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Stay(ing) Gold

Earlier this week, I made a list of books I read as a child that I want to (and will, this summer) read again. Today, I'm looking to compile a list of my favorite books from my teen years that I'll try to get to reading again.

Topping the list (which won't be up until this afternoon) would be The Outsiders. And in the general interest of saving my sanity and to keep from posting something on a completely different subject that would only cause controversy, fan flames and further my anger over a particular subject, I'm going to repeat this post from my Best Of collection about The Outsiders. And count to ten. Slowly. One hundred times.


(From December, 2003)

If there's one way the daughter does not take after me, it's that she does not like to read. She says that reading just isn't "her thing" and that she should not be forced to pick up a book for pleasure when she has to read so much "junk" for school. She loves to write, though, so I let the reading thing go sometimes.

So imagine my suprise and delight when one day she comes home from school all excited about a book she's reading for English class. She's so excited, in fact, that she wants me to buy her the book because she is sure that she will want to read it over and over.

I ask her what novel has her so excited to read and she pulls a well-worn paperback out of her bag. My jaw drops.

"The Outsiders!?!"
"Oh, you've heard of it?"
"Heard of it? That was my favorite book in eighth grade! I did a spectacular report on it."
"Oh.My.God.Mom. I'm in eighth grade. And I'm going to do a report on it, too! I had no idea the book was so old."

She pronounces the word old as if what she really means is so ancient as to be from the time of dinosaurs.

She's already read half the book in school, so we reminisce over some of the scenes and characters. I tell her about the movie version. Another Oh.My.God. moment.

I pull up the IMDB page for The Outsiders.

"Who are these people?"
"That was an amazing cast for that time. They were all the hottest stars of the day."
"Who is Francis Ford Coppola?"

I explain the legacy of Mr. Coppola. She is not impressed.

"So who are these actors? Oh.My.God!" (she says that a lot)
"That's Tom Cruise! He was in that stupid movie."
"He sure was. Uhh..which one are you talking about?"

She gives a convoluted, lengthy description and I realize after a few minutes she's talking about Legend.

"So who are these other people? What were they in? Are they still famous?"

I explain about C. Thomas Howell and how he ended up in one of the worst movies of all time. I tell her about Ralph Macchio, fellow Long Islander. She gets him confused with Scott Baio of Joanie Loves Chachi fame (too much Nick at Nite, I guess), and the recognizes him from Karate Kid, which she deems the dumbest movie ever and does a sarcastic wax on, wax off thing. She sort of recognizes Patrick Swayze and Emilio Estevez. She thinks Rob Lowe is cute in a girly kind of way, whatever that means. Then I pull up a photo of Matt Dillon from his Outsider days.

Her eyes light up. She's got this dreamy look on her face that I haven't seen since the first time she fell in love , with this guy.

"Who does he play in the movie?"
"Oh! Dally is my favorite! What else was he in?"

I have to think about my answer because I'm certainly not going to tell her about Drugstore Cowboy or Wild Things. I think about forcing her to watch Singles. Wait, what about.....

"Over the Edge. One of the greatest movies about teenage rebellion ever made."
"About what?"
"Nevermind. I'll just rent it for you someday. Matt Dillon looked really good in that movie."
"He is sooo cute."
"Hon, he's like 40 years old now. You can't have a crush on this guy. It's just not right."
"Eeww, like I would like a guy that old! I just like the young him."
"So, you have a retroactive crush on Matt Dillon?"

A couple of days later, she has finished the book - twice - and watched the movie seven times. She aced the book test. And now we have a little inside thing between us. Instead of saying goodnight to her, I say, in a wry sort of way, Stay gold, Ponyboy. She laughs. And I go sit on the couch and and think about Ponyboy and SodaPop and feel like I'm in eighth grade again, until I recall the above conversation and feel so, so old.


Brought tears to my eyes-You are something else!



Oh man, I LOVED the Outsiders from like the 7th grade. My school had the audio book so not only did I read the book (and a few others by SE Hinton), I listened to it through countless studyhalls, and of course I own the movie, though I think I only have it on VHS. I also discovered a fondness of Robert Frost poetry thanks to The Outsiders.

I had TOTALLY forgotton about Soul Man. On purpose I'm sure as it sucked serious ass.

Ah yes, Soul Man. Who can forget Ron Reagan Jr's acting debut? A movie that did more to further race relations than "Diff'rent Strokes". Immortal line: This is the Cosby decade. America loves black people .

What would you recommend for a 12-year old girl who reads at a high school level?

'Outsiders' was my favorite book growing up. My other big favorite in elementary school was 'Lulu's back in town', an excellent book for young girls.