Category Archives: Pamela’s Prayer
The next scene after graduation (I suppose we can assume that about a week has gone by) Frederick swings by
the ugliest house in the world Casa Buckland. It’s an unexpected call, and for a couple of unexpected reasons.
Frederick asks to start working at the Film Library full time!
Frederick: Mr. Buckland, I’d like to start working full time at the library, try to help more with the ministry. I really feel like this is what the Lord wants for me to do. I talked it over with my parents but I know you have the final word. Just wanted to let your know.
Ha! The “just wanted to let you know” makes it sound like Freddy is just planning to show up Monday morning, whether Wayne agrees to this or not. Just wanted to let you know! 😀
Wayne: Well, this comes as a surprise. I was thinking with you graduating, I’d be losing you at the end of the summer. Now you want to stay on full time.
Um, yes, Wayne…he just said that.
(Also, insert your own “Wayne ‘losing’ Freddy” joke here.)
Despite his alleged surprise, Wayne needs no time to “think about it, pray about it“—he hires Frederick on the spot.
But Fred’s not done yet!
Freddy: Oh, there is one other thing. I was going to take a ride over to the rock formations and if it’s okay with you and okay with Pamela, I was wondering if she’d like to come along?
Damn, that Freddy has balls of solid steel. “Hey, boss, wanna hire me for full-time, like now? Also, can I date your only daughter? Like, now?
Hilariously, Pamela looks to her father for permission, raising her eyebrows, as the plinkety-plink music of goofiness plays.
Next shot: Frederick and Pamela driving to the rock formation. So one of two things happened: either Freddy and Pam murdered Wayne and are running away into the mountains forever, or b) Wayne allowed Pamela to go on a date.
Either way, my mind is blown.
I mean, honestly, what has changed? We “know how [Wayne] feels about dating.” NO dating, no matter what. There was never any time limit or condition on this feeling. Granted, Pamela is now a high school graduate and an official grown-up (I suppose), but she also lives at home and works* for her dad.
*It is never, for the rest of the film, established what Pamela does with her days. Presumably, with Freddy working full time for her dad, her work is no longer required. After all, Wayne and his dad ran the business alone for decades. (And I remain shocked that this place can support not one, but two households.) Anyway, we never see Pamela going to school or getting a different job, though she does appear to occasionally help out at the library (she brings the men lunch at least once). So I guess, like the spinsters of old, the plan was always for her to live at home, cooking and cleaning for her dad and helping in little ways at his business, until the suitable man (quite literally) knocked at the door.
Anyway, even on her second not-really-a-date ever, Wayne is never far from Pamela’s thoughts. Her very first words to Freddy, once they reach the rock formation, are:
Pamela: My grandfather used to bring my dad up here a lot when he was a little boy. Said that this was a good praying spot.
The conversation quickly turns serious: Pamela discusses the fact that her parents were in their thirties when they met (why she brings this up is anybody’s guess, though it does make me wonder if Wayne and Sarah both waited for their wedding day, when they were both in their thirties, to kiss anyone). Anyway, Freddy takes this as an invitation to ask how Pamela’s mom died. (????) Pamela reveals that Sarah died of an amniotic fluid embolism, a very rare pregnancy complication. I’m a bit confused as to why this information is presented to the viewer now, as opposed to, say, at the beginning of the movie, right after Sarah’s death. Unless, of course, the idea is the assure Freddy and the viewers that although Sarah died in childbirth, it was nothing that would affect Pamela’s ability to spawn.
Despite this sad line of conversation, Pamela states that she has enjoyed herself on this odd little “date.” This leads to our next montage, in which Freddy appears in every facet of Wayne and Pamela’s lives: working at the film library with them, attending church with them, watching a Christian film with them. (Where are your parents, Freddy? I know you have them, because you mentioned them. Don’t they ever want to spend time with you?)
This montage apparently covers quite the passage of time, because we leave the montage at “December 1990,” at War on Christmastime. To review, Pamela was born in January of 1969. Which means she is just about to turn twenty-one. Which means it’s been between three and four YEARS since she and Freddy started courting.
And now I have to wonder if they have ever spent any time alone together since that sad rock formation “date.”
We know it’s the War on Christmas, because a jarring, all-bells version of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” jangles in the background as Wayne fusses ineffectually with some ornaments. Freddy pulls up in his truck (he’s been driving it since graduation, so I assume that it’s his, bought with his after-school earnings). Honestly, it’s not the vehicle I expected from a prepster like Freddy. I would have figured him for a Volvo wagon kind of guy. Freddy looks a bit nervous and uptight, almost as if he had something important on his mind…
Really, with that hat on the wall and that plastic bow on the door? Boy, don’tcha miss the eighties?
It’s worth noting that even after working for him and courting his daughter for this long, Frederick still calls Wayne “Mr. Buckland.” He compliments the decorating scheme, which sucks more than a little bit, but Pamela did it, so Freddy is no fool. Since Pam is still making some last ornaments in her room, Freddy has the opportunity to pop the question…to Wayne.
Freddy: Mr. Buckland, there’s something I’d like to ask you.
