Goddamnit, cancer. Why are you SUCH A DICK? Why'd you gotta take down Patrick Swayze's pancreas like that? That was really, really cold. We still needed him (and, by extension, his pancreas) for earth purposes, but you just went ahead and yoinked the both of them right up to that great big fading Catskills resort in the sky. So thanks. Thanks a lot. That's called sarcasm, cancer.
Swayze—he of the grinding groin and the pachanga and the half-orc brother (not to kick you when you're down, Don Swayze, but that FACE is CRAZY!)—was what one might call Lindy West's First Crush. Dirty Dancing was a formative force in my development as a small heterosexual human (supplementary materials: the music videos for Billy Idol's "Cradle of Love," Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory," and Warrant's "Cherry Pie"). In the year 1989, I was probably not old enough to be watching Dirty Dancing, and I sure as shit had no idea what I was looking at most of the time (back-alley abortia-who?), but I knew that this "Johnny Castle" person with the lady-haircut and the high-waisted tights was my kind of situation. I had never noticed such a thing before. And even later in life, once I figured out my type (dirtbag) and Swayze was getting a little silly (hairdo), I still had a soft spot for the guy as big as Jennifer Grey's original nose. ZING! But seriously, I mean it. These emotions are true.
Dude was hot, with a sweet, painful sincerity and very tight pants and a good-humored understanding of his own inherent camp (see: Donnie Darko, To Wong Foo, the SNL Chippendales sketch). And once you start thinking about it, he was the tender, beating heart of about a million chunks of seminal American cinematic kitsch: I mean, my god, Point Break and Road House and Red Dawn and The Outsiders and FUUUCK, I LOVE THAT DUDE. Ghost! Swayze! Pottery! Sweet gherkin!
You can celebrate Swayze in all his finery this Wednesday and Thursday (Sept 16–17) at Central Cinema, where, in an astounding coincidence of timing and tragedy, they're hosting Crazy About Swayze, featuring a screening of Road House and a "pre-show candlelight Swayze-sing-along goodbye." Really, it's the least you can do. He's been there for you all these years. And the next time I see cancer, I'm kicking it in the fucking nuts. My first crush is dead now. RIP, Swayze. Hug Jerry Orbach for me. Hug him close.