I was always a very short kid. On top of that, I had a speech impediment. I couldn’t say my R’s. Let me tell you, for a kid who goes by the name Corey, life was proving to be very difficult. Every time I would meet someone new I would start to have a mini panic-attack. My hands would get clammy, my breathing got heavy. Oh, I also have asthma, but that’s beside the point. It was very stressful for a kid. For the longest time, my classmates thought my name was Cowey. I remember being pulled out of recess to go to speech therapy. And nothing is worse for a seven year old than spending your recess time indoors with a elderly woman forcing you to say, “Railroad workers raced to the river.”
Needless to say, I was a dorky looking kid. I always knew that but when I got to fourth grade, I found out it was medically proven. I have vague memories of my parents pulling me out of class to go to the hospital. I had 13 hospital visits in just the first semester of school. Almost every week I would go to the hospital, sit in a bed with a tube hooked up to me, and watch TV on the wall to distract myself from the blood leaving my body. The worst part was my parents never told me why. I mean, I never cared to ask, but in the back of my head I was always curious. Why do they keep bleeding me out like this? Do my parents owe a debt to vampires? Am I part of some cult?- - Oh look, Spongebob!
Finally, I couldn’t take the mystery any longer. I turned off the TV and asked my mom, “Do I have cancer?” My mom’s Spongebob induced smile faded away, “No, honey. It’s not that.” Phew. “Well, what is it?” I asked her. My dad called the doctor in and she told that for the past few months they had been running tests on me, she then explained to me that I have a growth deficiency. Essentially, my body isn’t producing enough growth hormones. The doctors knew it, I was a dork. Not only did this mean that I would remain very short, it also meant that as my organs continued to grow, my bone structure would not. When I asked the doctor what that would be like, she asked me if I had ever put too much play-dough in a mold. Suddenly, my head was full of graphic visions of my intestines exploding from my belly, and my lungs oozing out between my rib-cage. While they explained to me it wasn’t fatal, it would still cause some major problems in my life.
Fortunately, there was a solution. I could give myself growth hormone (basically steroids)! Well sweet, sign me up. I’m ready. How we doing this? Pill? Magic potion? Gonna zap me with a laser? Unfortunately, it came in the worst possible form for a kid. Injection. With a needle. A big needle. A big needle that had to go into my body. Every. Single. Day.
Another downside was that this injection cost $18,000 per year. When my dad first heard the price, he turned me and asked, “So what’s it gonna be? Tall or college? I better be 7 fucking feet tall if I’m paying this much. It worked out though, because my dad worked for the company that made the injections. My dad works in pharmaceuticals, but as a seven year old, I was not able to say such a complex word as farm-uh-sue-tickles. You know, can’t say my R’s. So instead, I would tell people, “My dad’s a drug dealer.” This proved to be quite entertaining. My teacher would awkwardly laugh at what I had told the class and then try to change the topic by saying something like, “Well, good for you. Why don’t we move on to Joshua’s dad. Isn’t he a firefighter?”
His dad was a firefighter. What’s cooler than that? I was already a dork, but now this? I got demoted to the lower ranks along with Ian and his dad who worked at a Denny’s. It didn’t help that I hated sports either. My dad, of course, thought it would be good for me to try a sport. And try, I did. I tried almost every sport known to elementary school children. But once I started the injections, I had an excuse. You see, apparently, steroids are frowned upon in the sports community. And once I found that out, any time I was asked to participate in a team sport, I would just yell, “I take steroids!” It was the perfect out.
So maybe I didn’t play sports and maybe my dad wasn’t a firefighter but he did get me free drugs. Because of that, I was able to be tall and go to college. Too bad since I’ve stopped, I’m only 5’8” and a college dropout.
There’s something magical about going to the movies alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love the company of others. I’m a very social person. It’s just that there’s nothing really like experiencing the magic of the movies by yourself. Aside from the pitiful look you get from the ticket-taker, it’s pretty amazing. There are no distractions, no sharing of food, and, of course, you can stay there as long as you want (or until they kick out). That’s exactly what I was going to do when I heard that the 1982 Spielberg classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was coming to theatres for its 35th anniversary. My roommates were all leaving to go see Blade Runner (a film I have yet to see) and invited me to join them. Of course, when I told them I had plans to go see E.T. alone they gave me the same look I would soon receive from the ticket-taker. So later that night, I stuck a bag of Reese’s Pieces into my pocket and walked into the theatre.
