It was right about now, exactly two decades ago, that I pulled on my Tom Servo “I’M HUGE” T-shirt and strolled from my apartment over to Strosacker Auditorium for the CWRU Film Society’s screening of MST3K: The Movie. I’d gotten the evening off from my tech crew duties on Schoolhouse Rock Live! at the Beck Center so that I could catch the movie in a theater again, having been one of the few who’d seen it during its initial theatrical run. To say I was looking forward to it was an understatement. I’d been a fan ever since my high school best friend, Dave, had introduced me to it with a VHS copy of the “Rocketship X-M” episode. The first HTML document I ever marked up was a copy of the MST3K Episode Guide I’d found on Usenet.
I was a staff member of the Film Society, as well as of the university — at that point I was just over a couple of years into being the campus Webmaster and, more or less coincidentally, not quite a couple of years into being divorced. The Film Society was a fun way to pass weekend nights in good company, contribute to a collective effort, and get to see a bunch of movies. So when I pushed through the glass lobby doors, I looked around to see what needed to be done. The ticket counter was already staffed by a couple of people, neither of whom I’d ever seen before. Which was to be expected, a month into the fall semester. We always picked up a few new members as incoming students got adjusted to campus life and looked for stuff to do. I clearly remember one of them, a laughing girl with short-ish curly hair and a unique clothing style.
I remember because later that evening, after I’d seen the movie and was manning the concession stand for one of the later shows, she wandered over to see if I needed any help, then stayed to flirt. For once in my life, I smoothly responded in kind. We kept up the good-natured banter throughout the evening, peppering it with sharp looks and sardonic grins. As things were winding down on the last show, just as I was opening my mouth to ask her if she’d like me to walk her home, she asked me if I’d like to walk her home.
And that’s how Kat and I met, twenty years ago tonight.
Anyone who knew either of us well would never have pegged the other as a likely match. She wasn’t even an MST3K fan: she’d come to Film Society that night, a month into her graduate school studies, to join up and thus have a group to hang out with, and hadn’t even really looked at the schedule first. We had wildly different tastes in music, art, food, recreation, even basic relationship expectations. And yet, somehow, one way or another, with a lot of work and a lot of luck, it’s worked out.
In the time since, we’ve had experiences more amazing and suffered more deeply than either of us could have imagined, as we traded tidbits of information and innuendo over an array of candy bars that balmy September evening. We’ve each shown strength neither of us would have imagined in ourselves. I think we also bring out the best in each other, and that too is a kind of strength.
Two decades. Hard to believe, sometimes, but we did it…and, as Crow might say, I’d do it again if I had to.
Thank you, Kat.