“First Blood” with Grandpa

Ah I remember it like it was yesterday!! It was Christmas 1982 and I had to babysit my maternal grandfather, aka Grandpa. He was not the nicest of men and he did get on my mother’s nerves (and that is putting it mildly). So to help mom out I took Grandpa out for a ride in our Honda Civic. Loved that car; it was a stick shift.

It was cold and grey outside and there was snow and frost on the ground. I was going to keep Grandpa with me as long as I could – so what to do? Then I remembered! First Blood was in the movie theater! No one wanted to see it with me. I had the same problem with The Terminator – See Review. However the Universe had offered me the PERFECT opportunity! I would give my mother a few hours respite, give myself a celluloid treat, and take Grandpa to see First Blood! I figured it would be no problem as Grandpa NEVER stayed awake during a movie. Or TV, come to think of it. No matter where he was or what the movie was about, five minutes after the opening credits Grandpa would be sound asleep, head thrown back, mouth open, deeply asleep and good luck waking him. GREAT! I wouldn’t have to explain the movie to him or to mom as to why I took him. He would sleep and I could finally see this movie.

So into the theater we went! It was nearly empty as it was Christmas Break and  in a college town that equals ghost town. I got our tickets, Grandpa and I sat down in our seats, and the movie started.

Then something really weird happened: Grandpa wasn’t going to sleep.

What?! This man slept through EVERYTHING! But he was wide awake, head up, alert with a smile on his face. I leaned over and asked if he was enjoying it. Oh yes! Grandpa informed me, this is a great movie. After all, Sylvester Stallone is ITALIAN!

Ah ha! The reason!

See my Grandpa’s name was Felix Garbarini and he was 100% Italian from the outskirts of Genoa, Italy. He immigrated to the U.S. in the ’20s, worked as a waiter and tenant house owner, and basically lived the American Dream. So here on the BIG SCREEN was a fine Italian man of physical power carrying a movie,  kicking butt and taking names. Plus he was acting! (Yes he was. If you don’t believe me go watch it!) Grandpa LOVED it! He talked non-stop on the way home about Stallone’s power and presence. I totally agreed with – I mean it was true. The movie was very good and Stallone did a great job as Rambo. First Blood proved he could do other things with skill besides Rocky. We came home smiling, Grandpa went to bed, and mom got her much needed rest. It was a good night.

So Mr. Stallone, thank you. That was the best night I spent with my Grandpa and First Blood is a mighty fine film. Oh and although he has passed, Grandpa is a fan too.

LINKS:

First Blood movie poster

“First Blood” movie poster from 1982.

Italian flag graphic.

The Italian flag in honor of Grandpa.

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