As the lights of theatre 9 faded to the dark and the familiar opening theme echoed from the speakers, I was overcome by a wave of nostalgia. You see, E.T. is, by far, one of my favorite films. There are many reasons why and each time I see it, I come up with a new reason to love it. First off, the story. Yes I know, it’s about an alien and a boy but it’s so much more than that. It’s about friendship, maturity, and (something that went over my head as a young boy) it’s about coping with divorce. Spielberg took a lot of his experiences from his own parents’ divorce and implemented it into Elliot’s life. This brings a sense of reality into such a magical story. Second, the details. Aside from clever advertising (Reese’s Pieces, Coors, and many others), Spielberg also made some essential details with the plot. Take the antagonist for example, he is seen at the beginning of the film and throughout it until the end. The catch, however, is that we never see his face until the last act of the film. We know it’s him because the first time we see him he adjusts a keychain on his belt. Spielberg continues to have this character enter time and time again with the keychain until we recognize him just by hearing the jingle of a set of keys. To me, that’s genius.
I could spend hours telling you more and more reasons why this film means so much to me, instead, I’ll leave you with this. An image of me sitting alone in the theatre. The lights turn back on to reveal me drying my tears (yes, I cried and I’m not afraid to mention it). Let me also acknowledge that this always happens. Every time I see this film, I cry. Sometimes it’s because of the score, sometimes the characters, but the last line of the film never disappoints: “I’ll be right here.” After the employees slowly made their way in the theatre to mop up my tears, I took my cue and made my way out. With the ending theme still whispering in my ear, I couldn’t help but realize this is why I want to make movies.
Whenever an exciting opportunity comes my way, I always ask myself three questions: Will anyone get hurt? Is it illegal? Does it make for a good story? The way I see it, if my answer is no, no, and yes, then count me in. Now, this has thrown me into some pretty intense situations, but, no matter what, I always have a story to tell. I'll give an example:
During my senior year of high school, the big clown scare was going on. Videos had been posted of clowns with knives and mallets chasing people. By some stroke of luck or, most likely, insanity, I got the idea of tweeting a selfie of me with a clown neatly photoshopped in the background.
I know, I'm a genius.
Much to my surprise, the picture spread like wildfire. By sixth period, everyone was talking about it. Unfortunately, I was ordered to the assistant principal's office. As Officer Hill escorted me to the gallows, I contemplated what I had done wrong. No one got hurt, I wasn't breaking any specific law, and I'm pretty sure that this would make for a good story.
I arrived into Mrs. Marring's office and was immediately interrogated. "Where is the clown?" she asked me. She even thought I had hired a clown to come to school. I didn't blame her though, I had done some pretty extravagant pranks before. Apparently, my tweet had resulted in at least 38 calls from concerned parents, a visit from the police department, and the nearby middle school being put on lockdown. At one point, during our thirty-minute court case, she demanded that I delete the tweet. To which I replied, "Did you see how many favorites I got?" Marring ended up letting me off with only a warning. I believe she ended our conversation saying that "only a fool would find that tweet funny." Of course, the rest of the school thought it was hilarious.
Mark Twain once said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." I look back on my high school experience fondly. I think about things I would've done differently and honestly, I wouldn't change a thing. Now I wasn't the star quarterback or homecoming king, but I left my own impression on the school. Even if it was in the form of numerous concerning news stories.
Those three questions have kept me out of a lot of trouble, but they've also gotten me into trouble when I needed to. They've kept me young and I know I'll stay young for quite some time. I also know I'll never run out of a good story to tell. Stories are everywhere, all around us. I believe everyone has the potential to have amazing stories unfold right in front of them. They just have to know where to look.
Before I start telling you this, I feel like I need to clear some things up. In high school, I didn't really attend a lot of parties. If you asked me when I was in school, I would tell you it was by choice, but I'd be lying. Up until the end of senior year, I had never been to a real high school party. Of course, that all changed.
