Friday June 27, 2003 11:44 PM
Watching Charlie Chan with Number One Son

When humble author was small boy, he was great fan of Charlie Chan.

Remember watching Charlie Can movies on weekend afternoons, sometimes with honorable father, sometimes alone. Can think of two reasons for enjoying these movies. First, young children enjoy doing things with parents. As adult, enjoy many things as much if not more for nostalgic memories associated with activities as for activities themselves. Second reason, find Mr. Chan's thoughtful and patient mannerisms appealing. Honorable Chan always uses brain- setting good example.

When family had gone to library last night to return a video, wife suggested check video shelves for another Godzilla movie for number one son. Find only 'Godzilla vs. Monster Zero' which number one son has already seen, but continue to look in case something interesting might catch eye.

On bottom shelf, just as about to go, spotted 'Charlie Chan in the Secret Service'. Seeing movie, was reminded of childhood fondness for movies of Mr. Chan. Offhandedly pick up movie and read description on back.

Number one son ask, "What's that movie, Daddo?"

"It's Charlie Chan. I used to watch this guy when I was your age." I humbly reply.

"Let's get it!"

I acquiesce to number one's son imperative and take all three Charlie Chan movies on shelf- 'Charlie Chan in the Secret Service' mentioned above, 'Charlie Chan and the Scarlet Clue', and 'Charlie Chan and the Shanghai Cobra'. Number one son is drawn to cobra on cover of last movie, but movie is described as 'film noir classic' which may have some elements which perhaps are 'too scary' for son. Pointing this out to son does not deter his enthusiasm to 'watch the snake one first'.

As we get into van to go home, son asks to hold 'snake video' in hands as we drive. Hand him 'Charlie Chan in the Secret Service' instead and he is satisfied. When arrive home, son asks to watch Charlie Chan video. Humble author suggest son ask mother who is not as enthusiastic about videos of Chan. Tell son "Maybe tomorrow night".

Tonight, after going out to dinner with wife's Aunt Ruth, return home and number one son ask again to watch Charlie Chan video. Wife is tired and going upstairs to read, so we put video into player.

Have not seen Charlie Chan movie in perhaps 15 or 20 years, but was looking forward to reliving childhood memory with own son. Movies appear slightly different, though, through more analytical perspective of adult. Had expected that perhaps movies were going to be far cheesier than humble author had realized as a child. Expectation proved to be accurate but this did not prevent enjoyment of movie.

Number one son perhaps did not fully understand complex plot of movie, but several times declared that he liked it.

"I like Charlie Chan," he said, "but I also like the bad guy in the closet who looks out with his spooky eye. Hey- I want to learn how to talk like Charlie Chan. Can you teach me?"

"Perhaps humble father can teach number one son."

"Ha ha- that's funny. Will father get number one son cup of juice with straw, please?"

Halfway through movie, humble author realized he was sleepy and dozing off. Started to lose track of plot soon after second murder, but author's drooping eyelids and faltering coherence in answers did not prevent son from continuing to ask questions.

"Is that the bad guy, Daddo?"

"Huh? I don't... think so."

"Is he gonna get'em?"

"Who? Uh, everything's going to be ok in the end. Just watch the movie, OK?"

When movie was finally over, humble author realized had been asleep and did not know who committed second murder. Rewound tape about 5 minutes and watched end again. When movie was finished, it was bedtime for son who asked to watch 'the snake one' tomorrow night.

Hopefully in future, number one son will remember watching Charlie Chan with father as a small boy just as humble author does.