Midnight Sun

The July 4th weekend is many things. A remembrance of national independence. A welcome three-day respite from working. A well-timed reason for family gatherings. A convenient excuse for me to post this picture of Esther Baxter. It was also my late grandmother's birthday -- which usually resulted in some sort of family gathering and the inevitable arguments and drama she seemingly enjoyed cultivating.
Once upon a time it was my wedding anniversary as well.
There was a danger there for a while after things fell apart and people passed away where this weekend could have been a real bummer. I suppose it was the first few times around -- but the 4th of July weekend for many years was also the home of one of my favorite things in the whole world --
The annual Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci Fi channel.
Have I mentioned how much I love the Twilight Zone? How I would argue with my parents to stay up just a little bit later so I could watch re-runs of it (and the Outer Limits) on TV? That my nickname in 6th grade was TZ? That I even tried to enjoy and be a fan of the "modernized" version of the show that came out in the mid-80's?

Every 4th of July (and New Years Eve) the Sci-Fi channel would run a marathon. Hours upon hours of classic episodes back to back. It was a heaven like no other -- a nerd paradise, thought-provoking distraction, trip down memory lane, and drinking game all in one place. And it was all mine.

Back in the day that was sort of the appeal of the Sci Fi network. Whether it was because they didn't have the rights to many shows or hadn't gotten on the kick of making their own terrible, terrible movies yet -- they used to play all the old shows. All the classic stuff. There were many times when I'd be watching some show on that network where I'd think to myself, "I bet I'm the only one out there who likes this at all."
150 episodes of black and white melodrama from the 60's. Theater style dialogue and sets. Heavy-handed social commentary that frequently dealt with long-forgotten subjects. Everybody in almost every episode smoking cigarettes. Special effects that seem laughable by modern standards.
Even if you kinda liked the series, it wasn't just anybody who could sit through two days of it without eventually burning out.
And yet she did, every year.
It's one of the many, many things that made her special. That linked us in a way that I think even we were surprised by. An intelligent, charismatic, stunner of a woman who watches both Twilight Zone marathons every year? Who actually gets anxious waiting for it to start? Who won't leave the house or go to bed because she's afraid she'll miss her favorite episodes?
We'd watch it together -- counting the Burgess Meredith episodes, patiently waiting for them to play "Time Enough At Last."
Even when we were separated by miles or circumstances, you'd find us on the phone -- watching it together (in a sense), commenting on the episodes and falling into the same side conversations we'd surely talked about the year before.
This might not make sense to everyone who reads it -- but watching the Twilight Zone marathon together was the only thing we ever really planned to do that we actually saw through, instead of getting ..distracted.
I suppose it all sounds kinda corny. Nerdy at the very least. But when you find something like that, especially when it comes with the deepest, most intoxicating eyes you've ever stared into, a body that could stop traffic, and a mischievous spirit that made every moment together an adventure -- none of those names people might call you didn't even matter.

All that really mattered was the way we felt. The way we were together.

People didn't understand. But then again, most folks never really took the time to find out. There were so many other details on the surface available to focus on, so many obvious question marks.
So many things that normally wouldn't make sense.
It's like that sometimes -- The owner of a ticking stopwatch who can move around as he pleases even though time all around seems to have stopped. A coin landing perfectly on it's side -- giving the man who flipped it the ability to read the minds of everyone around him. Five strangers dressed in costumes (an soldier, a clown, a hobo, a ballet dancer, and a bagpiper) wake up to find themselves trapped in a giant cylinder-shaped prison cell with no memory of who they are or how they got there. A woman obsessed by the fact that she doesn't look like "everybody else" undergoes repeated plastic surgery operations to correct her horrible facial disfigurements -- all without success.

Things don't always have to make sense on the surface to work. To mean something special. To enrich your life. In a lot of ways that's what makes those connections unique. What makes them worth fighting for.
It's also why it hurts so much when those same things fall apart.
For some idiot reason, the SyFy channel (nice name change, douchebags) decided not to broadcast the July 4th Twilight Zone marathon this year.
I went looking for it again, but it wasn't there.
No Shatner on the plane. No Billy Mumy setting his neighbors on fire with his mind. No Roscoe from The Dukes of Hazzard marrying a witch. No phone calls when Burgess Meredith goes on trial for being the last man on earth to believe in God. No more suddenly realizing that the guidebook the Aliens gave us called "To Serve Man" was actually a cookbook.
No more Midnight Sun.
I know someone will say that all the episodes are available somewhere on DVD. That it wouldn't take that much time and effort at all to collect and create my own marathon just like the original. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if someone suggested that I find a new show to watch, let things in the past go and move onto something that's actually available and playing now.

Who knows, maybe they're right. There's really no way to know what the future holds. Really no way to live forever in a dream.
Not in this world, at least.

[Listening to:  Namie Amuro - "No" ]


Anonymous said…
My favourite episode is "The Monsters On Maple Street." I love that episode. It's just so frighteningly realistic.

I got my brother the entire series on DVD for Christmas. He loves the show too. That would make this another reason why I am still convinced you and my brother are the same person.
JerseySjov said…
i love me some twilight zone. we don't get "syfy" up at school but my dad and i would watch the crap out of the marathons when i was home.

my former roommate and her girlfriend bought probably 10 TZ dvds a couple years ago when a comic shop near us went out of business.
Bef said…
I can't say what I really want to say here....ugh!

but I can say I remember when the TZ movie was being made and Vic Morrow and another young actor were decapitated and the subsequent trial and stuff....not even sure why I remember that...

but anyway that's about all I can say...