Daniel Stern Quotes
Total quotes (23)
Total quotes (23)
I wanted to stay there, in that night... more than anything I wanted before. But I knew I couldn't. I was fifteen. I slept under a roof my father owned, in a bed my father bought. Nothing was mine, except my heart, and my fears. And my growing knowledge that not every road was going to lead home anymore.
When you are a little kid, you are a bit of everything—artist, scientist, athlete, scholar. Sometimes, it seems life is like a process of giving those things up, one by one. I guess we all have one thing we regret giving up. One thing we really miss. And we gave up because we were too lazy. We couldn't stick it out. Or because we were afraid.
That Christmas of nineteen-sixty eight, my brother, Wayne, and I fell in love. With color-TV. It was more than love. We were witnessing a modern miracle. And we worshipped it like aborigines from the black-and-white stone-age. It was the first thing we ever agreed on. Even Mom and Karen tended to mist up in the presence of that almost-living color.
Nineteen sixty-eight was a strange and passionate time. Things that had seemed impossible were happening all around us. The events of those days brought every emotion to the surface. We felt things strongly then. And we felt them together. I guess we all got caught up in it. Even me. And Miss White. What was it about her that affected me so profoundly? Her sensitivity? Her warmth? Her intelligence? Maybe all of those. [The camera slowly pans down her white blouse and pauses.] Maybe more. Maybe much more.
In junior high school there were days when you felt like nothing was worth getting out of bed for. But then, you remembered...you were going to see her...Your day was gonna have all these moments...moments that were full of...possibility. When you were sure that something—something...was going to happen. And then, there were the moments that made you really, really...nervous. I don't know why, but ever since I'd broken up with Becky Slater, I felt uneasy whenever I saw her and Winnie together. I started to think...a dumpee could really do a lot of damage to a dumpster.
In all the years I spent growing up at my parents' house, I don't think I ever heard them use the word 'relationship'. Not once. 'Indigestion'... 'taxes'... 'damn' - these were words you heard a lot. I guess my mom just expected my dad to be a good man - honest, loyal, a good provider... hopefully possessed of good table manners. And my dad expected my mom to be a good woman - honest, loyal, a good mother. And hopefully a good cook. And that was about it. But if my parents didn't know much about relationships, they knew a lot about marriage. Like how to make a joint-decision. Mom would choose what she liked... Dad would choose what he liked...then they'd settle on something no one of our species could like. They could completely disagree about something, without directly contradicting each other. One thing my parents would never, ever do... is yell at each other in front of the kids.
The silence that filled our house that night - was like ice. My dad didn't come home till after midnight. [Next morning, Norma burns her hand on the iron and starts to cry. Jack gently puts his hands on her shoulders. She turns around and they hug] I know it sounds strange - but that was the first time... I'd ever seen my parents alone together. I guess sometimes the ground can shift beneath your feet. Sometimes your footing slips - you stumble. And sometimes, you grab what's closest to you, and hold on... as tight as you can.
When you're a little boy, you don't have to go very far to find the center of your universe. Mom. She's always there. It's a pretty good arrangement—when you're five. But around age thirteen, there starts to be...a problem. The problem is...she's always there. And I mean always. Now a mom has to be a mom, but a guy's gotta be a guy. And when an irresistible force meets an immovable object...Sooner or later—something's gotta give.
Things were confusing, alright. Sometimes even crazy. Still, I wasn't crazy. Just...in love. Winnie and I had survived the summer of long-distance romance. In fact, her move across town had brought a new depth to our relationship. We shared everything, now that she was wearing my ring. Hopes, dreams...big plans. Yep, these were golden moments—in a golden summer. When every day was perfect, and you knew it would go on forever.
Nineteen-sixty-eight...I was twelve years old. A lot happened that year. Dennis McLain won thirty-one games...'The Mod Squad' hit the air...And I graduated from Hillcrest Elementary, and entered junior high school. But we'll get to that. There's no pretty way to put this...I grew up in the suburbs. I guess most people think of the suburb as a place with all the disadvantages of the city, and none of the advantages of the country. And vice versa. But, in a way, those really were the wonder years for us there in the suburbs. It was kind of a golden age for kids.
Once upon a time life was simple. Evolutionarily speaking. Then, things began to change. The competition got tougher. There were winners...and losers. The struggle continued. Then in the fall of nineteen-seventy, a new creature appeared...the likes of which had never been seen before. Noble, upright, virtuous. Ninth-grade man. Master of all he surveyed. Which in this case was Woody's Pizza Barn where the elite went to meet. Yep, by the last week of summer I was feeling pretty good about myself.
It was the first kiss for both of us. We never really talked about it afterward, but I think about the events of that day again and again, and somehow I know that Winnie does too. Whenever some blowhard starts talking about the anonymity of the suburbs, or the mindlessness of the TV generation. Because we know that inside each one of those identical boxes, with its Dodge parked out front, and its white bread on the table, and its TV set glowing blue in the falling dusk, there were people with stories. There were families bound together in the pain and the struggle of love. There were moments that made us cry with laughter. And there were moments, like that one, of sorrow and wonder.
Who was right, and who was wrong? Well, I'm supposed to be an adult now, and I still can't completely figure that one out. But at some point, late at night, near sleep, the ideas and the disagreements sort of dissolve, and you're just left with the people. And people were no different then, as they've always been. And always will be. Young girls get their hearts broken. Men and women suffer alone, over the choices they've made. And young boys, full of confusion...full of fear...full of love and courage...grow up stealthily in their sleep.
As seventh grade wore on, I began to have nightmares. I'm walking into a sort of a—a cave. A long dark tunnel. I think Paul and Winnie are with me. But then—then—they're not. I'm all alone. I don't even want to go into the cave—I'm, I'm terrified. But I just know that I have to keep going—deeper, and deeper. So deep, it's like I can't even remember what the daylight is like anymore, and suddenly—I'm in second period math class. In pajamas. With feet! I guess I was under a lot of stress. There are a lot of things about junior high life that might seem simple to an outsider... but they're not. Take the fifteen minutes before homeroom every morning. What you do with those fifteen minutes says pretty much everything there is to say about you as a human being.
It's hard to imagine being twelve years old...and going without certain things. Like three months off in the summertime. Or a good bicycle to cruise the neighborhood on. More than anything though, it's hard to imagine being twelve years old...and not having a best-friend like Paul Pfeiffer. Paul was the nicest kid I ever knew. He would have done anything for me—I know it. And I would have done anything for him. At least, I always thought I would.