Freddy: Mr. Buckland, I’d like to ask you for your permission to marry Pamela. I love her very much, sir, and I know she’s the one the Lord has for me.
The one the Lord HAS for him? That is just so weird. Did the actor miss a word or two? I would have thought the phrase would be, “the one the Lord has in mind for me,” but that is not what Freddy says. Anyone ever heard this one before?
Anyway, Wayne gets the slimiest look on his face, and the weirdest tone in his voice as he quizzes Freddy:
Wayne: How do you know that, Frederick?
I say “quizzes” because that’s what it sounds like: like a teacher asking a student a question to which it is certain the student knows the answer. Like a parent asking a child, “What do we say?” when the child forgets a “please.”
Frederick: Well, when I was younger, I told the Lord that I wanted to marry the girl that he wanted me to. So I promised him that I wouldn’t kiss a girl until my wedding day. And if I did that, if I waited, he’d show me who the right girl was by bringing me someone who did the same thing. I know Pamela’s that girl.
Wayne turns away and smirks the smirk of someone who has been proved to be Right All Along. Pamela trots down the stairs into the living room and we see the passage of time by the fact that she has chopped her long hair off. You can see the true love between Freddy and Pam as they have the following deep and tender conversation:
Pam: How are you?
Fred: Good. How are you?
Given this proof of deep and abiding love, Wayne signals his assent with a nod to Freddy, who just pops the question (again), right then and there, in front of Wayne. (He doesn’t even get down on one knee, the jerk.)
Freddy: Pamela, I was just talking with your father. I love you very much and I want you to be my wife.
Pamela smiles, and immediately looks to Wayne, who nods his assent. Good thing too, because we wouldn’t want Pamela to make a decision for herself or anything.
Freddy: Pamela, will you marry me?
Pam: Yes. I’d love to.
And Wayne immediately comes over and hugs them, and he kisses Pamela (on the forehead) and shakes Freddy’s hand. And since he steps between Pam and Freddy and hugs each with one arm, the two lovebirds don’t even come within 18 inches of each other in this whole scene! What, no firm handshake? No high five? No friendly thump on the shoulder?
Kidding aside, you know what’s really sad? Pamela never says she loves Frederick, in this scene or any other. She says she’d love to marry him, but that’s…not the same thing.
Next scene: “November 8, 1991,” (a Friday, so presumably the wedding will be the next day, Saturday, because we’re at the rehearsal).
Wait a second. Freddy proposed at War on Christmastime, 1990. Now it’s November of the next year. So it took eleven months to plan this wedding? What the hell, WHY??? They’re getting married in the same church they’ve attended for years, with a guest list of…I guess you could say ones of people.
SO WHAT TOOK SO LONG???
After the miming of the walking back up the aisle, Wayne corners Freddy.
Wayne: How you feeling?
Freddy: Good. I feel like the most blessed man on earth.
Wayne: That’s how I felt the night before I got married. I had so much joy in my heart I couldn’t contain myself.
Jesus, Wayne, could things be about someone other than you for, like, FIVE MINUTES?
No. No, they cannot. Wayne proceeds to give some nice, depressing advice to the young groom—that he only had two years with Sarah before she died, and you never know when your time is up.
Oh well, Freddy takes it in stride, and we cut to Wayne and Pamela, praying on her bed one last time.
It’s actually a pretty sucky prayer: Wayne basically just asks God to make sure Freddy and Pam stay Christians. The attempts to tug at heartstrings continue, as Wayne gives Pamela her mother’s cross, and they stare at each other a lot.
Is it just me, or does Jessica look way happier to be there than the bride or the groom?
(Also, Jessica just generally looks happy and well-adjusted. Not that I expected the movie to show her crying in the corner of the church or anything, but it looks like her one youthful regret isn’t stopping her from living a happy life.)
So, are you wondering about the word “obey”? I am!
Minister: Do you take Pamela to be your lawful wedded wife? To love her, honor her, provide for her, and lead her always in the name of our lord Jesus Christ?
Freddy: I do.
Minister: And Pamela, do you take Frederick to be your lawful wedded husband? To love him, care for him, respect him, and submit to his leadership in the name of our lord Jesus Christ?
Pamela: I do.
So, no “obey.” “Lead” and “submit,” though. And I doubt Freddy could lead a drunk to a pub, just sayin’.
And here we go, you guys—THE MOMENT WE HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!!!
Pamela’s (and Freddy’s) First Kiss Ever
Here we go!
Yeah, yeah, yeah…as usual, we don’t actually get to see a kiss in a Christian film.
A Christian film about kissing.
Pam and Freddy leeeean in—and cut to Wayne’s giant, smirking face.
Thus leaving us to conclude that the most important thing about Pamela’s first kiss ever is how it makes her father feel.
But I’m serious: remember how I said in the very beginning that the film lied about this being Pamela’s story—that it is really Wayne’s story? Well, Pamela goes to kiss her husband, we cut to Wayne’s face…and we never cut back to Pamela and Frederick. We don’t get any reaction from either of them. We never do get an answer to Jessica’s question: “So, what did you think of kissing–did you like it?”