I had just pulled up to the house when my phone buzzed. "U coming man? Its crazy here," texted my friend Ethan (a fictitious name I will use to protect his college education and future employment). I was already three hours late so by the time I walked into the unsupervised house I was clearly the only sober one there. Right past the front door, there was a note taped to the wall that read: "HOUSE RULES 1. No drinks in the dining room 2. Designated hookup rooms are upstairs 3. Don't be a jerk." Seemed pretty straight-forward. As I made my way into the basement, I noticed several things. For one, the carpet was soaking wet from the copious amounts of cheap alcohol spilling all over the floor. Next, I noticed the gracious host of the night (let's call him Jeff) dancing on top of a table whipping his shirt across the room like a dead cat. As all of this is going on, my eyes scanned the room trying to find a friendly face. Which was difficult. Everyone looked like they wanted to hurt me. Luckily, out of this cloud of drunk scowls, came Ethan. Unfortunately, he was already at the peak of his night and going downhill very fast. There we were. One huge, drunk football player and his small, sober friend.
I stood against the wall for a bit. Just taking it all in. That was short lived, of course, when a junior from a neighboring school bumped into me and said, "I'm so messed up right now."
"Well, you're in good company," I said.
What she said next was hard to interpret. "I juss got rinover," she slurred to me.
"Someone just ran over my foot!" she said with a much clearer voice.
I laughed and brushed it off, assuming it was just a joke. She proceeded to show me her foot, which was, in fact, ran over. "Dammit," I yelled. No one noticed. I took the girl upstairs to the kitchen and began to fill a Ziploc bag up with ice. Her foot was already pretty swollen and I figured better late than never. I handed her the homemade ice pack and she throws it back at me.
"You need ice. Your foot is looking bad," I said.
"I don't need ice!" she yelled.
She then took the bag from my hands and threw it across the room. Ice went everywhere and she hobbled quickly down the stairs. "Not my problem," I said to myself. I walked back downstairs to tell Ethan that I was probably going to head out. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy parties. But when you're the one stuck on damage control, you get tired of it real fast. I thought my night was over. What was the point? I was just on my way out until I heard a familiar voice.
I turned around to see (lets call her) Stacy, my high school crush. It was like the clouds parted and heaven's light shone down upon me. I had a reason to stay. "Hey, Corey. Could you help?" Stacy asked. I know I said I hated doing damage control, but for Stacy I would've performed open heart surgery. Turned out, she was also dancing on the table and took quite the tumble. Her elbows both had small cuts on them so I ran as fast as I could, searching for band-aids. I went upstairs to see if there was a medicine cabinet. Boy, was I wrong. The first door I opened just so happened to be one of the "designated hookup rooms." I'll spare the details and let your imagination do the thinking. The next door I found was to a bathroom. There had to band-aids somewhere in there. Luckily for me, there were. But, of course, there was a 30 year old man giving one of my classmates a tattoo. If I remember correctly it was an upside-down cross. Just lovely. I casually squeezed behind the artist and grabbed the bandages. On my way out, I might have bumped into him a bit and that might have made a little smudge in the tattoo but whose to say that was my fault. So I guess it ended up looking more like a question mark then a cross.
I finally got back to Stacy who was patiently bleeding on the couch. As I applied the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles band-aids to her, she broke down crying. "I'm such a bad person."
"Why would you say that?"
"Because I'm drunk and I hurt myself. You're so nice, Corey."
"Don't be mad at yourself. You're fine."
'Okay. I just-I know I won't remember any of this. And we're all going off to school and I'm gonna miss you so much."
"Stacy. You're probably right. You won't remember anything tomorrow. That's why I'm gonna tell you that I've had the biggest crush on you for a while," I said, hoping to God that she wouldn't remember tomorrow. She teared up and started to say something. She was interrupted, however, by a 6'4" college freshman who walked up, said, "sup," then escorted her back downstairs. "Dammit," I said to myself.
I walked to my car silhouetted by the neon glow of a party that should've gotten busted hours ago. I passed a huddle of stoners smoking the smallest joint I had ever seen and then finally got into my car to drive home. On my short drive back, I saw a man wandering in a ditch one and a half miles away from the party. I hesitantly asked him if he needed a ride. He assured me he wouldn't throw up and I figured it'd be my last good deed of the night. His name was Steven and he was a senior at a local college. We talked a lot about school and what not. As he got out of my car, he thanked me for such a great night. "I really appreciate the ride, dude. Tonight was a good night. I think I drove over some chick's foot but other than that an A plus night."