Patrick Swayze 1952 – 2009 R.I.P.

I was sitting in a meeting of the Herb Society of Central Florida Monday night when my iPhone alerted me that actor Patrick Swayze had passed away. Though expected, due to his pancreatic cancer, it was still a sad occurrence.

When most people think about and remember Patrick Swayze they almost inevitably cite his movie “Dirty Dancing” as their favorite. While I can appreciate their admiration because, to a certain extent, I share it, it was not my favorite of his screen appearances.

Here are my top three Patrick Swayze movies:

Number 3. Red Dawn – This was the first movie I saw Patrick Swayze in and is one of my favorite movies ever. The year it was released, 1984, was the era of Reagan, and the idea that we MIGHT be invaded on our own soil by our enemies was not an outlandish one. Swayze, as Jed Eckert, leads a group of teenagers in America’s Midwest against a Soviet invasion. The scene where they execute one of their own for betraying their location to the enemy is extremely intense. I know today that right-wing militias try to hold this movie up as an example of why they exist, but the players in this drama were simply good, patriotic people who could survive off the land and defended that land, not groups going around trying to stir up trouble.

Number 2. Ghost – In my heart of hearts I am a romantic. A romantic in the sense that I believe a man should do all he can for the love of his life; love her, defend her and do all he is able to show her his love. Swayze’s character Sam, dead though he may be, embodies all those aspects as he seeks to keep his Molly from harm. But that’s not why this is number two on my list of favorite Swayze movies. This movie is number two because every time I watched this film with a member of the opposite sex, I got lucky. Thanks Patrick!

Number 1. Road House – I’m sure the placement of this movie in the number one spot has to do with my years as a bouncer. Like the Zen bouncer Dalton that Swayze portrayed, I always tried to avoid having fights take place in the bar I worked, and I taught my crew the same. This is my favorite exchange between Dalton and the bouncers he is training at the Double Deuce:

“All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary. And three, be nice. If somebody gets in your face and calls you a c**ks****r, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won’t walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can’t walk him, one of the others will help you, and you’ll both be nice. I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice.”

“How will we know when it’s time to not be nice?”

“I’ll tell you when it’s time to not be nice.”

Ah, those days are SO far behind me now, but they were fun in the day and they led me to the love of my life so I have a certain fondness for remembering them, lol.

Finally, I’ve been thinking all day about what I would write as a farewell to Patrick Swayze’s life, but this evening I read the following from actor/director Kevin Smith and he said it all so much better than I ever could.

“Dalton’s closed the Double Deuce. Sam can finally rest. Bodhi’s catching that last, big wave. Godspeed, Mr. Swayze. Many thanks for many Friday nights: RED DAWN, OUTSIDERS, YOUNGBLOOD, DIRTY DANCING, ROAD HOUSE, GHOST, POINT BREAK. Hope you had the time of your life.”

As do we all. Rest In Peace Patrick Swayze.

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