Every time I see Ed Begley Jr. in Los Angeles – which is more often than I ever expected – I’m tempted to tell him that my wife and I saw TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000 on our honeymoon. And we’re still married.
It’s true. Tracy and I were married twenty-nine years ago today, and on our honeymoon we saw two movies: the aforementioned TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000 and ROCKY 4, the one with the Russian. It was 1985, we were kids, cut us some slack.
Buying a ticket, sitting in a theater, is still hands-down my favorite way to see a movie. Tracy Gunter Jackson is without a doubt my favorite person to see a movie with. Our first movie date was ROMANCING THE STONE – which just happened to be released on her 18th birthday in 1984. I paid for the tickets but we both used our Student Discount Movie Cards. The cards were a cross-promotion between local theaters and the Arkansas Democrat newspaper – before it became the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Tracy and I started dating the second semester of our senior year in high school. We’d been friends for a while before that. In those days you could find us most weekends with our friends either at the United Artists Breckenridge Village theater or at Mazzio’s Pizza a few blocks further east on Rodney Parham Road (in Little Rock). Shortly after we graduated in the summer of ’84 we just about wore those discount cards out going to see GHOSTBUSTERS several times.
We’ve been married 29 years – 10,585 days. In that time I estimate we’ve had roughly 600 movie dates. In the last month we’ve seen BIRDMAN, NIGHTCRAWLER, BIG HERO SIX and PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR. (Having a kid added another layer to our movie-going experience.) Each time we’ve seen a stinker we’ve tried to blame the other person for choosing it. Both of us still swear the other picked TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000. Each of us tries to take credit for FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF and PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. We’ve cried together in movie theaters and we’ve laughed together. We’ve gone to see movies when we were fighting and sometimes seeing a movie has helped us start a difficult conversation. We’ve gone to movies to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and also when the grief of losing a loved one would not abate by any other means. Movies have been the lingua franca of our generation and in some ways they’ve been that for our relationship as well.
In all the words that were printed last week on the passing of Mike Nichols, I read something that Mr. Nichols said about his marriage to Diane Sawyer: “I don’t know any secrets about what makes a marriage work, except if you can marry Diane, you’ll be in great shape.” I love that – and I’ll say for the record, the same is true for Tracy.