Chez Songbird


It's Thursday morning, and my videos are overdue. This is not shocking. I am a famous video store late-returner. This is why I rarely use the video store anymore, now that there are other options. But over the weekend, Snowman expressed an interest in seeing some Hitchcock movies, mostly to listen to the scores by Bernard Hermann. We went into town, to the video store so familiar that its phone number is still burned into my brain from the long past day when they delivered movies right to my door.

Imagine it. The Hitchcock movies were only available on VHS.

"Do we still *have* a VCR?"

Yes, yes we do. It's not much of a VCR, but we have movies from an even longer ago day, when we owned a camcorder to record the boys, and videos of dance recitals and plays. It's not much of a VCR, but surely it's good enough to play a movie.

And yes, it was, the last time I tried it.

We disconnected the DVD player and used the cable to hook up the VCR, then settled in to watch "Vertigo."

Have you watched it lately? The young people found it risible. They HATED the way Jimmy Stewart acted, the way his character treated Kim Novak's, really everything in the movie, except for one character.

(Stewart and Novak kiss.)
LP: Ew. He's old.
Snowman: And she's married!
LP: (as scene changes to show Barbara Bel Geddes) And she's cool!
Me: I'm so glad you're both moral and sensible.

So, now it's Thursday, and LP is home sick, and I am doing what mothers do when a child is home from school, what I saw my mother do. I am tidying up and organizing frantically, making a list for the grocery store, calling the office to reschedule things. My eyes light on "North By Northwest," and then I see the empty case for "Vertigo." The tape must be in the VCR. I remember asking Snowman to rewind it, and I saw so.

"Rewind?" (She knows what it means, is teasing me.)

I eject the tape and a moment after I notice it does in fact need rewinding, I also notice a little bit of the tape hanging out of the cassette.

"No problem," I say, "I used to sub in the A-V department of the library. I know how to put these back together."

And I do. And back into the VCR it goes, the whole exercise so 1993; I listen as it whirrs.

And then I hear a noise I don't like. It sounds bad. It sounds really, really bad.

And it really, really is. Really, really. I remove the evidence from the VCR, tape pouring from the cassette, a sadder sight than Kim Novak as a brunette with thick eyebrows.

I hold it up and ask LP, "Want to watch a movie?"

She smiles. "No, I think I've seen enough Hitchcock."

6 thoughts on “Unspooled”

  1. The scariest thing in that movie are those super-archy eyebrows where no eyebrows truly exist in nature.
    Didja see Hitchcock? Walking by near the beginning?

  2. I was proofing my sermon when the movie started, so I did not see him this time.
    You are SO right about the eyebrows.

  3. I am super, super, super bad about the video return. Really, really bad. Blue Eyes has just about banned me from entering the video store.

  4. We’ve given up on renting and now check out DVDs and VHS movies from the library, where the “rental fees” only hit us if we don’t return them within two weeks.
    I’m reading your post ruefully, because last night we made popcorn and settled in to watch a VHS movie, only to have the machine click oh-so-quietly and refuse to do anything. I think the cassette is somehow jammed, but I don’t know how to fix it.
    No television, the DVD player isn’t working, and this was our one media indulgence… *SIGH.* We ate the popcorn and went to bed.

  5. Cheesehead, my record in this area is so bad, Pure Luck refused to have a joint account at the video store after we got married! I wish I could say that fixed me.
    Mainecelt, our DVD player wouldn’t open, until Snowman rapped it firmly on the top. Now it’s fine. Don’t know why.
    mompriest, The Birds is *terrifying.*

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