We stopped off at Mr. Chicken first, ordering our roasted half-chickens with pommes. We came back and chowed down to the bones, bared the wall and plugged the laptop into the projector. Up went the Duke, with a blaring soundtrack at his back, riding toward us alone across a vast southwestern prairie. We were on the porch with the rest of the Edwards family, waiting for Ethan to climb down from his horse and amble in for his close-up, all stoic and macho and lionhearted.
For all the fun we poked at it, it’s hard to deny that The Searchers is a classic of classics.
We took a bathroom break and then sat back down for a classic Eastwood flick, Unforgiven, choosing arguably one of that icon’s best as well. I’ve already written plenty about that one here.
It was a good time to be men, and to realize how different we “men” are from the men in these films. I’ve always wondered if I could make it in the late 1800′s, with all its stark frontierism, horses and guns – a place and time so devoid of entertainment opportunities that the whole family is abuzz with exhilaration at the arrival of a poorly written letter. Passing the days slogging through mud to separate feverish pigs, digging holes for fence posts and gathering firewood so the family won’t freeze to death is a far cry from my list of chores growing up (mow the yard, skim the pool, recycle the cans, etc.).
One thing that I do recognize as remaining constant is the desire to sit and… be. In Unforgiven, Gene Hackman’s dream is to build his little house with a porch where he can sit out in the evenings and smoke his pipe and watch the sunset. In The Searchers, John Wayne relaxes on the porch steps of his brother’s house and muses upon his travels while the sky turns from yellow and blue to orange and indigo. All the Tivo’s, DVR’s, high-speed Internet connections, and Netflix envelopes in the world don’t hold up in comparison to the desire I have to enjoy the same. To sit out on a porch of my own, smoke my pipe and watch the same sun that set in 1868 set over me… That’ll be the day.