Last night as I was walking to a liquor store to buy a bottle of Tito’s to be enjoyed with a friend who will be staying at our apartment for the next couple nights as she transitions into the next stage of her life, I heard a noise in the hall or on the street or somewhere around my head that reminded me of a moment in “Beauty and the Beast” (the [Angela Lansbury version of the] song) so I pulled out my phone and changed the music to that particular track and was satisfied. It was the song I wanted to hear at that moment and hearing it made me feel good in the way songs do when we’re really listening to them.
By the third block of my five-block walk I remembered a moment, maybe 1994 or so, when I watched Beauty and the Beast for the first time. I had seen it before, obviously, but I guess I’d always written it off as the Disney movie my sister and mother liked more than Aladdin - my favorite at the time. My father was away for the weekend on a yearly camping trip he took with his old friends, so it was just my sister and mother and me at home. Maybe my brother was out with his friends. Maybe just in his room. In any case, he wasn’t in the living room with us when my mom or my sister suggested that we all watch a movie together. Of course, I thought. Yes. A movie would be fun. A movie would be the best! But I didn’t get to choose and whoever did get to choose chose Beauty and the Beast. I remember groaning, at least internally. I wanted to watch Aladdin again because I always wanted to watch Aladdin again but who cares no matter my mom made hot chocolate.
(I don’t actually remember her making hot chocolate that night, but I do know she regularly made hot cocoa when we watched movies as a family on Saturday nights in the winter.)
It was cold that night, or as cold as Texas tends to get in the winter, and we all cuddled up on the couch under this big blue quilt that my parents still have and has likely existed since the beginning of time or at least since my parents were married. I have a very clear memory of the movie beginning and seeing the stained glass prologue and thinking, “Wow,” or something similar to “wow” and spent the following however many minutes captivated. The songs! The emotions! The beauty! The beast! I laughed so hard at the talking wardrobe and rewound the scene when she jumps off a balcony and onto a pitchfork-carrying townsperson.
I don’t want to say this is one of the most blissful memories from my childhood, but I think maybe it might be one of the most blissful memories from my childhood! Just sitting on the couch with my mom and sister drinking hot chocolate in the Texas cold watching Beauty and the Beast. Feeling warm and safe and happy and quietly deciding that Aladdin and The Lion King weren’t nearly as good as this story about a fucked up French village.
The only ~Disney Renaissance~ movie that’s better is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Let’s fight.