8/14/10

Why I Still Love Chunk (and why I need him right now)

Chunk. The name that can only belong to one person. The master of the truffle shuffle, the most compassionate Goonie, the boy who just needs a Baby Ruth to keep him going when times get tough. But Chunk isn't just Chunk. He's me and I'm him.  

Everyone’s favorite geek was played by Jeff Cohen in 1985’s, The Goonies. Only, Chunk was really an actual geek, almost to the point of being socially dysfunctional. I mean, not that I can relate to that. *Uncomfortable shifting in chair* Nowadays it’s become cool to be a geek, we’ve grown up and taken over, creating our own media, forming clubs, renting out large convention centers…but back in 1985, things were mighty different. Back then, it was only cool to be cool, or at the very least, hip to be a square.

And one of the best things about Chunk was that he saved the day. If it wasn’t for Chunk, the Goonies would’ve died in that cave. He used his love of candy bars and his willingness to befriend an underdog, and he came in like a pirate and rescued everyone. Chunk had the hard road too.  Everyone else was playing with Rube Goldberg inventions, getting first kisses, and sliding down waterslides.  Chunk was getting shoved into freezers with corpses, being threatened with blenders, forced to confess his darkest secrets. Heck, even his darkest secrets were cool to me. I wish I had come up with that "fake vomit over the balcony" prank. Say what you want about Chunk, call him obnoxious, call him a liar, call him overly cautious, but don’t call him a wuss.

I watched The Goonies for the first time at my grandma’s house on cable, an unprecedented two times in a row. We weren’t supposed to do that, but even my parents saw how cool this movie was. It warranted an exception. I wanted to be Mouth, but I knew deep in my heart (and because my older sisters told me so), that I was much more like Chunk. Obnoxious, loud, and prone to hyperbole. 

I recently watched the Goonies one day for, oh I don’t know, the millionth time. I need a dose of Goonies every now and then. Especially when I'm feeling particularly uncool. Not uncool in the traditional sense of the word, more like wondering if I'm a geek deserter, asking myself if I've become a sellout who now works for "the man". (Even though I know in my heart that the answer is "no".) On those days, I wake up, look in the mirror, and wonder to myself how on Earth I ended up as a college professor. Don't they know I'm just like Chunk underneath my Liz Lemon wardrobe and filed nails? Behind all my chatter about being mid-book and editing and freelance and NPR...I'm still totally just a massively insecure geek who finds herself wildly and overly invested in things I shouldn't be, like video games and 80s nostalgia and cartoons. 

I think the world would be a better place if we were all forced to watch, "The Goonies" at least once annually. If we were all forced to remember a time without cell phones, a time when being a kid meant looking for adventures outside and not spending hours with an Xbox (though I'm not "agin" it), and most importantly, a time when shag carpeting was cool? When the radio was everything. When HBO was new. 

I watched it with the commentary this time. And every time I watch it that way, I’m just a touch disappointed. Because Jeff Cohen has grown up to be handsome, successful, and most of all, (gasp) normal. I think in my mind, Chunk and Jeff Cohen just officially have to be two different people. I like to think that Chunk is still running around in Astoria wearing plaid pants, telling whoppers, downing strawberry shakes, and taking care of Sloth. If he's there doing that, then I'm somewhere running around my home town with fluorescent shoe laces and messed up teeth and over-sized glasses, making trouble for my long-suffering older sisters. Not just here in adult-world, worrying about things like getting my hair trimmed and paying my bills on time and polishing a syllabus. A syllabus and hand-outs and a lesson plan. What? Really? I love to teach, almost more than anything in the world, but the artifacts that surround me just serve to remind me that I'm a grown-up, even though I do not feel like one at all. At all. 

I’m still waiting for the sequel. If Indiana Jones can make it out of development hell, than by God, so can the Goonies. We’ve been reading the spec scripts on the internet for years, hearing the rumors, and even Richard Donner himself makes brief reference to it on the film commentary. I say we keep the pressure on, if we can be even half as persistent about a sequel as Chunk was about swearing Janet Jackson came over to use his bathroom, then we’ve got it in the bag. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a Goonies II than a Jurassic Park IV. Because Goonies is the movie for geeks, the sounds and sights of childhood all wrapped up into an hour and a half. If we can be reminded about how much Chunk loved Sloth, then maybe we can remember what it is that we really care about most...whatever that may be. 

Plus, geeks…let’s face it, we never say die...not even when the rent is due and our hair needs to be trimmed.


2 comments:

  1. I recently hooked up the old VCR in my living room, and my 7 year old daughter was thrilled...because she could watch The Goonies again! It was her idea. Totally unsolicited, but of course, encouraged by moi. When she was much smaller and watched it with her big brother, she amused us doing the "shuffle shuffle", as she put it then. So it's true: Goonies never say die. They just grow older and create new generations of Goonies!

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  2. You know, I've thought about sequels to some of my favorite films growing up. I've heard rumors about this and a Heathers sequel, but frankly, I don't want them. Like you said, I'd rather just think he's taking care of Sloth and wearing plaid shorts instead of finding out he's an accountant, is on the brink of divorce with his wife, but reunites with The Goonies for one more adventure and saves the day and his marriage at the same time.

    I loved this post.

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