What Chris Chambers Means To Me, by Leenie Gabe

Chris Chambers from a fan

A fan of the movie “Stand By Me” shared this on my Stand By Me Day July 23rd Facebook page. I think you should read it and remember that not all movies are just entertainment. Look at what this movie has done for so many fans…

Having just passed the 30 year anniversary of the classic movie “Stand By Me”, I was scrolling through the popular “Stand By Me Day” Facebook page with all its marvelous photos of the filming locations in Brownsville, Oregon, where this year, the biggest celebration was held in honor of the movie’s anniversary. Looking at the bridge and the roads that I recognize from the movie, surrounded by loyal fans, and listening to Wil Wheaton’s video where he remembers the whole experience from a 12 year old’s perspective, I found myself thinking about Chris Chambers. Not River Phoenix, although from everything I’ve read, the two were pretty much the same, but Chris Chambers. I’m thinking about that kid in the white t-shirt with the cigarette hanging from his mouth, delivering his young words of surprising wisdom and wondering “why am I, along with so many others, so intrigued and captivated by this person? Not “character,” but this “person?” Before I knew it, my hand started scribbling and this is what I wrote down as I sat at Barnes & Noble today sipping iced tea on this beautiful, sunny, ungodly hot afternoon.
Chris Chambers wouldn’t have laughed at “Lard Ass” Davie Hogan. Maybe he would have at first, just to go along with the rest of the kids, but he would have felt badly about it and probably would have ended-up befriending him. Chris Chambers was a potential friend to everyone. Despite his harsh upbringing with his alcoholic, abusive father, he retained a soft spot. A real empathy with people, one that was far beyond his years. He was an adolescent boy with an adult’s thinking and conversational skills that could hold-up with any adult’s. He also possessed an intriguing mix of teenage angst and unsurety which ironically ran along beside the knowledge that whatever you really want you can achieve no matter how high the chips are stacked against you. Even though he says to Gordie, “I’m never gonna get out of this town, am I Gordie?” to which Gordie replies “you can do anything you want, man,” I think he knows deep-down that anything is possible if he can just believe enough in himself. In fact, he and Gordie provide for each other the confidence that they seem to lack within themselves. That’s what best friends do for each other. In the end, they both do in fact, have what it takes to succeed.
“Stand By Me” is a story of four boys about to enter junior high school as well as the beginnings of manhood, who oscillate between wondering whether or not Goofy is a dog, to realizing that God gives some people gifts and it’s a sin if they allow them to be lost. It’s a see-saw that accurately portrays the tug-of-war between childhood and adulthood, and just like their adventure-on-foot, it’s fraught with all kinds of potential dangers. Chris Chambers is the nucleus of this story. Even though it’s Gordie’s perspective and narration, it’s clear that Chris is the main character. He’s the friend we all wish we had. The unconditional support that’s always waiting to throw an arm around our shoulder but also the boot that’s waiting to kick us in the backside when we stray too far from our truth. He’s on our side-even through the glass screens of our televisions or the darkness of the theater. He’s there. A friend. A magnetic support for both our insecurities and our dreams. As the last line in the movie reads: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” I have to answer to that question..no. I do not. And I did not. And that’s why I love Chris Chambers. His loyalty was not lost on me, even though we never knew each other. Even though he’s not even real. And yet, he’s real enough for me, as he must be for so many others or we wouldn’t have all these fan pages. His message was loud and clear. Don’t waste what God gave you. And if and when I do forget, Chris, please kick me in the pants so in the end, I don’t lose it all. And most importantly, I’ll always remember that if I can gut it out, like you did in your college courses, I can do anything I want.
Leenie Gabe 8-10-16

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *