It Came From the 80s: Xanadu (1980)

June 14, 2011

Xanaduby Sheri White

You’re probably starting to snicker now that you’ve seen what movie I’m writing about.  Go ahead, get it out of your system.  I love this movie with all of my heart and always will.  Sure it’s a little hokey and some of the acting is atrocious, but STILL.  The movie is pure magic and the music phenomenal.

I can’t remember who I even saw the movie with, but it was probably one of my friends. I wasn’t dating yet, but that was coming – because that was around the time I met Kevin. I was all of fourteen years old, shy as a kitten and went to an all-girls’ Catholic high school.  He was sixteen, outgoing and went to public school, and he was working at our community pool as a lifeguard.

I melted the first time I saw him up on that lifeguard chair, looking so cool in his mirrored sunglasses. He was so cute – and even cuter once I saw him without the sunglasses.  We caught each other’s eyes, and that began almost three years of an intense on-again/off-again relationship, much to my mother’s dismay.

I’ve written about our first date – we saw the first and original Friday the 13th.  After that we mostly hung out at the pool together; I’d hang out after the pool closed while he cleaned up, and he’d walk me home. Then he took me to a party a few weeks later.  It was so hard for me; I saw so shy and didn’t really know anybody but Kevin.  Plus people were drinking alcohol.

I was being brought up by a strict and extremely religious mom, and this just blew me away.  Didn’t they know they could get into big trouble?  God, I was so uncomfortable and out of place.  And Kevin spiked my Coke! He said he just wanted me to relax because I was so nervous.  I couldn’t drink it; the hounds of hell would be on my ass if my mother smelled booze on me.

Kevin finally took pity on me and walked me home, which was another magical time.  We shared our first real kiss, not just the pecks he had given me before.  I was on cloud nine – until the next time I went to the pool and he ignored me. My heart was so broken. I’d later find out that he thought I was just too young for him – and I probably was; being so held down my mom and the nuns at school, I was very naïve, extremely shy and a little immature for my age.

I listened to the Xanadu soundtrack over and over.  Olivia Newton-John’s “Magic” was such a powerful song; I’d imagine it was about Kevin and me and that he’d want to go out with me again. I was so hopeless in love and it was awful.  Even now that song takes me back to that summer and how I was so up and down with my emotions while it was popular and always on the radio.

I saw the movie at the theater a couple more times, each time better than the last.  Truly, what was there not to like about this movie? I mean – Gene Kelly on roller skates, people! I had no idea who he was until I was an adult and watched An American in Paris, which is now my favorite musical.

Watching his old stuff when he was so young makes me appreciate even more his performance in Xanadu – not many men his age, hell MY age, could dance on roller skates and make it look easy and fantastic.  I don’t think Michael Beck was heard from again, but he was a good “Sonny,” even though his acting was iffy.  Olivia was perfect, as usual.  Her voice is magical itself.

Kevin didn’t completely ignore me after a while – he started talking to me and playing with me in the pool when he was on break, but he didn’t ask me out again for quite a while. My heart didn’t completely mend, but I did start dating other guys.  Kevin would be back, though – again, much to my mother’s dismay.

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