot be damned!

    LOVE this post, brings back SO many memories.

  5. I love it! I was about 4 or 5 when Dirty Dancing came out. My parents let me rent the tape all of the time. I loved every single minute of it. When you could see Patrick Swayze's tush I would apparently rewind and giggle like mad. My mom had the cassette soundtrack and it was hands down our favorite thing to listen to.

    My mom is visiting and I just asked her, Why did you let me watch that? She said – you didn't know what was going on and you loved the dancing! Yet somehow a few years later I was forbidden from watching the Bodyguard. That was another soundtrack I was obsessed with. Haha. Thanks for the reminder of a great childhood memory!

  6. I watched the movie at a friend's house as well without my parents knowing and felt the same way as you. I must see this again ASAP. I made my grandma rent it for me...through some persuasion. Something about how I had already seen it :) But I didn't understand any of the movie. I just wanted to see them DANCE!

  7. Your mom sounds awesome, and this post makes me want to curl up on the couch with hot chocolate and watch Dirty Dancing.

    Um, that hot chocolate will probably have Bailey's in it though.

  8. You are hilarious and such a great story teller! I think every girl remembers the first time she saw DD and it affected us all. I was always intrigued by this movie because I knew it was my mom's favorite, yet I was strictly forbidden to watch it. Well, one night while my parents were out, my babysitter put the VHS in and let me watch it with her. I felt super guilty but it was so worth it! I became obsessed with the movie and still am. Unlike you, I was afraid to ask about the money and doctor visits and so was about 6 years late in fully understanding the storyline...
    Great post! So many great memories like Joe Boxer-I totally forgot about the coolest PJs in the early 90s!

  9. How do you call your loverboy? C'mere Loverboy!

    I was banned from DD, but that didn't stop me at friends' houses! Pretty WOman was banned as well.

  10. oh my gosh I had no idea what that scene with the Doc in the middle of the night was about until I hit college and rewatched and realized, WHOA. I was never banned from DD because my sister was 7 years older and watched about twice a week for about a year. I just had to cover my eyes during certain parts (I always peaked). Probably the only advantage of having above mentioned sister.

  11. I think we are a whole generation of people who watched Dirty Dancing for the first time while at a friend's house secretly. My friend was Jamie and she lived with her Grandmother who was asleep after her 4:30pm dinner.

    Love. Love. That movie.

  12. Huge props to your mom. (again.) (always.)

    My mom was actually on hand for my first DD viewing. She wanted to see it and with no time to watch movies sans kids (did you feel that shudder going out to my future self?) announced that we would all watch it together, but "if the dancing got too dirty," she'd turn it off. I think she ended up fast-forwarding through half the movie.

  13. It took me forever to get what was happening with Penny too!

  14. Hahaha! I think watching Dirty Dancing was a defining moment in everyone's life. I watched it at a sleepover at Erin Safaragin's house (Erin, are you out there?). Her mom lived at the beach and had a pot bellied pig as a housepet. You see now why I loved going to Erin's house. I soooo didn't understand like 80% of the movie, thus I was unaware of all the SEX and the whole Penny situation, I just knew that there was dancing and corners and Baby wasn't staying in one and oh my gosh how cute was Patrick Swayze?! I remember the day I finally got my own copy of the movie--I was 14. It was a Christmas present in VHS form.!

  15. Haha! I love this post-I remember when I saw my watching My Best Friend's Wedding at a sleepover when I was in like 5th grade and being terrified my parents would find out I watched a movie I know they would not have let me seen at our house! Unlike you with Aubrey (Audrey?), I watched this movie at my bff Spencer's house and she's still my bff, so I guess that's something :)

  16. Dirty Dancing (along with Moonstruck, Ghost, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding) is one of those movies that I will watch, anytime, in any circumstance. If I happen across it on the teevee I don't care how much has already passed by. It made my young heart ache in a way I didn't understand at the time... and when Johnny and Penny were dancing to "Do You Love Me?"... I have never wished to be anyone so hard in all my life.

    I think it's one of those generation-defining movies for women our age. I never mourn celebs but when Patrick died last year a little part of me died too.

  17. Kate,
    I went to school with you from 3rd-12th grade. I knew Aubrey somewhat, and her last name was Hooser. She's probably on Facebook if you want to reconnect. Anyways I love your blog and hope you are doing well.

  18. @smanukonda Hello, Mystery Classmate! Can you reveal your true identity? Either way, thanks for reading :) And perhaps I'll see you at the 10 Year Reunion next year? Sigh. We're old, apparently.

