I have no idea how or why my mama let me go see The Graduate in 1967 when it was released. Maybe she didn’t know I saw it. I vaguely remember my friends, Billy and Buddy Bell, seeing it with me. For some reason I think our mom’s were shopping in Macon and dropped us off at the theater.
If I am remembering correctly, we went in to see that movie as 12 and 13 year old boys. We came out as 12 and 13 year old men. I had never been exposed to anything close to what I saw in that movie. My hormones were forever unleashed. The dam broke that day.
With that said, I was in a store recently and picked up a DVD version of that movie. I looked around to be sure nobody was looking at me looking at it. I secretly wondered why they had it out on the shelf for anyone to pick up. You would think this movie could be purchased only from behind the counter. Some things just shouldn’t be on the shelf. I remember when I first got married how awkward it was to go to Leonard’s drug store and purchase condoms. I would walk around the store nonchalantly waiting on Mrs. Corine to go to the back or turn her head so I would whisper to Leonard what I needed.
Now you can buy condoms in most any store. They are right there on the shelf - actually just a few feet from The Graduate.
To make a long story short, I did not buy the condoms but I did end up buying the movie. And I watched it yesterday while everybody else was watching the bad weather come through town.
And to my surprise, I quickly concluded that if The Graduate was released in 2008, it would be rated PG at the worst. You see much more on sitcoms these days. And even more surprising, there is actually a plot in the movie. And a pretty doggoned good one at that. For some reason the plot escaped me 41 years ago.
It is a story about a young guy who has just graduated from college and is trying to escape from being what his parents had predetermined him to become. The parents have absolutely no regard for their son’s wishes or desires. And Benjamin has an affair with a friend of his parents who is trapped in her completely miserable and fake life. There is a line in the movie that tells that story:
I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Are you listening?
Yes, I am.
As I watched Benjamin turn his back on being what his parents wanted him to be and relentlessly pursue real love and life and happiness, I couldn’t help but smile. I was reminded that happiness is surely never found in trying to become what someone else has decided you should become or in doing what someone else has decided you should do.
In reality happiness is only found in being who God created you to be and doing what He created you to do. And happiness for your children is allowing them to do the same. And sometimes that does not match with what others think.
The interesting thing though is the girl Benjamin ended up with was exactly the one his parents wanted him to be with in the first place.
Who would have ever thought that there could be a life lesson in a movie that I thought should be hidden behind the counter.
I missed the lesson in 1967. But I got it clearly in 2008.
Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson.