Everyone — particularly lovers of genre movies — needs a movie buddy.  Certainly, there’s something to be said for watching a movie by yourself, especially if the film is cerebral and requires focus and concentration. But genre movies lend themselves to the buddy system, because, for the most part, their premises are absolutely harebrained. Take Robocop, for instance.  I can’t even write the sentence dead cop gets reconstructed as a cyborg to be the ultimate law-enforcement machine without rolling my eyes.  Every now and then, you need a buddy to lean to, to tap on the shoulder and whisper, I can’t believe that crap I just saw.

I remember seeing Robocop in the theater.  When it came out, I was barely out of middle-school, having finally packed my Transformers and Gobots, still in robot form, into cardboard boxes and stashed them in the basement of our house — where memories go to die.   My sister, who is nine years older than me, was my ticket into R-rated movies.  Not that theaters were more strict about their age policy back then, but I wasn’t about to take a chance.  I was a good boy.

So my sister, in effect, was my movie buddy.  I’m not sure who had convinced whom to go see Robocop, but most likely I was the guilty party.  When, during the movie, the fake ad for the board game “Nukem” came on, we howled with laughter:  Are you serious?  Surely, they can’t be serious.

As I entered high school, our buddy system continued, but in a new incarnation.  We no longer saw movies together; instead, we merely told our parents that we did, which allowed:  1) me to see a late-night movie, and 2) her to go out with her friends.  So, on Friday and Saturday nights, she dropped me off in downtown Denver, at the brand-new Tivoli Center with the 12-theater AMC.  I saw mostly schlocky horror (The Guardian, The Exorcist III, Repossessed), while she went to any number of downtown Denver nightclubs (23rd Parish, Fish Dance).  Afterward the movie, I go next door to the diner and order a plate of atomic fries, eating them one at a time, until she arrived to pick me up.  For the life of me, I can’t remember what made those fries ‘atomic.’

On the nights my sister was late or didn’t show up until the clubs had closed, I wandered the bowels of the Tivoli, following side halls and stairways that seemed to go nowhere.  The whole complex seemed to be a work in progress:  exposed pipes, floor tiles waiting to be laid, plastic sheets taped floor to ceiling to indicate that I shouldn’t go any further (I did).  I dodged security guards and often found myself standing before the boiler room — not The Boiler Room, the brew pub on the other side of the movie theater — but the room that hissed and sighed like it was full of deflating balloons.  On those nights, I became my own movie buddy, leaning against a sheet of drywall and asking myself, Remember that scene where the guy gets covered in toxic waste? so that I could reply, Oh, yeah, that was cool.