OH, I did get to have a true and honest FANDANGO this summer!



I completely spaced this one, but yeah – the summer details would be incomplete without a review of what ended up becoming one of the most fun ‘guys only’ escape weekends I’ve had in a long while.

The story goes like this:

In 1985, this small film came out, called “Fandango”. The film was set in May of 1971, when five guys, “The Groovers”, either attend their own graduations, or, not making their grades, get drafted in to the Army. With three or four days to report to duty, they decide, impromptu, to go on one last “Fandango” together before they all have to grow up and move on with their lives. The title of the film has three meanings:

1)A lively type of music,

2) The dance that accompanies said music, and

3) A foolish Act.

All three themes are hit over the next 90 minutes. Budding actors Judd Nelson, Kevin Costner, Sam Robards, and Chuck Bush, among others, filmed this thing in FAR WEST TEXAS in March and April of 1983.

Somehow, I ended up watching the flick in the late 80’s, and to this day, the film hits me in a soft spot. The movie is about growing up, not knowing what your future is, enjoying the last vestiges of youth, and the bonds and tests of friendship. The music accompanying the film is spot on, and the scenes of love and loss and adventure in this remote-as-hell part of Texas ring true to me, 25 or more years later. I bought the VHS cassette and pretty much wore it out, memorized the lines, and showed it to buddies and girlfriends alike, but none of them really seemed to ‘Get It’. So, I just locked the movie in the back of my brain, watched it when it came on from time to time, and generally lost interest.

It wasn’t until about 2006 that I stumbled across an entire website, dedicated to the film, and to the actors and locations where it was filmed. It was like finding a lost tribe or family. We posted comments, garnered facts, quoted lines, pondered what-ifs, etc. It was really, really fun! I felt like some of the Harry Potter fans who write fan-fiction about minor characters and such. It was just an absolute blast. Then, when the time came for all of us to try and come together and participate in an “ULTIMATE FANDANGO” , well, I was in!

Now, before we begin with our own Fandango, there’s one more thing you need to know. In the mid 1980’s, at the school I attended, I was friends with probably the smartest guy in the school. His name was David, and we traveled to England together on an ecumenical youth conference, as well as all through school together, for six years. He wasn’t as much of an athlete as I was, but we were often in the same class together, served as class officers together, and he was just one of those rare, non-agenda, random good guys. AND, he was SHARP with his words. He later became a lawyer and now teaches Government in Dallas. We hadn’t really talked for over 20 years, but through that miracle known as Facebook, we ended up chatting, and I invited him to my birthday party, which he attended, along with his Gorgeous girlfriend, a lady of international class.

David McCoy - my adventurous buddy.

During that party, my forthcoming trip out west came up, and David suddenly announced that not only had he seen and loved the film (it’s about the University of Texas, which he attended), but that he had never, ever been out that way before! I offered to bring him along, and surprisingly, he said yes! COOL! I got a wingman!

And honestly, once we got out there, I was GLAD to have him, in more ways than one!

We left on a Thursday afternoon in mid-July, and flew out west to Midland. Here’s the first fun but serious anecdote. I show up with a Clive Cussler serial novel that I just picked up at the airport bookstore. He shows up with “The History of Western Philosophy”… and he’s actually reading and highlighting it. For fun. THAT is the level of genius this guy is on. I was transfixed. We caught up over the hour of the flight, got our car, and drove over to the hotel, where we each got a room, despite that whole area playing host to about 200 softball tournaments. Then we drove over to the official hotel, where we ended up meeting about two dozen other “Fandangoistes”, and none other than Chuck Bush, the character in the film who has very few lines, but plays perhaps the most important role in the whole story, as the pillar of confidence and quiet intelligence, as well as being almost everyone’s moral compass through his deeds and actions. Chuck is HUGE, but he’s also the sweetest guy on the planet, and I knew that his stories about the shoot were going to be priceless.

Chuck Bush with his fans

Seeing him, I had to play a quick little trick. We meet, shake hands, engage in small talk, and then, in front of everyone, I pull out of my pocket a roll of quarters, and tell him, “Now can I get you to finish rinsing me off?” It pertains to a line in the film where Judd Nelson is getting a ‘shower’ of sorts in a car wash, and the guys run out of quarters, just as “Philip” is covered in soap. It’s just one of a million little moments in the film that everyone would remember, and it set the entire room laughing. We knew it was going to be a blast from that point forward.

Fandango at the Drive-In

From there, we all drove over to Midland’s Drive-In Theatre, where, for one night only, “Fandango” was showing, 25 years after its’ first release. David and I hopped back on to the highway, found a Wal-Mart, bought some folding chairs, and then got back to the Drive-In just in time to indulge in some ‘famous’ drive-in food and desserts, and then watch the film.

Fried Cheese Jalapeno Peppers! MMM!

Sunset at the Drive In

Okay – there’s more to this story, but I’m running out of time, so I better get going. I’ll write Part 2 in a couple of days. Hang in there.


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