From Wayne’s face, the very next shot is of Wayne arriving home after the wedding.
And how Wayne spends the evening of his daughter’s wedding day.
This is Wayne’s story, not Pamela’s.
The music of sadness plays as Wayne unwinds from the wedding: he removes his snap-on bowtie and wanders around the house, gazing longingly into Pamela’s Pamela-free bedroom. (Dude, creepy!)
Her changes clothes, then, inexplicably, makes himself a huge dinner-for-one, including TWO baked potatoes and TWO dinner roles. Then he fills an entire sink right to the top with soapy water in order to wash his one plate and glass.
Wayne, buddy, did you not just come from a wedding party? Eleven months of planning, and nobody thought to have a reception, or any kind of meal at all? What the hell? Shouldn’t Wayne have enough appetizers and dry chicken to last him a month?
Makes no sense.
A smaller point that also makes no sense: why didn’t Wayne invite his mom to spend the night at his place, or, better yet, spend the night at her place? That way, they could hang out and keep each other company and maybe have a good cry and not stare at Pamela’s empty room together.
But no, I guess Grandma (Pamela’s primary caretaker growing up, let’s remember) is on her own.
A bigger point: this really illustrates how empty Wayne’s life is. He’s been single for almost 22 years. And in all that time, it seems that not only has he not had a single date, but he doesn’t have a single friend. Just like with Pamela, we have no idea of anything about Wayne. Other than protecting his daughter’s lips and watching Christian films, what does he like to do? What are his hobbies, his interests? Who does he ever hang out with other than his daughter, his now-son-in-law/business partner, and his mother?
So why should I care that he’s feeling lonely, especially when he’s WASTING SO MUCH WATER JESUS CHRIST THE FAUCET DOESN’T HAVE TO RUN THE ENTIRE TIME YOU’RE WASHING DISHES STOP IT WAYNE.
Wayne reads for awhile as the music of sadness continues, and I wonder if Wayne is trying not to think about how much hot monkey sex his precious daughter is engaging in at that very moment. Heh.
He heads upstairs and gazes into Pamela’s room again, but levels up this time and goes to sit on her bed. (Dude, stop creeping!) Finally, he goes to his own bed, sheesh, and just as he is finishing his gazing at Sarah’s picture…the phone rings!
It’s Pamela, who sees nothing at all weird about calling her father on her wedding night. In fact, she wants to pray with him…”one more time.”
Wayne: Okay, if it’s alright with Frederick.
Daughter, are you properly submitting to the headship of your husband? You have been married for almost four hours, after all.
WHY IS SHE TALKING TO HER FATHER INSTEAD OF HAVING SEX WITH HER HUSBAND???
But I guess that first kiss that he waited a lifetime for, didn’t have that much impact on Freddy, either, as he is perfectly fine to let Pamela chat with her dad ON THEIR FREAKING WEDDING NIGHT I AM NEVER GETTING OVER THIS.
And Pamela asks that this time, she be the one who prays.
It is so sad that she had to wait until she was a married woman of 21, to be able to pray for herself.
Pamela: Dear Lord, thank you so much for my daddy.
Well, that’s it. That is officially Pamela’s Prayer.
We flash back over scenes that we might have forgotten, given that this movie is nearly one whole hour long (then again, it has taken me five installments to critique it, so…). Sarah heads to the hospital with the basketball, Wayne feeds the baby, Wayne signs “Happy Birthday” to his daughter before demanding to know what her private birthday prayer was, Jerry asks out Pamela, Jessica and Pamela chat, kids laugh at Pamela, Pamela confessions her sinful transgressions to Wayne, Wayne shows Freddy how Christian films work, Jessica has sex, Pamela settles for Freddy, Wayne prevents Pam and Freddy from showing any physical contact, even though they have just agreed to marry, and Pam and Freddy marry, both looking like they’re standing in line at a bank.
Wow, Pamela does have a lot to be grateful for.
So, the montage is it. Roll credits.
And the mystery remains unsolved.
What did Pamela think of kissing?
Rock on, Jessica. Rock on.
Later, after a montage of Freddy learning the ropes at Wayne’s Christian Film Emporium and Purity Mastery Hub, Wayne is all set to watch a new Christian film with Pamela. Now, I will happily admit that I was a big nerd in high school, and really did go out to the movies with my parents for fun, but even I think that sounds like the most boring thing in the world, unless you are using the film for Bad Movie Night.
Pamela actually blows Wayne off! Not because her father is a smug blowhard who drives her up a wall or anything, but because Jessica has a boyfriend and Pamela is sad.
But lo! The next day, a teary Jessica shows up at Casa Buckland (which, not to be a jerk or anything, but it may just be the ugliest house on the planet). And she tells Pamela a sad story:
Jessica: Last night, we went out for pizza and then we took a drive. We stopped and parked and made out and it was great. Then he said our relationship had reached a turning point and if we really loved each other we should… I can’t believe it happened. If I had said no, he would have thought that I didn’t love him. Oh, I should have known better after what he did to you. I feel so guilty; what am I gonna do?
