These are the five greatest mysteries of this Earth: 1. How Stonehenge was formed; 2. The disappearance of Amelia Earhart; 3. The popularity of the Kardashians; 4. Why I despise all things mayonnaise (mayonnaise is basically white lard, you would think I would like it since I'm white ... and lard); and 5. Why I can't keep my eyes off the 1989 motion picture "Road House."
"Road House" is a film about a celebrated bar bouncer named Dalton (played by the late, great Patrick Swayze) who is recruited to clean up the Double Deuce saloon in Jasper, Missouri. He makes friends, makes enemies, takes on the town boss, fights are fought, and, of course, Dalton kills the bad guys in the end. It's basically a spaghetti Western set in the 1980s rather than the 1880s.
The movie is simply great. And by "great," I mean terrible.
Yet, for some reason that escapes me, whenever I catch it while skimming through the channels — and it's on TBS or TNT nearly every day — I can't turn away. I absolutely must watch it.
What is it about "Road House" that I find so mesmerizing? Let me count the ways.
First, Dalton is not just a bouncer — he's a "cooler," which is another name for "head bouncer." And he has a philosophy degree from NYU.
This is divulged to the viewer during a pivotal scene when he goes to the hospital to have a knife wound sewn up. He brings along his medical records in a folder, which he presents to the attractive, single, female emergency room doctor (aren't they all?). Not only is his detailed medical history in this folder, but also papers identifying his academic pedigree. Why? I'm not sure. Perhaps you get better medical treatment if you have an advanced degree.
Anyway, Dalton refuses an anesthetic, explaining to the foxy doc that "pain don't hurt." Oddly, this declaration doesn't cause her to question why these people are always coming into the ER complaining of pain. Instead, she decides to date him.
The first 30 minutes of the film are absolutely gripping. And by "gripping," I mean unintentionally hilarious.
In his first meeting with the Double Deuce staff, Dalton outlines his rules for handling troublemakers: 1. Never underestimate your opponent; 2. Always take it outside; and 3. Be nice.
Which are, coincidentally, also my three rules of parenting.
At the end of that first evening, the Double Deuce owner proclaims with a chuckle, "It was a good night — nobody died." Not chuckling, as if seeing the future, or perhaps the script, Dalton replies, "It will get worse before it gets better."
The only member of the cast seemingly in on the joke is Ben Gazzara, who plays the villain, Brad Wesley, with a smirk as if he's being tickled and holding back the giggles.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds "Road House" utterly entertaining. In 2003, an off-Broadway musical was made based on the movie, called — and I'm not making this up — "Road House: The Stage Version of the Cinema Classic That Starred Patrick Swayze, Except This One Stars Taimak From the '80s Cult Classic 'The Last Dragon' Wearing a Blonde Mullet Wig."
I bring up "Road House" because my 15-year-old son was meandering through the channels the other day when I noticed it was on — "turn to 'Road House' immediately," I commanded.
He did, and gloriously, it was just starting.
"Do I have to watch this?"
"Yes. This is one of the classics," I replied. "You can watch with me, or we're going to have to take it outside."
I am adamant that if I do nothing else as a parent — and I will — I introduce my children to the finest in art and culture, and worst, with the hope that they, like me, won't understand the difference.
So, for the next two hours, we watched my guilty pleasure.
When it was over, I asked what he thought of "Road House."
"It was great," he responded. "And horrible at the same time."
I touched his shoulder, a tear forming in the corner of my eye, and softly said, "Son, there is hope for you yet."
Len Robbins is the editor of the Clinch County News.