Thursday, June 5, 2008
We'll call this "The Ralph Macchio Syndrome"
There is a phenomenon that I've noticed over the years that I've never seen or heard mentioned in a magazine article or on a television program. But personal experience tells me that it exists, and that it occurs with a lot more frequency than anyone probably realizes. It's the Ralph Macchio Syndrome. The Ralph Macchio Syndrome occurs when you revisit something that you haven't done, or eaten, or heard, or seen, in a long time. And your memories of that something are pristine...perfect...fond. So you obviously look forward to revisit it, only to find that it's not even close to having the same level of quality the second time around as your mind remembers it initially having. That was a confusing sentence. Let me give examples to help explain the phenomenon. MOVIES....I've always been a movie fanatic. From the time I saw my first movie("Pete's Dragon, 1977, Oxmoor Mall) to the last movie I actually watched("Coach Carter", Monday, TERRIBLE), I have always enjoyed film. Movies have always had a special way of communicating with me, moreso than music or books, etc. And the 1980's, when I was a kid growing up with HBO, was a golden era of film for me. Two of the films that I remember LOVING as a kid in the 1980's were "The Outsiders", based on the novel of the same name by S.E. Hinton, and "The Karate Kid", probably NOT based on a novel by S.E. Hinton. Both starred Ralph Macchio. Hence the name. Sorry Ralph. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have just as easily been the Molly Ringwald Syndrome, or the Don Knotts Syndrome. It just happened to be you. Keep your head up. In the past few months, both movies have aired on cable channels, and I've caught them both, hoping to get caught up in a lovely wave of film nostalgia. Didn't happen. "The Outsiders", which I loved so much as a pre-teen and teen, now comes across as completely over-the-top, with terrible acting and some horrible song called "Stay Gold" that sounds like it's being sung by Anne Murray after she's eaten about 17 pancakes. I ALMOST didn't make it through the whole film. But I realized that one of my childhood celebrity crushes, Diane Lane, was in that film. And that allowed me to persevere all the way through the movie. Diane Lane...Diane Lane....Diane Lane... I digress. "The Karate Kid" was less of a letdown, but a letdown nonetheless. I remember it coming to Cynthiana, Kentucky in the summer of 1984, playing for something like three weeks straight at Studio Cinema(home of rats, broken seats, and gum on the floors that simply got painted over). I remember there LITERALLY being a line around the block to get into that movie. What a crowd-pleaser. And it's still a crowd-pleaser. I still got goosebumps when Daniel finally "gets" what Mr. Miyagi has been teaching him about karate. My adrenaline still pumps when Daniel uses that stupid crane move to beat Johnny Lawrence in the finals of the All Valley Karate Tournament(sorry that gave away the ending, but you've now had 24 years to see the movie, so that's YOUR fault). By the way, how in the world does a stud like Johnny Lawrence of the Cobra Kai dojo get beat by THAT ridiculous move? Seriously, dude...just step off to the side, or duck, or something...LaRusso totally telegraphed that. So it's still a FUN movie to watch, even if it's no longer, in my opinion, a GOOD movie. The dialogue was awful, especially the teenagers, and the fight scenes don't look realistic. Another example of a movie that I revered as a kid, just not being as good the second time around. FOOD...There are certain foods that I USED to think were delicioso, but upon further review...no to this. For instance, when I was a 12-year-old ALL-STAR for the Lions Club team in Cynthiana Little League, my training table consisted of a healthy stream of Funyuns, Big League Chew, and Clearly Canadian(we were all trying to look older). In the past few years, I've re-tried each of these, just for kicks. All I'll say is, I'd rather watch Anne Murray eat 17 pancakes than partake of any of that stuff ever again. Years ago, I lived near Cleveland, Ohio. And I'd go to Indians games. *We interrupt this blog post to bring you this article from ESPN.com. Makes me swell with pride to be an Indians fan. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=beernight/080604&sportCat=mlb&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab5pos1 *Back to the blog* At Indians games, they served this special brown mustard at the stadium concession stands. And they gave it the most creative of names..."Stadium Mustard". And I loved it. And they sold it at my local Giant Eagle(that was the name of our grocery chain...Giant Eagle. Makes no sense whatsoever. Would YOU feel comfortable doing your grocery shopping at a place called "Enormous Rhino"?). So I'd buy it and use it at home. Years went by, and I eventually ended up in central Kentucky, where they do not sell Stadium Mustard. And my wife's brother marries a girl from NE Ohio, and one day, in speaking with her dad and step-mom, I casually mentioned that I used to love me some Stadium Mustard, and I missed it, because you can't find it at Kroger(which is such a better name for a grocery). A few months later, voila....she brings me a bottle of Stadium Mustard. And I was ecstatic. And I went home. And I made a hamburger. And I put said mustard on said hamburger. And.... It was awful. Just awful. How awful? Imagine making a puree of Funyuns, Big League Chew, and Clearly Canadian, and then pouring that over a grilled piece of enormous rhino. That's how bad it was. Another example of the Ralph Macchio Syndrome. Just not as good the second time around. WOMEN...actually, this only happened once, but I thought that if I just put "WOMAN" for this heading, I'd sound like Animal from "The Muppets". So when I was in college, there was an art gallery at the local mall(because that's the OBVIOUS place for a fine art gallery). And one day I was at the mall by myself, and wandered in there to look around. As I turned to leave, I saw her. And she was magnificent. Striking. Stunning. I'll put it this way....if Diane Lane was wearing 1994 clothing, and working in an art gallery in a mall, this would have been comparable. This girl was the Diane Lane of mall art gallery cashiers. So being the STUD that I am, I scooted on out of there without making any eye contact. And I went back to campus and told the one guy who I thought would appreciate such a story...my friend Rob. He was intrigued. We went back two days later. I peeked in the store from the outside, and could tell that she was working. So we walked in. This time, I made eye contact. But this time, it wasn't Diane Lane of the mall art gallery world. Something was different. She was pretty, sure, but not striking. Not stunning. Not as magnificent as I remembered from only two days before. This time, she was the Anne Murray of the mall art gallery world. And she could have been eating pancakes right there at the register, for all I knew. I felt so awkward. Not only was she not the supermodel I had remembered her being, but now I'd dragged Rob to another county to take a gander at her. I was ashamed. I knew he was questioning my judgment. It was a quiet ride home. I just finished eating lunch here at work(still on lunch, by the way...NOT doing this on company time). During my lunch, I read another chapter of a book I'm working my way through, "Vintage Jesus" by Mark Driscoll. And I was struck by how, whenever I read about Jesus...not about ministry, or about church, but about JESUS, that He is just as intriguing, just as exhilarating, just as perfect, as He was when I first truly encountered Him as a kid. I'm now a 33-year-old married father of a kid-and-a-half, and every single circumstance has changed in my life from when I first truly met Jesus. And yet, He's exactly the same. He still elicits the same love, same excitement, same passion, because He's EXACTLY the same. When He doesn't bring about those emotions, that commitment, it's not His fault, it's mine. Because I change...I'm inconsistent...I let other things cloud my realization of who HE is. But when I remove distractions, and simply approach Him, the experience is the same. When the Bible says that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, THAT'S what it means. Jesus is far more Diane Lane than Ralph Macchio....or Anne Murray, for that matter.