Let’s be clear: the movie in no way wants us to think that this might have anything, ever, to do with the word “rape.” This is not about the dangers of date rape, but the dangers of dating a guy, or dating any guy, because he might, one day, guilt-trip you. And hell, for once, I agree with a Christian film when it comes to sex: I don’t think it’s rape, either. No matter her feelings of guilt now, Jessica didn’t say no at the time. Jerry’s a manipulative dickweed, but he’s not a rapist.
And speaking of manipulative dickweeds, Wayne learns of the event that evening from Pamela…
Pamela: She just wanted Jerry to love her, Dad, she didn’t want anything bad to happen.
Wayne: What are you talking about?
Pamela: Jessica…*sighs, sinks into chair*…went out with her boyfriend.
Wayne’s purity translator immediately alerts him that “went out with” means “had sex with.” We know this because the music of sadness and regret begins to play as Wayne, too, sinks into a chair.
You can tell by the look on Wayne’s face that he is coming to terms with the fact that Jessica’s entire life is now ruined forever, because she had sex with her boyfriend.
Pamela: She feels so guilty, she won’t forgive herself. What can I tell her?
Well, my first instinct is that she should make sure Jessica used protection, and if she didn’t, the window is still open for the morning after pill. But I have a funny feeling that my first instinct is not very RTC of me.
Wayne: The Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus.
Consenting sex between a boyfriend and girlfriend isn’t adultery, Wayne. Just so we’re clear.
Wayne: They said, “The law of Moses says to stone her.”
“But not the guy. Because guys can have as much sex as they want.”
Wayne: Jesus knew what they were up to. He said, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” One by one, they all left. Just the woman remained. Jesus said to her, “Did anyone condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.”
“And you should know that, since you’ve been standing here this whole time, Jesus!”
Wayne: He said, “Neither do I.” But then he gave her a command…
Pamela: “Go and sin no more”?
So, Pamela, give Jessica a command. That should do nothing but strengthen your friendship!
Isis-sama asked about Wayne approving of a friendship between his pure daughter and sinful Jessica, who enjoys kissing boys. But, to give Wayne credit (and I don’t like it any more than you do), he uses the nightly Pamela Prayer to ask Jesus to comfort Jessica. Which, admittedly, is kinda sweet.
Still, though, I can’t help but feel that Wayne sees the silver lining in all this: Jessica now serves as a perfect object lesson for Pamela. If you go out with a boy, you will regret it. (It also doesn’t hurt this lesson that Wayne puts two and two together, realizing that Jessica’s Jerry and Pamela’s Jerry are the same Jerry.)
Next in our round of admittedly nice things, there is a snafu at the Christian Film Library and Kiss Prevention Center, as a film fails to arrive at its destination on time. Wayne kinda scolds the pastor for not telling him sooner, but blows him off so he can attend his widowed mother’s birthday dinner. Frederick, however, actually cares about the business, and after Wayne leaves, he grabs another copy of the film and drives it to the church, which doesn’t seem like a huge thing until you realize this necessitates a four hour round trip.
Damn, but that is some good brown-nosing. Well played, Freddy. Well played.
Wayne finds out the next morning, and, although Frederick tries to politely decline, pays him for the extra hours.
Wayne: The pastor said four kids made a profession of faith after seeing the film.
I am so sure.
Wayne once again gives Freddy the Approving Nod. Yes, he will do just fine for Pamela, just fine.
Yet somehow, I can only think that this is what is in Wayne’s mind…
Graduation time! Jessica and Pamela enter together, and Jessica looks happy as a clam, so…I mean, honestly, she seems fine to me. Looks like sex didn’t tarnish her forever, after all. Go figure.
Pamela and Freddy catch each other’s eyes across the gym, and exchange nods and smiles. Pamela turns back with the oddest little smile on her face.
Is it just me, or does that look say, “Well, I could do worse…”
You are seriously not going to BELIEVE what happens next!
(And the next installment will be up much quicker, I promise!)
The next morning at school, Pamela observes that “everyone is looking at me.” This really doesn’t seem the case from the shots we’re given, but given Pamela’s status as the school’s Weird Girl, I’m willing to concede that there might be a bit of staring. Because…dun dun DUN…Jerry has told everyone that he kissed Pamela!
Jessica informs Pamela that she heard from a friend of a friend of Jerry that Jerry and Pamela “made out for awhile in the living room [of Pamela’s house].” I suppose this qualifies as a big, juicy rumor in a 1980s Christian high school, but I remain unimpressed, given the goings-on at my sinful, secular high school. 😉
(Jessica, by the way, is a total sweetie. She’s upset on Pamela’s behalf when she discovers that the rumor is untrue, but she starts the scene happy for Pamela. “So, what did you think of kissing—did you like it?!“)
Pamela tells the entire sordid, sinful tale to her father that night. Wayne reacts…pretty much how one would expect.
Wayne: So, Jerry told everyone he kissed you.
Pamela: And I didn’t, Dad—why is he saying that?
Wayne: Well, first of all, maybe the Lord’s trying to teach you a lesson. If you’d obeyed your father, none of this would have happened.
Pamela: I know.
