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In Which Velociraptors Chase Me Down Memory Lane

The last time I saw Jurassic Park, I was living in Oak Park Illinois, just outside of Chicago. Scott and I were SO freaking poor, I can’t even tell you. Scott had just completed seven years of higher education… in THEATRE. We were both just ecstatic he had a job.

It was a lower-than-entry level position, but it was a foot in the door in an industry that was related to his first love, Stage Management. His salary paid our rent and our electricity and that was about it. But it gave us HEALTH INSURANCE, which was SO awesome it felt like MAGIC; I was gestating the little wad of whatnot that would become the amazing Sam Winn.

We hadn't finished making even ONE of these yet.

I had just finished grad school with a degree in…Creative Writing, and that plus the pregnancy made me nigh-on unemployable. In order for us to afford little luxuries like, you know, food and underpants, I was babysitting 30 hours a week for a friend with 2 boys who was getting her PhD.

Poor, poor, poor—in our to-the-penny budget, we set aside 25 dollars a month for entertainment. We took a lot of walks to the frozen custard stand and shared a small. Or we got a 5 dollar pizza from the take out place. We rented older movies for a dollar. Maybe I never cut my hair to give him a watch chain, and he never sold his watch to buy me combs, but God, we would have…We were young and crazy in love; it was a pretty great time in our lives.

Every Friday in the warmer months, we had a standing date at a nearby drive-in. It was a flat five bucks a car to get in, and they let you stay for both the films. We would pack a picnic and stay there until they shut it down. I fell into a different kind of love with my still newish husband during this time— Long Haul Love. We created it with our feet up on the dashboard, eating leftover meatloaf sandwiches and talking through the movies.

One week, the second show was Jurassic Park. By then, I was hugely, massively, OUTRAGEOUSLY pregnant. Sam was almost a week late—when he was born, ten days later, he would weigh 11 pounds, 13 ounces. As it was, I barely fit in our little second-hand Saturn. I lolled in the fully reclined seat, huge and unwieldy, with a SERIOUS case of pregnancy brain.

We watched Nedry drive for the docks through sheets of rain, clutching that can of shaving cream with the false bottom. OH I hated Nedry. I was glad when he ran off the road, crashed, and slipped around in mud, trying to winch his jeep out of the stream with that CUTE, small, inquisitive, cooing dino following him. BAM! Out came those shaking head frills and SPLAT! The purple goo covered his face. The cute dino was a poison spitty! Nedry screamed, clawed at his face, ran blindly for his car….and died.

I smiled all dreamy, turned to Scott, and said in the dopiest, most sincere voice I have ever heard come out of me, “I like dinosaurs.”

Those words have become a touchstone for DUMB behavior. If we see someone doing something particularly brainless, we will turn to each other and one of us will say, “He likes dinosaurs.” The other will nod and say, “Oh yes. He likes dinosaurs a LOT.”

Yesterday, Scott and I took Sam Winn to see Jurassic Park again. This time in 3D, at IMAX. He didn’t remember it from the first time, of course, because of all the “being a fetus” he was doing during the first showing.

We took Maisy as well, after careful coaching. She’s a wreck in tense movies. In order to let her ENJOY IT, I figured out which characters were likely to be her favorites, and promised her that none of those four would die.(Even so, she spent the WHOLE movie UP MY NOSE, screaming and clutching at me! But in a fun rollercoaster way, so it was all good.)

Man, but Jurassic Park holds up! Laura Dern is so great at REACTING TO THINGS THAT DO NOT EXIST. What an actor. Jeff Goldblum is that Spock-cific kind of geek-sexy that I find SO attractive. The kids are cute, and the ancient special effects, polished up a bit for this IMAX edition, looked really, really good.

Twice I screamed and climbed up SCOTT’S nose.

Oooooh! Floppy Disk! Gone so long from earth!

The computer stuff was fun – at one point, Scott poked me and pointed at Nedry’s desk. “Look!” he whispered in the same near reverent tones Sam Neil had just used to point out a Triceratops, “FLOPPY DISKS!”

Weird how a silly, super-fun family movie can make me so nostalgic, remembering Sam so small and as yet unknown, Maisy Jane just a dream, and Scott so young and good to me, rubbing my poor swollen pregnant feet at night.

