It Came From the ’80s: The World According to Garp (1982)

July 26, 2011

The World According to Garp (1982)By Sheri White

Last week I said that every girl dates a creep at some time in her life.  Well, she will also date a really cool guy at some point.

My cool guy was Andy.  I met him when a group of us went to the Mall in DC on July 4th to party and listen to the Beach BQoys.  My friend Hugh brought him along, and we hit it off immediately.  His name was actually Andrew, but he let me call him Andy.  He had beautiful eyes, long dark hair and played bass guitar in a band.  What was not to like?  Plus, he was just really nice.

Again, my mom wasn’t exactly thrilled because he was almost twenty and had graduated high school.  But he won her over with his charm and smile.  His friends and mine hung out a lot, having picnics at the lake, sneaking in coolers of beer.  We made friends with one of the park rangers, and he let the beer slide, as long as we didn’t cause any trouble.  Which we didn’t.

Andy introduced me to a lot of stuff – music, books and movies that I wouldn’t have considered checking out on my own.  I became a fan of this new rockabilly trio called “Stray Cats” – I had never heard of them, but once Andy played me their music, I was hooked.  I still am.  He liked a group called King Crimson and we listened to them a lot in his room while talking about books and authors we liked.  I hadn’t dated a guy before that like to read! This was a real treat.

He had me reading Herman Hesse and John Irving, and I read “A Clockwork Orange” on his recommendation, even though I had seen the movie.  One night he wanted to see Irving’s The World According to Garp, and even though I hadn’t read that Irving novel yet, I was interested.

I had only known Robin Williams as Mork from Ork, and I was prepared to watch something really funny. And while there were some hilarious moments (the plane hitting their new house made me laugh), the movie wasn’t exactly a comedy.  I was shocked when Garp’s wife had the affair which ended up in a young man’s horrible mutilation; I was a little embarrassed as well because of the way it happened.  I had also never seen a transvestite either on screen or in real life, so John Lithgow’s portrayal was very interesting.

Although I was enjoying the movie immensely, I started to realize that it was a much longer movie that I had thought, and my strict curfew was fast approaching.  I started bugging Andy to take me home, but he was intent on finishing the movie. He knew what was going to happen at the end since he had read the book, but I didn’t.  This was back in the days before cell phones, of course, and there was no way to let my mom know what was going on unless I used a phone booth, but they were out in the mall and I wouldn’t be able to get back in the theater.  So I started stressing out, sort of watching the movie, but mostly hoping I wasn’t going to get into trouble.

But the ending of the movie erased all that from my mind.  I thought Garp would finally have his happy ending, but it was not to be.  Remembering him in the helicopter, bleeding and barely coherent from a gunshot wound, can still choke me up a bit.  I was glad Andy had made us stay until the end; it would’ve been a powerful scene to miss out on.

Andy and I only dated for a couple months.  I did get to see him rehearse with his band, which made this teenage girl swoon – they played “Freewill” by Rush, and Andy had a solo part that rocked.  But I went to Texas with my brother to see our dad a few weeks later, and he found someone else that he liked.  I was a little heartbroken, but I had known we wouldn’t last – I met him after Kevin and I broke up, and he was my rebound, a salve to sooth my crushed soul after Kevin dumped me at his graduation party.

Andy and I ran into each other a couple years later – at a Stray Cats concert at Maryland University, and he took me to a party on campus after the party that was a lot of fun.  But nothing else really happened after that. Andy helped me through a rough time and made the Summer of 1982 a fun one, and for that I’ll always remember him fondly.

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