Wayne: You also deceived me. You said you were going to the game with Jessica, which you did, but you met Jerry. Now Jerry’s telling everyone he went out with you, which you did. But what happened is another story.
Pamela: I don’t know why I did it. All the other girls were going on dates, and I wasn’t.
Therein lies the heart of the problem. Pamela is unhappy. She’s very unhappy and lonely. And she’s trying to take steps to make herself happy and not lonely. This is what happens when perfectly innocuous things, like kissing and going to a basketball game with a boy, are demonized and forbidden. And like I said in the previous installment, this whole thing could have been avoided—not just by Pamela not dating Jerry at all, but by Wayne opening his mind this much and chaperoning the young couple to and from the game.
But no, this is really all about the Lord teaching Pamela a lesson—the lesson that you should never, ever, even ONCE question your parents on anything. Never test boundaries, never find your own path in life, never think for yourself. Because One Wrong Basketball Game, and it’s all over for you.
You see why I hate Wayne? Pamela’s depressed—now, for multiple reasons—and Wayne’s only real response is…Toldja So.
Pamela begs Wayne’s forgiveness, and he gives it. Prick.
Wayne: Pamela, a kiss isn’t something you should just give away.
(Actually, this ties in with Lliira’s point about sex being an activity. Hell, give away as many kisses as you want, Pamela. Because, like love, kisses are not sugar in a bowl. There are always more kisses.)
Wayne: What does the minister say, just after he pronounces the couple husband and wife? You may NOW kiss the bride.
Oh, please. THIS is what Wayne bases his great dating philosophy on? A weird interpretation of the phrase “now kiss the bride”? Jesus, Wayne, the minister means, “now, at this moment, you may kiss the bride,” not “now, for the very first time in your life, you may kiss a woman.”
You see why I hate Wayne, right?
By the way, I do appreciate that dating and kissing and sex are sensitive topics, and television and movies don’t always Get It Right, despite best efforts. And this whole horrible scene reminded me of a good scene that does get it right, from one of my favorite shows ever, Quantum Leap.
It’s from the episode Another Mother, in which Sam leaps into the body of a hard-working single mom, whose teenage son is struggling, much like Pamela, with his virginal reputation at his high school. In one of the last scenes, Sam sits down with the boy, who thinks he is having a talk with his mom.
Sam: I was a virgin when I was sixteen.
Kevin: You’re a girl; you’re supposed to be.
Sam: It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. And there’s no special age when it has to happen. But there should be a special reason: when you love someone so much that making love to them is the most natural way of expressing it.
True confession: I actually get a little teary when I think about that episode. Gets it just right.
After bedtime prayers, Pamela brings up the hot issue (other than Deceiving Her Father, that is): what does she do now?
Wayne: You could do what Jesus did. Remember when he stood in front of Pilate? And they falsely accused him? He didn’t say anything. Jesus didn’t defend himself against the lies. And Pilate was amazed. You know why? *doesn’t wait for Pamela to answer* Because he saw the humble reaction of Christ, and it showed him who was really lying. You could do the same. Don’t say anything. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t get upset. Just be patient and let the Lord have control of the situation.
Okay, I am sure that most of the time, in such a case as this, a girl protesting with the truth would only confirm the boy’s story in the minds of most high school kids. But I have a hard time with the idea that whoever doesn’t defend themselves is telling the truth by default. In this exact situation, it’s probably the best plan—no doubt this stupid kissing rumor is already dying because, c’mon, it’s a rumor that two teenagers kissed. Even a Christian high school has to be able to do better than that in the rumor mill within a day or two.
Just not sure this is a Great Life Lesson About Being Like Jesus.
The next day, at school, Jerry’s Friend (And we have a name! It’s Andy!) asks Pamela out to the next game. Pamela almost tells the truth about not kissing Jerry, but stops herself just in time. (Boy, good thing too—Andy actually looked interested in what she had to say, and might have believed her, and we couldn’t very well have that, could we?) Taking an example from Jesus, Pamela declines going to another high school basketball game.
(The first time I saw this movie, I didn’t realize it was Christian Entertainment. Thus, I thought that Andy was actually going to be a good guy, and that the conclusion of the movie would be for Wayne to allow Pamela to date such a nice fellow. And I thought this almost exclusively because Andy looked so interested in the truth in this brief scene.)
When school lets out, Pamela spies Jerry talking to another girl! Gee, how…ominous? Insulting? What are we supposed to be feeling here?
Oh well! Cut to the next scene (“August 1986“), and Pamela’s grandfather (remember how he had a bad heart?) has died. This is an important plot point, for reasons which will become clear in a moment, but to me, this scene is important because Jessica is attending the funeral so she can support Pamela, and it is just more evidence that Jessica is an awesome friend.
Jessica and Pamela: BFFs
Of course, with his dad dead, Wayne is left to run the Christian Film Library all alone. So he does the only natural thing: he trains his daughter in how to run the family business.
HA! Just kidding! Actually, Wayne puts up an extremely professional-looking advertisement at Pamela’s school, so he can train some other kid in how to run the family business.