Did you go? Then? Or now? Were you even alive then? What do you remember?

26 comments to In Which Velociraptors Chase Me Down Memory Lane

  • I remember going to it with my very first boyfriend (I was a late starter) and I had this terrible banana clip (remember those, shaped like a banana, kept your hair back and looking like a pony’s mane?) in my hair and I screamed at several parts. I LOVED it and I cannot wait to take my dinosaur-loving daughter to it in 3D!!

  • cakeburnette

    I HATED that movie the first time, and practically hyperventilate EVERY time the commercial for the 3-D reissue comes on my TV. I have a strange horror of being eaten alive and the velociraptors are the things my nightmares are made of (velociraptors and spiders, but that’s another story). I shall NOT be revisiting my initial horror, as it was scarring enough the first time, without the sensation that those things are coming out of the screen to eat me.

  • Gaylin

    I remember seeing it at the theatre and thinking how cool all the technology was . . . And the special effects were so amazing. Watched on tv recently and most of it held up for me.

  • Fran

    I so wish I could see things in 3-D. But you have to have two good eyes for that and I don’t. Yeah, it makes real life truly interesting, and remember, I drive. Heh. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    However, there’s something about that movie that still makes me smile. And the book is seriously good too, despite Crichton’s wierdness. He makes chaos theory understandable, at least a little bit.

    So glad the whole family had a good time with it. I understand coaching Maisy; I coached my son through “The Lost Boys” when he was a kid, but we too had the theatre background to help him through the not-real-like-on-stage bits that were scary.

    Darn it. Now I want to watch “Jurassic Park” again. You’re an evil influence.

  • mickey

    sometimes when my two cats come running into the room — one jumping up high on something to scout things while the other quickly scans the scene — i flash back to when the velociraptors burst into the kitchen where the kids were hiding. yep, my cats remind me of velociraptors!

  • I remember enjoying the lush green secenery in the film…I loved my children’s enjoyment of the movie…but I didn’t love the movie. Even though the character Nedry was plaed by actor Wayne Knight, from my town of Cartersville, Georgia.

    By the way, Knight’s character Nedry, aggravated me too…almost as much as his Seinfeld character, Newman, aggravated me!

  • I’ve never seen it. There was a small window of time in my life when I didn’t see movies of any kind. I was trying to fail out of college and working 60 hours a week for $8 an hour (I WAS LOADED!). My spare time was spent sleeping and/or smoking weed. To accompany the weed smoking, we sat on rooftops, danced in the kitchen (the biggest open floor space in our tiny shack of a house), learned all of the back dirt roads in Northwest Arkansas, and went camping (The free kind of camping where your gear is a blanket, a lighter and a can of some kind of soup, de-labelled and your camping spot is an unsanctioned bluff about a mile’s hike from the nearest roadway which is about twenty minutes from the nearest paved surface which is about thirty minutes from town.) Those were some of the best times in my life for sure.

  • Laurie

    I was in fifth grade and almost my entire class had been reading the book in our spare time. (Yes, we were a “gifted” class of nerdy overachievers and I could not have been happier!) Our awesome teacher organized an unofficial field trip, and we all met up along with our parents to watch the movie together. It was SO COOL! I believe we had a class discussion on the merits of book vs. movie the next day. 🙂

  • Linda J

    I did not see it in theater when it first came out. Now that I think about it. I didn’t even see it on vhs. The first time I saw it was a weird summer night outside. I had opened all 3 of my bedroom windows and was all in the movie when somewhere in a high drama scene I hear the weirdest noice of my life OUTSIDE MY WINDOW! It was a noise I had never heard before and it scared the snot out of me. Almost a year later I hear that noise in another movie and realised it was a fox. Not sure about seeing it in 3d but I might.

  • Melinda

    Right after college, when I had my first real job I lived in a funky old apartment building with a movie theater in it. The hallway to my apartment shared a wall with the theater. The whole summer after Jussasic Park came out I walked down the hall to the sound of dinosaurs roaring. The theater cranked up the sound for that one. That movie makes me nostalgic for that funky old building and my very first apartment.

