I never had cable growing up. Let’s be honest, I wasn’t even allowed to watch most TV until 1980 when my parents got divorced. If it wasn’t “educational,” my father wouldn’t let me see it. So I missed all the joys of a 1970s childhood: CHiPs, the Hulk, Charlie’s Angels.
After my parents got divorced, my TV horizons expanded greatly. Dukes of Hazard! Fantasy Island! The Facts of Life! But it wasn’t enough for me.
“Mom, why can’t we get cable? Pretty please! Everyone has it!”
It was the early ‘80s. MTV had just launched. HBO was all the rage. But in our house, 3 channels was evidently enough. (In recent years my mother has relented and now has the deluxe cable package. About 15 years too late for me, thank you very much!)
Thank god for the McGrails. They lived two houses down, and Carrie was my constant companion. Together, we would memorize the HBO schedule for Fast Times at Ridgemont High. As nonchalantly as possible, we would rush downstairs, and in the dark watch as much of it as we could before her father would inevitably discover us, and shoo us away from the forbidden R-rated movie. It was not until I was an adult that I finally saw the entire movie from beginning to end. It is, incidentally, one of my all time favorites.
This is how I saw all the, uh, seminal movies of my early adolescence: Porky’s, Bachelor Party, Risky Business. In secret at the McGrails, or if I was really lucky, while babysitting. But all of it on HBO.
Soon videos came along and replaced the urgency of HBO for my teenage forbidden movie needs. But those folks over at HBO are smart – they had other plans to lure me.
To be continued…