And it is immediately spotted by…a mysterious boy we have never seen before!
And okay, okay, I can admit it when I’m wrong—Wayne has an interview with the boy (Frederick) and tells him that Pamela has been working with him after school, helping with the “book work.” Frederick’s job would be to “help back here with the films.”
The job would be every day after school for three hours.
DAMN, Wayne. Work the boy to death, why don’t you? I’m being serious here—this could lead to some serious spare change for Frederick, but what if he wants to play a sport or join a club or hang with his friends. I mean DAMN. I had an after-school job in high school, too, and you better believe it was no “every day for three hours” bullshit.
Here is Frederick’s interview speech:
Frederick: We just moved here this summer from Seattle.
Phew! Boy, it’s sure a good thing that Freddy escaped that den of iniquity while he’s still young!
Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt the kid (and I will continue to call him Freddy because it pleases me to do so.
Freddy: Let’s see…I’m a senior, and I became a Christian when I was nine years old. I’ve been wanting to work in a ministry, and when I saw your sign at school, it looked like a good opportunity. I don’t know much about film libraries but I’m willing to learn. I promise to work real hard and try to do the best job I can.
Wayne hires him on the spot.
Two additional notes here. One, Wayne is VERY PLEASED at Freddy’s “I became a Christian when I was nine years old” line. We immediately cut to Wayne, nodding with this smug and satisfied look on his face.
I hate Wayne.
Two, there are multiple posters for Christian films plastered on the walls, including one for this movie, which looks FRICKING AMAZING AND I NEED TO SEE IT.
Hmmm…a new boy in Pamela’s (very small) world. Could things be looking up for her?
We shall see!
It’s Pamela’s Sweet Sixteen party, yo, and she is having a ROCKING party, consisting of her dad and her grandparents.
Not that I’m a one to talk. Still, though, I had friends over for a sleepover for my sixteenth birthday, nerd though I was (and am).
Still still, though, did Sarah have no family? Why are these the only three people in Pamela’s whole life?
*They sing “Happy Birthday”*
Wayne: Say a prayer and blow out the candles.
*Pamela closes her eyes and blows out the candles*
Grandma: Whadja pray for, honey?
Grandpa: Now she’s not supposed to tell you that! That’s a secret between her and the Lord!
Wayne: Right, Ma, sorry. *beat* Whadja pray for, Pamela?
Pamela: Daa-aad! I’m not supposed to tell you, but I will: I didn’t ask for anything. I just told God how much I love my grandparents and my father.
Grandpa: Well, isn’t that nice.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE???
Seriously, Grandpa is the only normal human among them. And isn’t it incredibly sad that Pamela is allowed no privacy whatsoever? That her every thought, her every prayer, needs to be shared with her whole family.
Speaking of, did I miss something (again) by growing up in a secular home? Are birthday wishes sinful or something? They have to be birthday prayers or Baby Jesus cries?
And look at how well Wayne has Pamela controlled. Just look at that. One word from him, and she spills her innermost thoughts. Nothing is her own, even the thoughts in her head.
That night, we see how the whole “I promised to pray with Pamela every night” thing plays out: Wayne sits on Pamela’s bed, as she sits under the covers, and Wayne says the whole prayer. Pamela says not a word until the end, when she adds her own “Amen,” followed by, “Thanks, Dad.”
Wayne isn’t praying with her, he’s praying for her. As in, he is praying in her place.
You see why I hate this guy?
The next day, the playa of Pamela’s Christian school, one Jerry Clark, is scoping out all the young hotties with his friend…um…Jerry’s Friend. Jerry’s Friend informs Jerry that our Pamela has never been kissed, and Jerry takes this as a challenge, asking Pamela to attend the school basketball game with him. Pamela, of course, has to ask her dad, though she knows damn well what he’ll say.
Wayne: You know how I feel about dating.
Yeah. No dating. At all. Under any circumstances.
Despite Pamela’s plea that he is “a good Christian guy,” Wayne doesn’t budge, and Pamela has to turn Jerry down, much to the consternation of her
best only friend, Jessica. Pamela brings home a new argument of Jessica’s every night for her father, but Wayne has an answer for them:
Pamela: Jessica’s father lets her go out with guys as long as they’re Christians.
Wayne: I wonder what Jessica’s husband would say if he knew that?
Pamela: What do you mean?
I know, right???
But pay attention, you guys—Wayne’s whole philosophy of relations between the sexes is right here:
Wayne: Pamela, whenever we come to a point in our lives where we’re not sure what to do, we should always look ahead and view things from that perspective. For example, in your case about dating, let’s look ahead to your wedding day. You’ll be getting married to the man you love with all your heart. This is the man you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Now, let’s go ahead a little further, to your wedding night. When you lie down on your wedding bed, what kind of a man do you want your husband to be? Do you want a man who’s saved all his love just for you, one who never even kissed another woman, so he could share that just with you, or do you want a man who’s been with other women before? One who kissed other women, and didn’t wait for you? Which one would you prefer?
Pamela: I’d prefer the one who waited.
Wayne: And so would your husband.
Your husband would also prefer the man who waited. Wait, no!
