I was twelve years old and I just had finished my elementary school. It was Friday, June 23rd, 1989. I can say that I was a little downhearted to leave this institution. I had completed all my school years from kindergarten till grade six in this wonderful school filled with great classmates, staff and great teachers. I was about to start high school in about ten weeks. It was time to say goodbye. I looked at my digital Casio watch. It read 12:23 PM. I took a last glance at this great building from the schoolyard.
I was waiting for my sisters to come out from their classrooms. Both younger than me. It was my role as the big brother to make sure we all got home safe. While I was waiting for my siblings, I was chatting about my summer plans with my buddies and if we are going to meet up during our summer vacation. Back then, no cell phones, no Internet, no Facebook and no Messenger. We had exchanged our numbers. That is our landline numbers. I never really enjoyed calling one of my friends because most of the time I would get the parent and then the questioning would start.
My closest friends by the time I was done with elementary were Paulo, Tin, Jung, Emanuel and Shih-Ming. Some of them I had known since kindergarten.
My sisters were arriving, walking slowly, giggling, and talking to their friends on the way down on the stairs. By the time they got to me, I still had time to hang out with my buddies. Paulo was one of the few that had started going to the movies since he was ten. Of course, kid’s movies only, unless he snuck in to another cinema hall where another movie was playing. He had done that a few times. Sometimes, he had regretted. The horror movies he saw and he would have sleepless nights. That was Paulo.
As Paulo was talking about the new movies out on that day, there was one, that as little boys, we will never forget. The promo and trailer were broadcast several times on tv. It was Batman, with Michael Keaton in the title role and Jack Nicholson as the villain. We did not want to miss this movie. We voted that we would all go see the movie today, in the afternoon. Maybe the show between 3 and 5 PM.
In my mind, back then, I was stressed and nervous. I had said yes but I had not gotten the permission from my parents yet. I am not even sure if my buddies were in the same situation as me, or pretending that it was all cool and that they were sure their parents were going to let them go out to return home in late afternoon.
My sisters were now standing beside me. I see coming on our way Helena, Sandra and Gracinda. These three girls, were always together. They were close friends. Back then, oh boy, I was a shy boy. I could perhaps fight off a bully but to talk to a girl was so extremely life-threatening experience for me. Especially if that girl was kind, smart and pretty. Then, I was pretty much a goner. These girls were in my class and my personal favorite and crush, you can say, was Helena. A sweet Portuguese girl. This is a secret that I had never mentioned to anyone at school and I never really showed any obvious signs about my feelings towards her.
In the group of boys, I was hanging out with, definitely, I was feeble. Jung, who was the most outgoing one. Jung had the audacity to do what? Your guess is right. He proposed the girls if they would come along with us to the movies. Just when those words came out of the mouth of Jung, I was shaking…in my mind. I was camouflaging to the best of my ability to not show any signs of nervousness.
After a good ten minutes of discussing where and when we would meet, we finally departed. I was holding my sister’s hand. She was six. My other sister was two years younger than me so she was more independent.
Once I was home, my goal was to talk about this late afternoon outing that my friends had planned. I knew that if I was not going to show up at the time and location, I will look like a fool. And…what will Helena think of me? At that age, these little details matter a lot. Today, as a grown-up adult…no. You can laugh about it.
After lunch, I was able to convince my parents about me going out to the movies with my friends. Summer just had begun astronomically on June 21st. I remember telling my mom, she was always more worried than my dad, that the sun will set around 8:45 PM and that I will be home before that. She agreed to that for this time only, that I can go out and return late. It was the first day of summer vacation. Well, not even, we had school that day. You get my point. End of school coincides almost with the beginning of summer. It is special and we can enjoy the longest days of the year here, in the Northern Hemisphere.
I was ready to leave the house and my mom had given me the money for public transit, the movie ticket, food and beverage. I was so happy when I left the house around 3:30 PM. The movie was starting at 5 PM. I had plenty of time to get there and returning home was not going to be a hassle.
I still have this vivid memory when we all go there in front of the theater. Helena wearing this red skirt with red shoes. At that moment, during those days, I doubt she knew that I was going gaga over her.
Once we greeted all each other, we went in, bought our tickets and proceeded to the concession stand to get beverages and food. For me, buttered popcorn with a Coca-Cola. Today, I rarely drink Coke, but as a kid, it was my favorite soft drink.
We got earlier, even fifteen minutes before the previews, to be sure we get good seats. We almost took up half of a row. I recall, it took a good two minutes to figure out, who was sitting beside whom. In my little brain of a 12-year-old, I wanted to sit beside Helena but also, I was trembling inside like leaf. Finally, I was sitting between Helena and Tin.
During the whole movie, I was so stressed. I think it was the first time I was watching a movie beside a girl. When you have some feeling for such a girl, then these moments are precious and tense. I remember one specific moment is when Jack Nicholson falls into the chemicals; the birth of the Joker. Helena grabbed and squeezed my arm. Then she looked at me and said sorry. I remember politely saying that it was all good. Then ask when she wanted some of my popcorn. She agreed and smiled at me.
That night was a special night. I will never forget it. It was like…sort of…a prom night for the class of 1989 of my elementary school.
I did make home back on time and my parents were happy that I respected their curfew. I felt like a responsible young teenager.
Today, when I watch a movie, at home or in theater, Helena still squeezes my arms or my hands when she is witnessing a tense scene. The difference today, I put my arm around her to recomfort her and smile back at her.