In 1985, I went to the movie house with my friends and watched The Goonies. Actually, I’m just assuming I did because I’m from a small town and on Friday nights my friends and I were usually either at the Family Recreation Center or we were at the movies. I don’t actually remember my first time watching The Goonies. It has become one of those I have watched so much that I can’t really remember a time before I knew Mikey and the gang. I will say that from the first watch I felt like an honorary Goonie. Thankfully, it wasn’t until many years later that I discovered otherwise.
As one typically does when imagining one’s own story I pictured myself in the role of Mikey. You know, the leader of the group. The one everyone else flocks to. In short, the hero (or heroine in my case). Finding the treasure would be great but secondary to the adventure itself. Climbing down a drain? Following a dark tunnel? Avoiding booty-traps (you mean booby-traps? That’s what I said)? Finding a pirate ship? Yes, please!
For almost 30 years I stood at the ready waiting for my Goonie adventure.
And then one day, when I served as a youth leader, my time came. The ward’s Young Men leader was taking the youth on a day activity to explore a cave. My time had come at last. He asked if I wanted to go and of course I did. I was, after all, a self-proclaimed honorary Goonie.
The day came and I was still excited. I mean, I was going to crawl into a cave with an opening the size of manhole and go exploring. My honorary status was expiring and I felt certain I would be a full-fledged member after that day.
The first obstacle came when we needed to cross a river by jumping. It wasn’t a very big river, more like a ditch. But try as I might I couldn’t convince myself to make my feet leave the ground. They wouldn’t budge. The Young Men leader had to make special accommodations to get me across the river. Embarrassing? Yes, but I still wanted to get inside that cave. I could redeem myself once inside. We walked up the hill and to the cave’s entrance.
Let me remind you, I was a youth leader at this point. Which means I was older than everyone else except the Young Men’s leader – who is in very good shape and does this kind of thing on a regular basis. By the time we reached the cave’s entrance, I was a bit winded from the climb. But still excited to get into the cave.
Once we all climbed in through the small opening we were able to stand up in the cave. So, it wasn’t that small. But it was dark. We turned on our headlamps and started to make our way down the corridor. It was at this precise moment I made a new discovery about myself. I, apparently, am claustrophobic. I didn’t want it to be so but the more we walked the more I realized I was actually panicking. At first, I tried to ignore that sensation but the farther in we walked the more I realized my thoughts were becoming heavy.
I wanted to keep going but I realized that some point I might become immobile with illogical fear. That would be worse. Finally, I spoke up to the Young Men leader. He walked me back to the entrance. Turns out all that thought process probably took less than five minutes. We had not gone very far.
I climbed out the small opening and walked back down the hill. When I came to the river, I didn’t even try to jump but just walked across it. To add to the experience, I fell in halfway through and was soaking wet by the time I reached the car. I quickly changed clothes so that my fellow travelers wouldn’t know about that part when they returned (although I ended up telling them anyway).
Thus ended my one and only Goonie-like adventure.
Was I embarrassed? Yes. On so many levels.
But more than that I was disappointed. It was that day that I felt my honorary Goonie-status had been revoked. I was not fit to join the club. No pirate treasure adventures for me.