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A Brief Quasi-Anecdote About Disappointing Surprises

So here's kind of a funny story about something dumb I did when I was a kid.

Back when I was six years old, I saw a commercial on TV advertising a movie I was just dying to see.  It was this gangster movie with a bunch of colorful characters set in the 1920s / 1930s, and even though I didn't know anything about gangsters or the time period, I thought it looked amazing.

I checked the TV Guide and saw that it was going to be shown like three or four times over the next week kinda late at night.  I knew I couldn't stay up late to see it, but I also knew how to program the timer on our VCR.  (Didn't know how to cook, barely knew any history, couldn't learn a second language, but I could program a goddamn VCR.)

And since I wanted to be sure that nobody ruined it for me, I made sure to tell my parents that I had set the timer.  "Don't take out the tape," I cautioned them as solemnly as a six year-old can.  "I'm going to record The Untouchables this Wednesday."




I don't recall the look my parents gave me when I told them this.  They might have glanced at each other like, "Is he serious?  Who told him about that movie?"  Or they might have just shrugged and said, "Knock yourself out."  Knowing my parents, I'd probably go with the latter... after all, my mom is the one who watched the Aliens movies with me before I reached double digits.

Well, however they reacted, I never got to see the movie when I was six.  Mysteriously, the tape that I had programmed failed to record any such movie.  I'm pretty sure I went back to my parents and explained - again, more firmly - that I wanted to see The Untouchables, and for some reason the VCR recorded two hours of some other channel instead, but the movie was coming on again so I was going to try again, anyway.  And mysteriously, the VCR still failed to record the movie.

So, maybe I wasn't a genius at VCR programming like I thought.  Months passed.  Then years.  Finally, almost a decade later, I was walking through a Blockbuster while I was in high school and I passed by a shelf that held The Untouchables.

"Hmm," I thought to myself.  "I remember I really wanted to see this when I was a kid.  Well, I've got agency now, so might as well rent it."

Went home, put the tape in the VCR (This was still pre-DVD.  Yes, I'm old.)... and I was intensely confused.

The Untouchables was a 1930s gangster movie, sure, but where were the colorful characters?  Where were the weird henchmen with catchy names and offbeat quirks?  Where was the spirited comic book vibe?  It was a decent film, sure, but it wasn't the movie I wanted to see.

Fast forward another five years or so before I solved the mystery:


Dick Tracy!  Of course!  My feeble six year-old brain conflated the two movies and convinced me that a violent R-rated Brian De Palma vehicle was actually a bright and vibrant comic book action movie.

Then I finally saw it.

Fuck me.  That turned into two disappointing surprises.