  • I saw it and was terrified. But my most vivid memory is of one of my first grade students telling me he was going to get to go watch it for his birthday. Hiding my horror, I casually asked the rest of the class if they’d seen it. Every single hand went up. It was one of the most severe attacks of “those parents SUCK!” that I’ve ever suffered; however, in my defense, I have children now and my opinion has not changed. Of the movie or their parenting. Who takes a 6 year old to see that movie on the big screen???? Probably the same people who brought their preschooler to see Titanic.
    It still freaks me out. NO WAY could I watch in in 3-D.

  • erinanne

    I was ten, and my Mama’s mother took me to see it. She was a wondrful one for letting me do things that my parents didn’t want me to do, not because she was indulgent, mind, but because so enjoyed sticking it to my parents. She is the same grandmother who went by her first name even to her grandbabies and took me to her AA meetings, and who showed me ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ when I was five or six and caused me to have nightmares for months. If I remember correctly, I handled the dinosaurs with much more courage than I handled the cartoon man getting run over by the steamroller, and t this day I still love that movie.

    My grandmother passed the year after Jurassic Park hit the screen, but I still feel my courage spike whenever I think about that feisty lady.

  • jetmom4

    I remember going to the drive in our Chevy celebrity wagon, my first 3 kids in the back, my daughter walking up her dad, asleep in the back, when… COWS…I believe I’ve blocked the rest out. Thank you for the memories, yours and my own.

  • jetmom4

    I remember going to the drive in our Chevy celebrity wagon, my first 3 kids in the back, my daughter walking up her dad, asleep in the back, when… COWS…I believe I’ve blocked the rest out. Thank you for the memories, yours and my own.

  • Caryn

    Jurassic Park was the first date movie I went on with my now husband. I have such fond memories of it – being up his nose and screaming and laughing! I won’t be taking my girls to the 3D version because they would both be up our noses the entire movie and not laughing. Maybe when they are just a tich older. Love to hear your lovely young couple story.

  • That was a hell of a summer. I was a pirate by day, rebel by night. Okay, so technically I was “employed” in the Disney internship program (read: minimum wage slave) and hocked pirate swords while wearing an itchy and HOT polyester costume 40 hours a week.

    I read the book after my shifts, eking out space in the apartment I shared with 5 foreign exchange students (that’s how they get all the authentic employees at EPCOT). As soon as the movie opened, I took them to the ginormous theater at Downtown Disney. Theater was full of tourists. Let me tell you—fear needs no translation. But I think I yelped loudest when sexy geek Jeff G. made the comment about Pirates of the Caribbean–where I worked all day. Burned into memory.

  • Martha

    I remember taking my young sons – I think they were probably 7 & 10 and while walking back to car I heard behind me “Who the f%*&^k! would take kids to that movie?” I turned around and said very calmly “Who would use that kind of profanity around kids in the parking lot?”. My husband (now ex) was mortified and my kids were oblivious, but I felt RIGHTEOUS! The movie was okay for me. My boys liked it quite a lot.

  • Jurassic was one of the movies that actually did scare me/us. We would laugh through the Nightmare on Elm Street and other horror movies, but this movie was wild and unpredictable and unique. (ANd I think it’s genius that Nedry is also the smarmy Newman.)

    Recently, I was driving along with a friend, who said (as he looked wistfully out the window), “wouldn’t it be cool if there were still velociraptors lurking around? That’d keep us all in line. The human race has lost all their naturalness – the survival of the fittest – the powers of observation – that heightened awareness that makes you ALIVE! The world would be a pretty interesting place. We’d all behave ourselves if there was a velociraptor lurking about the neighborhood.”
    Ok, he’s a little weird. But it would make things interesting.

  • My then boyfriend, now husband, was a theater manager. My best friend and I went to see it with the rest of the staff (and staff girlfriends/boyfriends best friends) after the theater closed the night before it opened to the public. It was fabulously fun and memorable.

    Haven’t seen it in 3D.

  • My husband and I were on our honeymoon when we saw “Jurassic Park” in some tiny movie theater near Pensacola where we were staying at “Five Flags Motel” (cheapest rates Gulf side). I’m not sure WHY the theater was so small, but it was really, really small. . .there were folding chairs for seating and the screen was larger than one for slide show but not much. It was hard to take things seriously when the dinosaur heads were going off the top of the screen. We loved it anyway.

