In 1987, when I was nearly 12 years old, Patrick Swayze quickly replaced John Travolta as my favorite actor. Johnny Castle supplanted Danny Zuko as the man of my dreams, swapping out goofiness and narcissism for a quiet brooding, a graceful physicality, and a world-weary philosophy.
A couple years later, Patrick Swayze not only made my father cry during the movie Ghost, but made my father feel secure enough to admit that he had cried during the movie Ghost. We didn't see it, but he told us it happened, to our shock.
Those two movies, along with The Outsiders (which featured Patrick Swayze in a supporting, and largely forgotten, role), comprise three of my favorite movies of all time. I've tolerated some of his other movies just to catch glimpses of him - Black Dog, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, even Roadhouse which I don't love - but everything has pretty much always come back to Johnny Castle for me.
Dirty Dancing vs. its Bollywood remake
Labor Day weekend, I went to Monkey Town to see the Bollywood remake of Dirty Dancing, called Holiday, screened simultaneously with the original. Even though the original was shown with a muted soundtrack, my eyes kept floating from the remake to Patrick Swayze's face, to his grace, to his lithe body and boyish face, curling finger and pointing toes. I've always known that Patrick Swayze isn't Johnny Castle, and that Patrick Swayze and I would never be together, but I've always held out some hope that one day, I would find my own Johnny Castle.
With Patrick Swayze gone, I now hold out very little hope for anything. One by one, my dreams are not only deferred, but extinguished completely.
If Johnny Castle is out there somewhere, it is most certain that he will never find me, never pull me from the corner, never lift me in the lake or cry to me.
I knew that this day was coming. Life is loss. But I don't know what to do, now that it has arrived.
CNN: Patrick Swayze Dies of Cancer at 57