Blockbuster Video is closing the last of their few, proud stores shortly. They made the announcement yesterday. I was sitting on my couch eating lukewarm lasagna when I heard. I'm not ashamed to say I dropped my fork. I turned 30 in July, but Blockbuster closing was the first time I felt the reality of my age hit me right in the forehead. My (unborn) kids aren't going to know what it's like to go rent a movie.
As my eyes filled with tears (look, I was hormonal, okay?), my brother shook his head in disgust. "It's not like no one is going to rent movies anymore," he said, "it will just be easier." I continued bawling like a big fat baby. Because that wasn't the point. I wasn't sad because there was one less option when it came to renting movies. I was sad because their locked doors, like anything else that has vanished from our pasts, represented the passing of time.
I'm really going to miss you. Sure, I haven't been to see you in years, but I'd like to think we would always be there for each other. I know we had that awkward period where I couldn't look you in the eye because I'd lost one of your movies and owed you easily $80 -- but we got through it. After all, I tried to make it up to you by gorging myself on your king-size Kit Kat and crappy microwave popcorn. I thought I treated you right.
I want to thank you for giving me and my best friend in high school some place to hang out. We weren't cool enough to drink, and we never had enough money for the mall, but your store accepted us. You let us buy your giant cut-outs of Mel Gibson. You gave me ripped posters for my walls. I can't ever imagine a version of my teenager years that did not include trolling your aisles and seeing how many movies starring Nicolas Cage we could find and rent. Answer: Too many. Sometimes we'd leave without finding anything at all -- just being around all the movies was good enough. It felt like an education -- in pop culture, in our history even.
I won't miss rewinding tapes, or getting stuck with a DVD that skips or sticks. I won't miss getting to your doors too late and getting hit with a fee. But I'll miss watching other movie browsers and trying to figure out what they're like by what they're renting. I see you cute guy renting Turner & Hooch. You've got a soft side and also I love you. I'll miss stumbling across an interesting cover and spending time with a story I might have otherwise missed. That's how I discovered Fellini, truth be told. I'll miss posters and the surly teens who manned your registers. And one day when I have kids, I'll miss the thrill of watching them eagerly pick out their movie of choice and squeeze it tight to them all the way home. You can't squeeze a digital download.
PS: I'm sorry about Netflix. But the heart wants what it wants.
Do you have any fond memories of your time renting movies in a store?
Image via Scott Clark/Flickr