  • I love JP. I was in middle school when it came out and went with my then-BFF at least 2 times. And we read the book. Multiple times. Then, in high school, we had a biology assignment to re-write the end of JP. I think our teacher thought that one up just to help me pass science. God love her, I had so much fun with that project. Of course, in my version, only Elly made it onto the helicopter, leaving everyone else dead. Then, a giant flying dino ATE THE HELICOPTER.

    Apparently, I have a penchant for the tragic in literature.

  • I’m two days late for this, but HAD to chime in. I saw it far from home (San Diego, and I’m from Wisconsin), all alone (I often go to movies by myself), and it scared the CRAP out of me. I am an intelligent person. I know that it’s just pretend. But the sound, and the stillness, and the big roary monsters had my heart racing and my butt on the edge of my seat. I truly wanted to leave. Half a dozen times I scooted up just a bit further, certain that I could not take another moment. Then I’d catch a glimpse of the 10 year old boy two seats to my left and think, “If he can take this…” And I’d hear the deep voices of the two young men with military haircuts seated behind me and think, “But they’re so cute, and they’ll think less of me…” Yeah, like they even noticed me. Still, it kept me there though the entire movie. I freaked out a little in the parking lot – the vehicles made me think of dinosaurs. I saw a grouping of trees on the way home that looked EXACTLY like a T-Rex. And a week later, I saw the movie again. This time with a friend.

  • I went then and would love to go now. When I went then, I had read the book, and I was so excited to see the movie (the trailers were just breathtaking — the Tyrannosaurus chasing after the jeep looked so REAL) that I went with my sister Laura on opening night. I remember being thrilled by the movie: scared out of my wits, loving Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, being fairly relieved actually that they left out the grandpa gettting nibbled to death by the teeny-tiny dinosaurs. But what I remember most is that next to my sister was this little boy, maybe six or seven years old? He was TERRIFIED, not in a good way, and his father was completely oblivious to his terror. My sister spent quite a bit of the movie telling him that it was okay, it wasn’t real, she thought it was scary too, etc. I felt so badly for that kid, and so angry at his dad for being such a numbnuts.

  • ramsr

    We went, and I’m a Maisy, but one who figured out years ago that Spielberg plays by the rules and wouldn’t kill anyone I care about…much (clever GIRL.) The thing he got best was the excitement of science –I still tear up at the theme and think “They’re herding!” Best, though, was that during the seventh inning stretch, everyone up in the mangrove tree being sneezed on, as the camera panned back a lightning bug that apparently had been napping on the screen chose that moment to drift out into the theater, blinking. Hugely amused audience, all thinking something like “best special effect yet.” (With you on Laura Dern — she’s the only action hero I’ve ever seen run with a limp after jumping down from something. Couldn’t have reached over and accepted that ice cream, though — in the final shot of that scene she’s ten feet away down the table.) (Trivia-brain — only saw it that once, first release.)

  • I love that movie and was quite disappointed when I scored tickets to the preview showing of the new 3D version on a Saturday morning and my ungrateful children didn’t want to go.

    “It’s too early,” they complained.

    “We’ve seen it before,” they whined.

    “But not in 3D,” I countered.

    “3D gives me a headache,” my 13yo daughter said. 13yo’s have an uncanny ability to find the negative in a nanosecond.

    Only the 7yo was willing to go because she is still sweet and unstained by the world. But she would’ve been up my nose the whole movie and without the whole family in tow (or at least the majority of us) it wouldn’t have been the same.

    So I gave up and no one went. And I’m still trying to forgive them for depriving me of All The Family Fun you described in this post. I knew it would happen if I could just get them there. Your post is proof.

    Personally, I will continue to leave Jurassic Park on the tv every time I catch it on cable. And when they complain I will hold the remote hostage. Paybacks.

    For the record, the purple spitting dinosaur scared the be-jabbers out of me when I first saw the movie. I was checking for him under my bed that night.

  • I was also HUGELY pregnant when I saw it. The theater was so packed we had to sit in the second row. Craning my neck and dinosaurs filling every speck of sight. No safe place to look for a moment. I had to leave I was so tense and every time I tried to grab my then-husband-father-of-that-baby-and-everything he would shake me off. MAD. We would later divorce.

    I never saw the ending until many years later when it was on TV.

    I did love that scene with Nedry.