Life Happens:Thirty years? Inconceivable

By Jeff Gates - For The Madison Press

Revisiting a wish come true.

Many things were happening in 1987.

In the world of music, U2 had just released their classic album (for the youngsters in the crowd, an album is a big round disc that went on a machine called a record player) “The Joshua Tree.”

On television, a family of yellow clay-like characters made their debut as a snippet in “The Tracey Ullman Show.” From that point on, ‘eat my shorts’ became part of the American vernacular.

The political world was still mesmerized by charismatic United States President Ronald Reagan as he appealed to the humanitarian sensibilities of the Soviet leader as it pertained to the physical divider in Berlin as he famously challenged Mr. Gorbachev to ‘tear down that wall.’

Barriers in the entertainment world came tumbling down as well as we lost arts icons such as Fred Astaire, Jackie Gleason, and Liberace. It was also the year that claimed Ohio State legendary coach Woody Hayes.

Maria Von Trapp, the woman’s whose life and her family’s were the subjects of the classic musical “The Sound of Music,” passed away.

Joining the world that year were future athletic stars Maria Sharapova and Tim Tebow — two individuals who have captured the hearts of people both on and off their field of play.

Two other individuals who have been fascinating to me over the years have been Mandy Patinkin and Andre Roussimoff.

The former I was fortunate enough to see on Broadway in the lead male role in my favorite musical, “Evita.” As a high school student, I was quickly-drawn by Patinkin’s Che character — the storyteller. His commanding performance has been one of several reasons I have immersed myself into a number of different areas within the theatrical realm for close to four decades.

Regarding the latter, when I was in college I went to my one and only Professional Wrestling event. Clad in Hawaiian shirts in honor of Special Delivery Jones, my friends and I were there to watch — up close — the likes of Junkyard Dog, Hillbilly Jim, and most of all Andre the Giant.

My memory has never been the greatest, but I have cherished that great night in the mid-1980s. Not only the spectacle of the event itself, but what happened as we were leaving.

Wanting to miss the mass exodus at the conclusion of the matches, my friends and I snuck out early to an alley behind the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. We spotted what we initially thought were an adult male and two small children. To our amazement and delight we soon found out it was The Giant and a pair of wresting colleagues.

(Much) Larger than life, I became even more enthralled with Andre after that point.

So just a few years later I was thrilled to see a movie come out that not only starred my favorite Broadway actor, but the enormous grappler who captured my imagination.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of “The Princess Bride.”

According to local ‘expert’ on the subject, Zahid Siddiqi (whose fantasy football team bears the name of Andre’s character — Fezzik), ‘it’s a movie that suits various groups and tastes — it has action, romance and comedy.’

It boasts a myriad of memorable characters from the infatuation-driven Wesley to Inigo’s obsessive quest to avenge his father’s murder (using the same melodic patter each time) to the charming accent of the Justice of the Peace to the most lovable of all; Fezzik.

And why has it stood the test of time (the older you get, the faster 30 years flies by)?

It is because the themes are as relatable now as they were in the late 1980s — friendships develop under the strangest circumstances, overcoming obstacles, opposites attract, the challenges that go along with making some life-altering decisions, give stories a chance to develop before you formulate your opinion, comedy relief can be injected into almost any situation, and probably most importantly, rarely is their anything that can stand in the way of the wish for (and pursuit of) true love.

Over the years it has been popular to proclaim that ‘everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.’

I profess the same can be said of “The Princess Bride.” For its anniversary, watch it for the first time (or the 101st) and see if that is more true than not.

It would be inconceivable if you wouldn’t ultimately agree. (I’m not sure if I know what that word means.)

By Jeff Gates

For The Madison Press

Jeff Gates has been a free-lance writer for The Madison Press since 1996. His weekly column ‘Life Happens’ will appear is Saturdays’ editions of The Madison Press.

Jeff Gates has been a free-lance writer for The Madison Press since 1996. His weekly column ‘Life Happens’ will appear is Saturdays’ editions of The Madison Press.