I was ten years old when my parents took me to see Cabaret. It was at a movie theater that we had not been to before, the Hiway Theater, in Jenkintown, PA. I remember it being a long drive from our house.
I remember the movie, and I remember being scared when I saw the swastikas and the Nazis. When the movie was over, I was afraid to go out of the movie theater, because I thought the Nazis were going to get me.
When we exited the theater, it was pouring rain with lightning and thunder. As we were hastily rushing back to the car, lightning struck the ground, with an extremely loud CLAP, just a few inches from where I was standing. That was the scariest moment in my young life. If I had been a few inches in front of where I was standing, I would have literally been toast. Well, not literally. Literally, I would have been charred flesh. But it sounds better than saying I would have metaphorically been toast.
It was a long ride home in the rain. I remember walking into our nice warm house and feeling safe. Actually, it wasn’t a house. It was the second story of a duplex. But, it felt like a house to me.
That was a traumatic evening, and I still have a queasy feeling when I even see the name of the movie. I’ve never rewatched it. Some friends were listing their favorite musicals today on a Facebook post, and Cabaret came up a few times. And it brought back this memory.
As with traumatic events, I remember details of that night after we got home. We watched a baseball game on TV. Steve Carlton was pitching for the Phillies, and he won his 15th consecutive game, which was also his 20th win of the season. He went on to win 27 games that year, and the Cy Young Award, in a year when the Phillies as a team had a record of 59-97 in a strike-shortened season. This is a digression from my story, but an extraordinary feat that deserves to be remembered.
After the baseball game was over, we watched an old black and white movie called “The Bad Seed”, which was on the late late show. In the movie, an eight-year-old girl named Rhoda, played by Patty McCormack, murdered one of her classmates by kicking him in the head with the metal taps on her tap dancing shoes, and then drowning him. She did this because he won a medal for penmanship that she believed she deserved. Near the end of the movie, Rhoda’s mother threw the medal in the lake. Rhoda went to the lake to retrieve the medal, and she was struck by lightning and killed.
I remember that night like it was yesterday. But I don’t remember what I had for breakfast today. Actually, I do remember what I had for breakfast today. I had a protein shake. Hey, breakfast was only a few hours ago, people!