  19. I live about 20 minutes away from Lake Lure in NC (where the movie was filmed...) and definitely attended the "Dirty Dancing Festival" last weekend in honor of the movie's anniversary. Complete with a dive-in viewing of the movie on the lake, with a screen on the side of the lodge...anddd dance lessons. Amazing.

  20. "Do I think Baby made a good sexual decision? Ohmygoshmomyouresoembarrassing, canIgoplayDreamPhonenow, puh-lease?!!"

    Oh. My. Gosh. Pretty sure my Mom and I had the same discussion after every sexual scene of any movie ever when I was growing up. Classic post!

  21. I had totally forgotten about Grandma giving you Jurrasic Park in Spanish, and I had to laugh outloud!! Bless her heart!
    Being a parent is not easy (even with a wonderful daughter like you)--you're frequently second guessing yourself--Did I do the right thing? Am I being too lenient or strict? You never know what's really going to be a "defining moment". Thanks for recalling and sharing these meaningful memories!!

  22. That is so funny! I also remember watching Dirty Dancing at a slumber party when I was about 9. Her parents clearly had no clue that the name kind of gave away the theme to the movie.

    And, um, why do parents make things so awkward!??

  23. I was totally hoping that Aub(d)rey was going to comment on this post and reveal her identity.

    I can't remember the first time I watched Dirty Dancing. Is that bad? I'm so not one of the cool kids anymore...

  24. Kate,
    I still remember your golden retreiver (Casey? Carrie? something like that) because your house was the bus stop in middle school. She was so cute.

  25. @smanukonda Cassie! She was the best - She actually lived to be nearly 16 years old! We had to put her to sleep my first year of law school - I still miss her a ton!

  26. Oh, Dirty Dancing. Some of the most vivid memories of my childhood surround that movie. My best friend (whose mom was fairly strict but somehow still didn't see a problem with a bunch of 8-year-olds watching Dirty Dancing) was the reason I saw it for the first time, and we became obsessed. We used to pause the split second that Patrick Swayze gets out of bed and you see a quick shot of his butt cheek. We also used to ACT OUT SCENES FROM THE MOVIE AT RECESS. I kid you not. If only I had a time machine to go back and see what we actually thought we were acting out. Now THAT would be hi-larious.

    It took me years to understand what "knocked up" meant and realize that Penny didn't just have a really bad stomach ache. Alas, no matter how many times I've seen it, I still get a little teary eyed during the last dance scene. What a fantastic movie.

  27. Well hellllllllllllllo Kate! Aubrey here! I remember that party so vividly. Especially the shocker that my mom showed up with both Ghost AND Dirty Dancing (though to be fair, in the fifth grade one of the girl's moms let us watch the first half of Silence of the Lambs and all of Child's Play)! I think you'll be happy to know I still pride myself on throwing movie nights, turning people on to awesome flicks they never would have seen otherwise. The Blockbuster down the street is closing, and tonight I honest to god handed this teen girl and her mom a stack of dvds and just said "Buy these, I'm telling ya."

    Strangely enough my mom and I never had THE talk. Hell I didn't realize there was an abortion going on in the background for forevers, but I damn well knew Baby's Daddy should be blaming Johnny, let alone putting her in a corner.

    Sadly, my mom passed away 5 years ago, but I'm sure she'd have laughed reading this. She thought she was pretty conservative, parenting-wise- hell all of Fox's early 90s programming except Simpsons and X-files were a no-no. And Roseanne. Lordy that woman hated Roseanne.

    Anywho, mega thanks to Alexis, who sent me the link to this. I totally needed it- Friday would have been my mom's 60th birthday.


  28. THIS IS WHY I LOVE THE INTERNET! Oh my goodness, Aubrey! This made my whole week!

    I am so sorry to hear about your mom. She will always have a very special place in my heart as the lady who introduced me to Dirty Dancing!

    Aren't parents' "media boundaries" funny? My mom HATED Roseanne as well - Married with Children and Melrose Place were also out for me! But I definitely remember seeing The Exorcist and The Shinning well before age 13... and I know my poor mom got verbally lashed by another classmate's mom for taking us to see Billy Madison! She once told me that if I had ended up 16 and Pregnant, she would have blamed herself for letting me watch Friends... Friends? Really??? Totally cracked me up!

    Regardless, it's great to hear from you - I hope you're well... and thanks for letting me publicly relive some super fabulous childhood memories!

    xox, K


happy little comments!