We read S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders in 7th grade Language Arts class. I don’t recall much about how I felt about the book itself — I liked that it was written by a teenage girl and that it featured characters named Ponyboy and Sodapop — but I do remember my life changing substantially when we watched the film adaptation of it.
The movie version of The Outsiders is jam-packed with famous faces: Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, and, most importantly, Patrick Swayze. The moment that man appeared on the screen, I fell totally, hopelessly, and forever in love.
And how can you blame me? Just look at the man! After class, I immediately hung this photo of him in my locker (Patrick remains, by the way, the only man to ever be posted up in my locker — sorry, High School Boyfriend!):
My obsession knew no bounds. I wrote him a 14-page love letter (he never wrote back). I recorded him hosting Saturday Night Live and watched it repeatedly. I spent hours at Village Video, renting any P. Swayze movie I could get my hands on: Ghost, Dirty Dancing, Point Break, even Three Wishes. I actually saw Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights in the theatre. But my favorite Patrick movie is To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of the film, it features Patrick and Wesley Snipes as NYC-based drag queens taking their protégé (played by John Leguizamo) on a road trip to LA to enter a contest for National Drag Queen of the Year. Patrick nailed it. Just watch the opening scene:
He is absolutely flawless. He plays a drag queen so convincingly. Perhaps antithetically, this served to make him even more attractive to me. Not only was the man unfathomably masculine and sexy, a trained ballet dancer, and an accomplished singer-songwriter, but he also was a beautiful woman! His range was limitless.
Anyway, I’m dragging out (pun intended) the point of this post, which is to say that 3 years ago today, Patrick Swayze, love of my life and loins, died. I was in my last semester at Davidson, and came home from class to find more voicemails, missed calls, and text messages than I’ve ever received on any of my birthdays. (Which, by the way, is 17 October. Just saying.) In a misguided attempt to properly mourn his passing, I wore my roommate’s black dress to classes the next day. It wasn’t until I was halfway through my second class that it occurred to me that I was actually wearing my bustier roommate’s rather low-cut cocktail dress. Instead of looking heartbroken and elegiac, I came across as a bit of a tart who didn’t have time to go home and change for her Tuesday classes after a big Monday night out. Not quite the effect I was going for, really. I should have sat Shiva instead.
I haven’t yet found an appropriate way to honor Patrick Swayze’s life. I’ve spent the past few deathdays drinking margaritas, having movie marathons, and wishing Whoopi Goldberg could really channel Patrick Swayze’s spirit. I’m sure tonight will include much of the same. Or maybe I’ll just watch the clay scene from Ghost on loop and cry into my pillow. Ditto, right, you guys?