Goldie Hawn turns 66: A sweaty teenager's salute to 'Private Benjamin'
One of the most awkward dates in my ENTIRE LIFE happened during a Goldie Hawn movie. It was 1980 and I was at long-since-demolished theater in downtown Clearwater, Fla., watching Private Benjamin, the R-rated flick starring Hawn as a high society woman who mistakenly joins the Army after her husband dies on their wedding night.
Not only was it my first R-rated film, it was also my first big date with my brand-new girlfriend Janette. Sounds good so far, right? But no. We were both 13 years old and unable to see the movie alone. So her MOM, who not only drove us to the theater and bought our tickets, also had to come inside AND SIT RIGHT BEHIND US.
Every snicker from during an inappropriate scene brought a loud cough from behind my head. Every time my arm went to go around lovely Janette, I swear I could feel a foot kick my seat. And then, during the part of the movie when Hawn and her fellow misfit recruits were getting high in the swamp, Janette decided to make HER move. She swooped in for some serious ... oh, shall we just say necking? "Your mom is right behind us!" I protested. "So what?" Janette countered, undeterred. She was getting some lip time. RIGHT NOW. Parenting be DAMNED. I swear I could feel the hot breath of an older, very irritated woman in one ear while Janette nibbled on the other. If someone had plunged a knife into my spleen at that very moment, I would not have been surprised. I might have appreciated the sweet escape.
Meanwhile, on screen, Goldie Hawn's Army career was about to be rescued. And sitting in a red, velveted chair, my teenage career as a movie-house lothario was about to cruelly and prematurely crushed.
And then, magically, the most unlikely of events unfolded. Her mom stood up ... and moved. To the other side of the theater! Sweet liberty! I was suddenly free to be a teenager! The rest of the movie passed in a blur of sweaty wrestling. Next thing, I remember, the house lights came on, the mom had reappeared, and it was back to reality for all of us.
To this day, I've never seen Private Benjamin's conclusion. Private Judy Benjamin is lost in time. I sort of like it that way.
Goldie Hawn turns 66 years old today. I feel like I owe her a special birthday thanks for her guardian angelic powers that guided me through that awkward night. This list is for you, Goldie. And for you too, Janette. As for your mom, well, her heart was in the right place.
TOP 5 GOLDIE HAWN MOVIES OF THE '80s:
5. SWING SHIFT (1984): "Hazel... we showed 'um didn't we."
4. BEST FRIENDS (1982): "Breasts too large, Richard? Every female character you create has breasts too large."
3. OVERBOARD (1987): "I'm a short, fat slut."
2. SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES (1980): "I have a headache in my entire body."
1. PRIVATE BENJAMIN (1980): "I mean look at this place. The army couldn't afford drapes? I'll be up at the crack of dawn here!"