LOTR and Me


I love it when my children share; it warms my heart.  I get a little irritated, however, when they share their viruses, which is what they’ve been doing this weekend.  I’m spending the day checking temperatures and doling out meds and beverages.  To lift our spirits (and keep us still), we are watching “The Trilogy.”  That’s what I call The Lord of the Rings.  There are many trilogies, but, for me, there’s only one.  I like to remember how I was first introduced to it.  It involves eating crow and embarrassing myself in a movie theater.  Perhaps it will amuse you today.

Karl was a fan long before I.  He had read the books many years ere I met him. When The Fellowship of the Ring hit movie theaters Christmas 2001, he was there.  Hannah was 2, Benj was about 1.5 years old, and Noah’s birth was imminent; I didn’t get out much.

Truth?  I was not the least bit interested in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  But for good reason: trilogies were my enemy.  You see, Karl is also a fan of the Star Wars franchise.  Words cannot describe his affection for SW….I’ll say this: beside our wedding portrait stands the huge Imperial shuttle, Tydirium.

In 2001, we had survived the disappointment known as The Phantom Menace and were anticipating the release of Attack of the Clones in 2002.  Revenge of the Sith was merely a promising twinkle in Karl’s eye.  He was in the process of collecting action figures, and it was driving me a little batty.  So you can understand how the thought of endorsing another trilogy sent me into angry fits.

I refused to see LOTR just for spite.

This is how I remember my repentance.  In 2003, after The Two Towers was released on DVD, I saw a little of it as I passed through the family room.  (By this time I had four children; Abbey was just an infant.)  The music alone piqued my interest.  Knowing me like he does, he knew I would enjoy the movies if I just gave them a moment.  He invited me to sit beside him and watch for a few minutes.  I think it was seeing Treebeard that sealed the deal for me.  How could I not fall in love with a walking, talking tree?  After my interest was “full-on,” he stopped Two Towers and happily put Fellowship in the DVD player.

He may have gloated a bit about being right.  He came home from work the next day and caught me watching them again.  “Oh, you don’t like those movies,” he quipped.

My mission became reading the trilogy before The Return of the King premiered in theaters.  With 3 small children and an infant needing my constant attention, my reading time only came during naps and after their bedtime.  If you’ve read the books, then you know that one does not simply rush through Tolkien; he is savored.  I hadn’t enough time to read the final chapter before the date set for movie-going.

I remember that evening like it was yesterday.  As Karl was pulling our swagger wagon into a parking space at the theater, I was reading of Frodo’s entering Shelob’s lair.  Talk about a terrible stopping point!  Sick with anticipation, I did my best to settle in and not annoy everyone in the packed theater due to a bad case of nerves-induced logorrhea.

But then it happened.  Shelob stabbed Frodo and began wrapping him up…well, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Karl had to whisper, “Be quiet and keep watching.”

The worst came nearer the end.  Sam and Frodo finally made it into Mt. Doom.  I had survived Sam’s carrying Frodo into the Crack of Doom with a few tears.  The lump in my throat made it difficult to breathe, but I recovered in time for my hands to grip Karl’s arm that much harder as I watched Frodo stand to drop the ring into the volcano.  “Do it. Just do it,” I said to myself.  But instead, as you probably know, he turned and put the ring on his finger with the words, “The ring is mine.”  I gasped and gave a loud, “NOOOO!  No, he didn’t!”  I could not believe it; I almost came out of my chair.  I must have been the only one because my exclamation was met with shushing from all around.  My date laughed at me.

I was a weepy mess through the credits.  I finished the book the following week.  And have finished it again and again the last 7 years.  I still dread the last chapter because I’m never ready for the adventure to end.

As I write this, the final credits for The Two Towers are rolling.  We’re taking a short intermission for refilling drinks and temp checks before we begin the final film.

That’s my LOTR story.  What’s yours?

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8 thoughts on “LOTR and Me

  1. My LOTR story revolves closely around my husband as well, though he was not my husband when the movies came out. My sophomore year of college (and KJ’s freshman) we had become friends and were involved in the same church college group. Right before Christmas break KJ and others organized a group to go see Fellowship, and KJ was telling me about it. It brought to my mind that I had read the Hobbit in junior high and started Fellowship but never finished it, so I was little familiar with the stories. KJ LOVED the books (and the old animated movies) and was super-excited about this release. Before we went to the movie we were going to be hanging out with a group of people, and KJ and I went to rent a movie to watch beforehand (we were going to the midnight premiere). This was the first time we ever went anywhere alone together, and we discovered we shared an affinity to old movies. We rented Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (much to our friends’ chagrin). We sat by each other in the movie, and I think there were some feelings in motion at that point. 🙂 By the time the next movie came out, we were very much in love and sat pretty close to each other in the movie theater if my memory serves me. I had gone to visit him and his family during Christmas break, and we watched Two Towers at the Summit in Birmingham. That Christmas I think KJ had made up his mind that was he was going to keep me around. His first Christmas gift to me was an $80 set of the Trilogy, hard backed and illustrated. He told me later it was an investment. When the Return of the King was released we were in engaged, and KJ was in China on a mission trip with UM. I was at home and had other friends excited about the movie’s release as well, so KJ graciously agreed for me to see it before him. I went to the premiere in Huntsville with my brothers and friends from my church in Arab. When KJ came home from China I was at his house waiting and we went to see it together. In our college and early-marriage days we never went anywhere without listening to the soundtrack. We also spent a lot of time watching the movies at home along with all the appendices. Return of the King was the book I took with me on our honeymoon. I think LOTR is the background story of our lives.

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    1. I’ll only add that I included the movies as markers in our relationship in my proposal poem. The line I best remember is that “We watched the Two Towers as lovers do…” The LOTRs and the Silmarillion will probably always be my go-to pleasure reading.

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  2. I read Lord of the Rings somewhere around Grade 8. At the time I was a huge fan of Harry Potter, and couldn’t imagine anything being better than that series… but when I finished the books I had to reluctantly admit it was “at least just as good.” Upon further reflection, I decided it was better. 🙂
    I like how you described your views on trilogies, though my experience was almost opposite yours. I eagerly looked forward to all the LOTR movies, but I swore I’d never watch Star Wars because it looked so geeky and dumb. Then I watched the original 3 and LOVED them. I haven’t ever got around to watching the new prequels though… I’ve heard they’re horrible and they’ll probably wreck it for me…

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