Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sooner or Later (Favorite Book Spotlight)

It all started with years ago, with a little known TV-movie from 1979 starring Rex Smith and Denise Miller called—It also starred some, I would assume, pretty big names at the time- Judd Hirsch, Barbara Feldon, Morey Amsterdam, Lynn Redgrave.

I didn't discover this movie until I was probably 15 or 16, well into the late 80s, early 90s. I had a weakness for old B-movies and used to stay up and watch them on USA's Up All Night with Rhonda Shear or Gilbert Gottfried on Friday and Saturday nights. Sometimes I could even find a hidden gems on WGN at that time of night, as well. There were so many cheesy movies I discovered, like Getting Lucky, The Girl I Want, and Summer Job to name a few. The one that stuck out- Sooner or Later.

Thirteen-year-old Jessie falls for seventeen-year-old Michael after she sees him and his band performing at the mall in Lodi, New Jersey, the same day she had a beauty make-over while out with her best friend Caroline. She never expects to see him again, but when she decides to take guitar lessons---he turns out to be the instructor assigned to her. When Michael doesn't recognize her, she realizes it must have something to do with the fact that she wasn't wearing make-up to her guitar lessons like she was the day they made eye contact while he was performing, so she starts sneaking around and wearing it and Michael starts noticing.

Of course, Jessie loves the attention, but when Michael's interest grows, she lies and tells him she's 16 and soon the lies pile high as she creates more convoluted explanations for why he's never seen her at school, etc. Of course, things become more & more complicated and her best friend advises her that "Older boys aren't like younger boys, they're like men, only younger."

In the process of guitar lessons, she also goes with Michael to band practice one afternoon and discovers he's written a song called "Simply Jessie" just for her, and it's made up partly of the chords he's been teaching her.

Afterward, she agrees to a date at the drive-in on a night she knows her parents are going out of town to a wedding and will be gone late. The heartache erupts when Michael tries to put the moves on her and she bursts into tears, the truth comes out and he takes her home. Of course, the matter remained, could Michael forgive her for lying to him? Does love conquer all, even age?

As cheesy as it is, I bawled and bawled through that movie every time I watch it, so glad that there was a happy ending but then, I wanted to own the movie. It was one of those rare wonderful guilty-pleasure films that made me want to come back over and over again. It didn't hurt that I thought Rex Smith was just a dream and the fact that the majority of the soundtrack was sung by HIM, just made me love it even more.

We had a VCR, but I didn't record it that night and it wasn't like we had a home computer where I could go look it up and find out more, but I kept thinking about it a LOT though and then it happened~

It wasn't but a few days after I watched that movie on WGN that I went to Rite-Aid to look at magazines and they had one of those swivel wire book rack, so I thought I'd just check out what kind of books they had to offer. Usually they had very little, other than when a new V.C. Andrews book came out and I would purchase it there. I consider it Kismet, fate, what-have-you— but this is what I found-

On that rack I noticed first one- Sooner or Later and then I realized, wait, the same/similar girl on the cover of these other two books, so I pick them up and read the blurbs and already my heart was pounding and I was nearly ready to squeal right there in the middle of aisle. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks- I didn't have enough money to buy all three, and those were the ONLY copies.

Old as I was, I went home and begged my dad to advance me my allowance so I could purchase them before they were gone. And so I did. I cried when I opened the first book, content that I could not only read the story, almost just like it played out in the movie, but Waiting Games and Now or Never chronicled MORE of Jessie and Michael's story. Still, I longed for the movie.

My parents tried to get it at a video store, but when asked, it turned out they had one copy, but the owner wouldn't take less than $75 for it because it was such a rare movie. (I've had that kind of bad luck a lot over favorite old movies.) He offered to order my dad a brand new copy for upwards of $90, but that wasn't happening. My mom found out when it was on and recorded it for me one year and gave it to me as a Christmas present. Several years later, I was dating this guy and we went to that same video store and they still had that copy of it. I ask the girl at the counter about it and she called the owner, who agreed over the phone to sell it to me for $10. I was utterly blown away.

Of course, a couple of years ago, when all the VCRs in our house started to eat tapes and die of magnetic poisoning, I ordered a copy on DVD for just under $20. I haven't watched it in a while, but, just like my copies of the books are there to read, it's there to watch whenever I want to.

*a side note- Bruce Hart, along with his wife Carole, wrote these books together. Bruce is also most famous for having composed the lyrics to Sesame Street.

So, what are some of your favorite books that came to you in an unusual way?
Have you ever discovered a great book simply by accident?
Or is it possible that all the pieces fell in place at just the right time for you to stumble upon it?

Please come share your favorites!

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