I grew up in Calgary, but spent large chunks of my summer vacation visiting relatives in Estevan, Saskatchewan. During those summers, I was allowed freedoms I never would have had in the city, and one of those freedoms was the ability to go to the movies with my cousins and older brother, unaccompanied by adults. Unlike the city with its giant multiplexes and summer blockbusters that ran all summer long, Estevan had one movie theatre – largely celebrated for its air conditioning – that played one movie for a set number of days, then switched to the next movie. If you wanted to see a particular movie, you had to see it during its short run, and in the summer of 1986 I walked over to the theatre to see Top Gun.
It was a coming-of-age experience, and to this day, it remains one of my favourite movies. I remember every single detail about that night: I was wearing light blue high-waisted jeans, despite the heat (did I mention the air conditioning in the theatre? Hell freezing over.), a pale pink tie-dyed short-sleeved sweatshirt a la Flashdance, and my short, Papa-Don’t-Preach haircut that was fashionably messy. After viewing the movie, I took to wearing sweaters tied by the sleeves around my neck, I grew my hair out to a fluffy, just-below-the-ear style like Kelly McGillis, and I desperately wanted to be serenaded in a bar, one day, when I grew up.
Digression: dreams do come true. At my recent 40th birthday party, one of my husband’s friends borrowed my husband’s Top Gun aviator costume (What? Doesn’t everyone have a Top Gun aviator costume hanging in their front closet?) and instigated a You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling serenade in my kitchen. All of my husband’s friends sang along and they are now my favourite people in the whole world. This was my face when the singing started:
In related news, I want to invite that group of guys to every single party until the end of time.
But back to Top Gun! How I loved that movie, then and now. How I developed a crush on Ice – “Cold as ice, that’s how he flies, no mistakes.” – how it started my deep love of Otis Redding, how I wished I could learn to play Great Balls of Fire on the piano. That movie is perfection: action, romance, great scenery. It’s Tom Cruise before he went off the deep end, it’s Val Kilmer before he went to pot, it’s Anthony Edwards before he was on ER, and it was Meg Ryan, adorable, sweet, Meg Ryan. It was moustaches and military and a gratuitous, sweaty, beach volleyball scene. Who plays volleyball in jeans and nothing else? Who cares? It’s perfect. Who shows up to a woman’s house, late for dinner, sweaty and gross from playing beach volleyball in jeans and nothing else, then asks to take a shower? Who cares?
But Top Gun is more than just a perfect movie. There are many life lessons to be taken from it.
Life Lessons From Top Gun
1) Never Fire Unless Fired Upon
The world is not out to get you, so stop believing the worst of people. Believe that people are inherently good and treat everyone with loving kindness, unless they are total mean jerks. Then you have permission to fire.
2) Hey Goose, You Big Stud, Take Me To Bed Or Lose Me Forever
The busyness of everyday life can take a toll on your libido, but make time for sexual intimacy. It is very important to have that connection with your partner – a loving sexual relationship can make a partnership long-lasting.
3) Son, Your Ego Is Writing Cheques Your Body Can’t Cash
Letting go of ego is difficult but good for your soul; rather than feed an inflated sense of self, come face-to-face with reality. Remember pride goes before a fall.
4) And You, Asshole, You’re Lucky To Be Here!
We are all lucky to be here. Every day on Earth is a good day; embrace your luckiness and count your blessings.
5) Talk To Me, Goose.
Cultivate the art of conversation, and remember to listen as well.
6) Are You A Good Pilot?
I Can Hold My Own.
Good, Then I Don’t Have To Worry About You Making Your Living As A Singer.
Making a living in the arts is very difficult; it’s a good idea to have something to fall back upon in case your dream of becoming a famous singer/ actor/ artist does not pan out.
7) Hey Slider, You Stink. Take A Shower.
Never underestimate the importance of personal hygiene.
8) You’re Everyone’s Problem. That’s Because Every Time You Go Up In The Air, You’re Unsafe. I Don’t Like You Because You’re Dangerous.
Safety is of utmost importance. When we live in a society, we are all responsible for making good decisions that take the safety and well-being of our fellow citizens into consideration.
9) She’s Lost That Loving Feeling.
10) You Can Be My Wingman Anytime.
Bullshit. You Can Be Mine.
People with whom you have an adversarial relationship can, in time, become people that you can trust and rely on if you show them that YOU can be trusted and relied upon.