By Judy Berman
I wander thru the crowd, pleased to see a familiar face.
If anyone can grant me a wish, it will be this dark, mysterious stranger. His piercing, blue eyes meet mine, probing to determine what brings me to him.
Suddenly nervous, I hesitate before I ask. Then, stammer: “I want to be a kid again.”
Zoltar stares. His mouth agape. He shuffles a few cards, utters some mumbo-jumbo, and then he sits silently as the arcade machine spits out my fortune.
In the movie, “Big,” (1988), Josh Baskin (young Josh played by David Moscow) is humiliated when he’s not allowed on a carnival ride because he’s too short. When he spots Zoltar, an antique arcade fortune teller machine, he tells Zoltar that he wants to be big.
A fortune slides out. On it: “Your wish has been granted.” His transformation takes place overnight, and he must adapt to the changes. Josh is physically bigger. Now played by Tom Hanks, he has a 30-year-old body, but he’s still a kid inside – nearly 13.
Josh enjoys the perks of the adult world – being paid for what he loves to do, having an apartment and a beautiful girlfriend. But he soon discovers that he misses his family. He tries to find a way to return to them.
Like, Josh, I look to see if the robotic fortune teller will grant my wish.
Strange. Isn’t it? We always think life will be better if we could trade places. If we could be older, younger, richer, smarter, more athletic or more popular.
When we’re young, we don’t know the adult worries of holding down a job, scrambling to pay bills or staying up nights worrying about a sick child. We don’t see the challenges. We only see what we perceive as greater freedom and to be on our own.
As adults, it’s also easy to forget youths’ troubles. Worrying about avoiding that bully who views you as a human punching bag. Fretting about failing a course … and, maybe, a grade. Trying not to be noticed when you’re with all of the other wallflowers at the school dance. Knowing you’re always on the outside looking in.
In my case, I forgot that, when I was little, everyone looked down on me. They didn’t have any other option. I was one of the smallest kids in high school – 7th thru 12th grades.
At 4 feet 6 inches in 7th grade, kids joked that my nickname should be “Squeaky” because I was too small to be called “Pip Squeak.” That’s when you learn to develop a sense of humor about your, er, shortcomings … or die a thousand middle-school deaths.
I think it will be a blast – even if it’s just for a short while – to return to those carefree days.
I miss climbing trees, exploring the woods and creeks with my Cocker Spaniel and hanging out with my friends. I long to re-experience the excitement a child feels at special times like his/her birthday or Christmas.
I clutch my fortune in my hand as I walk away. I turn and look wistfully at Zoltar before the crowd envelopes him. Then, he disappears from view.
On the way back to my hotel room, I bypass all the shops. What’s the point? Who knows what size clothing I’ll need in the morning after my transformation?
This will be great, no matter how it turns out. As Frank Sinatra once sang: “Here is the best part. You have a head start if you are among the very young at heart.”
What would you wish for?
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Movie video: “Big” with Tom Hanks as Josh and Elizabeth Perkins as Susan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCmyX6CYhI0
Movie video: Zoltar in “Big” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIeMRRGxmwQ
1. Main Photo – Zoltar Speaks arcade machine – Watkins Glen, New York – taken by Dave Berman, July 25, 2014
2. Photo: “Big” – screenshot – young Josh Baskin (David Moscow) asking Zoltar to grant his wish.
3. Photo: “Big” – screenshot – Tom Hanks as ‘bigger’ Josh Baskin, asking Zoltar to grant his wish.
4. Photo: my fortune – June 2014 – from the Zoltar Speaks arcade machine at Circus Circus casino/hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.