Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Life Lessons on Mighty Wing(men)

I have to keep today’s post short because I need to run out to buy my copy of Top Gun 3D Blu-ray – not to mention a blu-ray player so I can enjoy the awesomeness that is Top Gun in the comfort of my own home.  On February 7th, Top Gun returned to theaters for SIX DAYS ONLY.  And this time it was in 3D!  I may have seen it more than once. 

I have a long history with Top Gun – and no, it’s not because I had a huge pre-adolescent crush on Tom Cruise, although, I can admit now that there may have been a time in my life when I was convinced that I was going to be the next Mrs. Tom Cruise.  Katie Holmes scuttled all of those plans.  Sigh.   
This was the free reprint poster they
gave out at the movie.  I had the
original taped up on my bedroom
wall when I was a pre-teen!
Top Gun has it all – speed, danger, romance, tragedy (summed up in three words – “Goose is dead”), and ultimately, of course, there is triumph.  Even if the other side doesn’t admit it happened.  Oh, it also has a helluva soundtrack. 
When I heard Top Gun was going to be back in theaters after 23 YEARS, it was a no brainer that I’d go see it.  I mean – I’ve only ever seen it with commercials!  I ordered my ticket as early as possible and on opening night I got to the theater an hour before it started.

I was so excited.  And shocked.  At how few people there were to celebrate this epic film!  Seriously, opening night – it was me, my friend Lugnut, and seven other folks.  Sure, it was a Thursday night but it was Top Gun, people! 
In the end, it was actually better that there were just a handful of people there – it gave you freedom to bask in the movie.  To really feel it.  To experience it.   To sing along with the music.  As I watched though, something interesting happened – and it wasn’t the weird feelings I started to develop towards Tom Skerritt who by now is pushing his 70s, I think – no, it was realizing that Top Gun wasn’t just a cinematic blockbuster.  It’s actually a cinematic masterpiece filled with lessons that we can all use in life. 

Before I go on – I just want to say that I have the utmost respect for members of the U.S. military, especially naval aviators and amateur volleyball players.  I know there’s a lot in that film that probably doesn’t happen in the real U.S. Navy (starting with the horrible posture of the students in class!) but I still like it anyway. 
Many people are going to say that the most important life lesson from Top Gun is learning how to perform the perfect muscle flex while playing with the boys or where to find the plaque for the alternates – but they’re wrong.  The most important life lesson is this – you never leave your wingman. 

Let’s talk about the wingman.  I love this concept.  You don’t have to be besties with your wingman – I’m pretty sure Kazanski and Mitchell weren’t ever gonna kick it in the Gas Lamp District together but you knew at the end of the film that there was a respect and a trust that had developed between them.  You knew that they’d have each other’s back – or wing, as the case may be. 
It got me to thinking - in life, you need wingmen. 

You need a wingman who will talk you down – or through – the danger zone.  Sometimes you need a wingman to remind you that life isn’t all fun and games and you’d better buckle down, act responsibly, grow up, and stop buzzing the tower.  And then there are the times that you need a wingman who doesn’t blow sunshine up your ass and tells you flat-out that you have a confidence problem.  And sometimes you just need a wingman who will start singing songs from the Righteous Brothers because the Righteous Brothers are awesome. 
You need those wingmen.  They need you.

And you don’t leave them. 

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