Honestly, there is a ton wrong with Wayne, but I think the saddest thing about his little philosophy is how he thinks love is a bowl of sugar that can be used up. That love can be saved like money, then all poured into one big investment: Marriage.
Now, on to my big problem with this whole premise. I don’t think experience is everything. I think if two people have good chemistry, they can have a great time together, even if neither one of them has had much “practice,” whether we’re talking about kissing or anything beyond that.
But…I kinda think you have to kiss someone to know whether you are sexually compatible. You can get along with someone just fine, have things in common and things to talk about, but you just don’t know if there is any there there until you lock lips. And basic chemistry is not something that can be learned—you either have it with the other person, or you don’t. And getting to your wedding day, to the actual ceremony, and then finding out that you don’t like his touch or his taste…well, I don’t care at that point if he’s saved all his love in a box for me or not.
And, hell, my girl Jessica doesn’t even think that such a guy exists, and she goes to the same Christian school as Pamela.
Jessica: I’ve kissed guys before and I don’t feel bad. Kissing’s fun! You’re missing out.
But despite her father’s talk, Pamela is still sad. She had to turn down Jerry, and now she has to sit in class all day with him, with his smoldering good looks and sparkling personality…
Or not. I mean, Jerry’s not that bad, though he’s certainly no prize. The movie makes him out to be a manipulative asshole (“I get it…I’m just not good enough for you“), but his whiny-ass delivery erases any hint of threat.
Pamela mourns her loss of date, while rocking the Cosby sweater (plus the hairdo that I wore almost constantly from 6th through 9th grades).
In a few small moments that, shockingly for this film, actually stir some emotion, Pamela sadly gazes at two different happy couples at school, then is given the patented Mean Boy treatment by a random group of guys (that does not include Jerry, btw):
One guy: *faux friendly tone* Hi, Pam!
Pamela: *smiles back*
One guy: *mutters something to his friends*
All the guys: *burst out laughing*
Frustrated, Pamela snaps at her father when she gets home, and it evolves into what I would characterize as a mild argument, but which the movie clearly portrays as the most at odds Pamela and Wayne have ever been. (Some of it is in the trailer—this is the part where Pamela cries, “You’re making my life miserable, Dad…don’t you see…you’re making it miserable!“)
The trailer leaves out her excellent point, though:
Pamela: You can’t show me one verse in the Bible where it says it’s wrong to date.
You go girl—fight fire with fire.
Not that it helps. In her best teenage move yet, Pamela retreats to her room, and doesn’t let Wayne in to say prayers with her!
Pamela: I’ve already said my prayers, good night.
Now, it is a pretty good burn, indeed, but Pamela, sadly, has nothing on Wayne, who counterattacks with a Level Six Guilt Trip, as follows:
Wayne: *praying out loud from the other side of Pamela’s closed bedroom door* Dear Lord, we love you. Thank you for this day. Please watch over Pamela. Help me to be the father you want me to be. In Jesus’ name, amen. *beat* Good night, Pamela.
Believe me when I tell you that Wayne was not capable of keeping the smug satisfaction out of his voice for the “Good night, Pamela” part. Prick.
But Pamela ain’t through yet, no sir! As the Ominous Music plays, Pamela approaches Jerry at school the next day…
Then she calls her father at work and LIES to him (filthy sinner that she is), saying she is going to the game, but with Jessica. Wayne obviously has his doubts, but given that Pamela has already questioned the level of trust he has in her, he can’t very well ask her outright if she’s lying to him.
Turns out Pamela isn’t half-bad at this whole Being a Teenager business.
You know, this whole problem could be solved by just having Wayne drop Pamela off at the game, then pick her up when it’s over, to take her home. I mean, look at this. I don’t know what kind of magician-contortionist-wizard Wayne thinks Jerry is, but the odds of anything physical happening in this particular setting are somewhere south of 1%.
But no, Jerry walks Pamela home after the game. The Ominous Music continues, even though Jerry and Pamela aren’t so much as holding hands. They chit-chat outside in the snow for a few minutes, then Jerry leeeeeans in for his good-night kiss…
And Pamela turns away and rushes home!
Oh, and did I mention that Wayne has been sitting in his easy chair, praying for Pamela, for the last fifteen minutes?
So it wasn’t really Pamela who stopped the kiss from happening—it was God, at Wayne’s behest, watching out for the poor girl.
That was a close one, too! If Wayne hadn’t been praying, who knows what might have happened! There could have even been a hug involved!
Jerry, meanwhile, reacts to this turn of events quite mildly (at least for now): first with a “Bwa?” look when he is denied his kiss, then with a “Huh. Weird chick,” chuckle as he heads on home.
Pamela enters the house, with a look on her face like she barely escaped with her life. But all she says to Wayne is, “Sorry I’m late.” And after all that praying, we don’t even get to see Wayne’s reaction.
WILL there be further repercussions to Pamela’s almost-kiss?
WILL Wayne continue to be a guilt-tripping prick? (Yes.)
Stay tuned! Same purity time, same purity channel!
Well, here we go, you guys. Pamela’s Prayer.
