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John Lamb, Published September 19 2009

Lamb: Swayze never swayed me

I would bet the most popular Facebook status updates this week were “I had the time of my life,” or “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

I didn’t cry when Patrick Swayze died. He wouldn’t have wanted it that way. Oh, and I never bought him as an actor. A dude with a steely glare, an awesome mullet, shirts that never buttoned past the rib cage and pants so tight he could only waddle as stiffly as he acted? Hollywood hunk? Maybe. But someone I wanted to pay to watch? Nope.

Two years ago one of my editors, Mary Jo Hotzler, was shocked that I, an arts, entertainment and pop culture reporter, had never seen “Dirty Dancing.” So shocked that the next day she brought in a DVD copy for me to watch.

I promptly brought it home and ignored it for two years. She never asked for it back because I think she has different copies for every day of the week.

There were reasons for not being at all curious. Shortly after it came out in 1987, I figured I knew what I needed to know through trailers, videos and other clips: A coming-of-age story at the end of an era about a girl becoming a woman in the arms of a mystery man who discovers who he really is. Cue swelling, joyous music and dance montage. And … cut. Got it.

But Monday night, I finally gave the late, not-so-great actor a break.

The result? It wasn’t as bad as I thought – it was worse. The only tears I shed were from laughing so hard at Baby’s line, “… and most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.”

“You mean sweaty?” I thought.

And as for that classic line, Baby wasn’t in a corner. She had her back to a wall. Swayze apparently had a hard time with that line. I don’t blame him. I couldn’t have delivered it with a straight face.

I’ll give Swayze a hand for his footwork. The guy was a mighty fine hoofer. That is until it turned into a four-on-the-floor “Solid Gold” dance orgy starring Denney Terrio.

And Johnny Castle, the rebel wrapped inside a mystery, strapped inside a tight black T-shirt? He was more interesting in “The Outsiders” when they called him Darry.

That’s the thing. Like Tom Cruise, Swayze’s roles always seem to be a variation on the same stoic, thoughtful man who comes across as cold, but deep down has a heart of gold and fists of fury.

Maybe if he would’ve combined all these roles into one awesome action-packed romance flick like, “Dirty Red Dog Kin Point Ghost House Outsiders,” it wouldn’t have taken me 22 years to see it. That movie would probably be on Spike TV every night.

“Dirty Dancing” wasn’t the time of my life, but it did give me the laugh of a night, so it wasn’t all bad.


Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533