So I finally finished reading “Something Wicked this Way Comes,” the film version of which I last saw when it made it’s debut on HBO in 1984. I’ve written about that here before. Finishing the book made me sort of upset with myself for not heeding the lessons of the story when I was exposed to it as a young child. Or did I? It’s hard to say, as both Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, both flirted with the temptations of the carnival…giving in here and there. Granted I was a small child, but had I made proper use of the movie’s theme in my time I would have probably made a vast array of different decisions. So I have to wonder…would I have gotten on the Merry Go Round? Am I some sort of 21st century version of the lightning rod salesman turned mad dwarf searching for himself? All I know is that when I saw the movie “Something Wicked This Way Comes” as a kid, it terrified me and always stayed with me. But I wish I had paid more attention. But I did not make all the bad decisions. So perhaps I’m like the half-bad Charles Holloway, who gives the defining monologue:
“Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles & smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he’s covering up. He’s had his fun & he’s guilty. And all men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors & smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit appetites. Hear a man too loudly praising others & look to wonder if he didn’t just get up from the sty. On the other hand, that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt & sin, why, often that’s your good man with a capital G, Will. For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it & sometimes break in two. I’ve known a few. You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog. I suppose it’s thinking about trying to be good makes the crack run up the wall one night. A man with high standards, too, the least hair falls on him sometimes wilts his spine. He can’t let himself alone, won’t let himself off the hook if he falls just a breath from grace.
Oh, it would be lovely if you could just be fine, act fine, not think of it all the time. But it’s hard, right? with the last piece of lemon cake waiting in the icebox, middle of the night, not yours, but you lie awake in a hot sweat for it, eh? do I need tell you? Or a hot spring day, noon, and there you are chained to your school desk and away off there goes the river, cool and fresh over the rock fall. Boys can hear clear water like that miles away. So, minute by minute, hour by hour, a lifetime, it never ends, never stops, you got the choice this second, now this next, and the next after that, be good, be bad, that’s what the clock ticks, that’s what it says in the ticks. Run swim, or stay hot, run eat or lie hungry.So you stay, but once stayed, Will, you know the secret, don’t you? don’t think of the river again. Or the cake. Because if you do, you’ll go crazy. Add up all the rivers never swum in, cakes never eaten, and by the time you’re my age, Will, it’s a lot missed out on. But then you console yourself, thinking, the more times in, the more times possibly drowned, or choked on lemon frosting. But then, through plain dumb cowardice, I guess, maybe you hold off from too much, wait, play it safe.”
“Too late I found you can’t wait to become perfect, you’ve got to get fall down and get up with everybody else. So at last I looked up from my great self wrestling match one night when your mother came to the library for a book and got me instead.And I saw then and there that you take a man half-bad and a woman half-bad and put their two good halves together, and you got one human all good to share between.”
So I’ve been looking for this movie on DVD but can’t find it anywhere locally. So I’m going to have to probably have to order it from Amazon. Funny thing is, I still have a copy of it on Beta, which was recorded probably the last time that I ever saw it. That same tape also had the movie “Splash,” literally a fish out of water romantic comedy with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah(as a mermaid) recorded on it…and always I had to be extremely careful to fast forward and rewind it in a way so that I would never accidentally land and push play on part of “Something Wicked This Way Comes” as I would scare myself silly.
Why can’t I remember the name of the monopoly-like boardgame my grandma and I bought at a rummage sale and played while we watched Something Wicked This Way Comes on HBO one afternoon in 1984. I have never seen that game anywhere since.