Pamela’s FREAKING Prayer.
The One That Started It All for me.
Once upon a time, a younger and more innocent Ruby was at college. Unable to sleep, I flipped through late-nite TV, finally finding what looked like an old After-School Special. It was only ten minutes in or so, and featured a teenage girl whose strict father didn’t allow her to date. At all.
Naïve as I was, I assumed that surely, this Pamela would find a nice boy to date, one who would never want to take advantage of her, and Dad would realize that he was being too strict, probably because he just missed Pamela’s mom so very much, and he and Pamela would hug it out.
Oh, how wrong I was. So young, so innocent, not yet wise in the ways of Christian films.
Because Pamela’s father is right. The only way for Pamela to be happy is to avoid all physical contact with the opposite sex until the day of her wedding, at which point she is finally allowed her Very First Kiss.
(You just have to picture the look of slack-jawed amazement on my face. Oh, to be so young and trusting again…)
Seriously, though, you guys, Pamela’s Prayer is a classic of the genre. The most classic movie we’ve watched so far here is probably Second Glance, but Pamela’s Prayer…well, people take actual Life Lessons from this flick. This story makes it icky to kiss someone unless you are bound in matrimony to each other.
Yeah, it’s just gross.
So let’s go!
This is the biggest lie of the movie. This is NOT Pamela’s story. This is the story of her father, Wayne, and his obsession with keeping his daughter’s lips (let alone her ladyparts) pure and untouched for the sake of his future son-in-law.
But let us travel back, back all the way in time to “May 1968,” when young marrieds Wayne and Sarah drive up to some random rock formations, where Sarah, after scrambling over some rocks in a suitably modest long dress, reveals to Wayne that their joyless, ritualized intercourse has finally resulted in the only God-ordained result: a fertilized egg.
Sarah: I have something to tell you.
Wayne: What, Sarah?
Sarah: We’re going to have a baby.
Sure enough, in “January 1969,” Wayne takes Sarah to the hospital, with the part of Pamela being played by a basketball held under Sarah’s coat. However, after the title sequence, the Music of Sadness plays as Wayne makes a little visit to the cemetery…
Yep, following a long line of Disney moms, Sarah didn’t even make it past the opening credits.
Farewell, Sarah! We’ll never forget your thirteen words of dialogue!
Fortunately for Wayne (and especially for Pamela, but we’ll get to that), his parents are completely awesome, and all but move in with him to help with Pamela.
At least for a few days, until Wayne boots their collective ass out.
Wayne’s mom offers for them to spend the night “again.”
Wayne: Ma, I’ll see you in the morning. Dad, I’ll be coming back to work tomorrow.
So Wayne’s mom is going to go home, grab sleep, then come back first thing in the morning. I just love how Wayne takes that totally for granted. (Not that Wayne’s mom shouldn’t do that, if she wants to. Just that I think Wayne could be a bit more grateful about the whole thing.)
And yes, Wayne works with his dad. They run a Christian film library.
Wayne checks on the baby and prays over her, then reads his Bible for a bit before turning out the light. (His nightstand, of course, has a picture of Sarah on it–who could ever forget that unforgettable character!) Two hours later (in a touch of realism) he’s up for a feeding. The next morning, his mom is there before Wayne even wakes up. (THANK THE WOMAN, YOU INGRATE!)
The tinkly-music montage that follows is quite sweet, showing Wayne bonding with the baby by reading the Bible to her and taking her to unsafe rock formations.
We fast-forward in time to “July 1975,” and it is time for the biggest gorram event of the year, by gab: the convention. The Convention. Presumably one of Christian film library owners. Wayne’s dad can’t go, because the doctor told him he shouldn’t travel because of his heart. So Wayne is supposed to go instead. But, there’s a problem…
Wayne: When Pamela was born, I made a commitment to the Lord that I would pray with her every night. So far, I’ve been able to keep that commitment. If I go to the convention, I don’t see how I can.
At this point, Wayne is not impressing me with his mental aptitude. His dad, however, is no fool, and comes up with a brilliant idea.
A TELEPHONE!!! BRILLIANT!!!
Seriously, this thought never even crossed Wayne’s mind for a second? What an asshole!
(This is perhaps the right time to let you all know that I hate Wayne. Like, a really, really lot. I might even hate him more than Paul Stepola. Sure, Paul murdered people, but Wayne is just so self-righteously smug and ungrateful and FRAKKING STUPID.)
Sure enough, Wayne actually uses that wild new invention, and telephones his daughter from his hotel room to pray with her. And this is all starting to read less like Wayne wanting to keep his commitment to the Lord, and more like Wayne not wanting to release his iron-fisted control over every tiny facet of Pamela’s life, even for a second. Honestly, did nobody ever tell this man that it’s healthy for a child to bond with trusted adults besides the parents?
Probably not. The last scene of Pamela’s early childhood shows her on Wayne’s lap, as he reads the Bible to her. I wonder if he’s ever read any book besides the Bible to her? Wayne is made happy by Pamela’s spontaneous statement that “I have Jesus on my heart.” Aww.
Next time: Pamela turns Sweet Sixteen!