Memories are grand when all the elements are perfectly aligned for the sake of transporting you back in time. I vividly remember the pure joy that descended every time I sped over to the sizable case containing the rows of VHS tapes.
I purposely surveyed the collection as if their presence was a new treat that needed unwrapping.
This ritual was my way of celebrating the fact that my parents were not home. This is a typical swagger for kids who grew up under watchful eyes and tense training followed by mental manipulation (for better or worse).
Any opportunity that relieved me of those pressures was the signal for escape and my preferred method was to hijack the vault of imagination and shop for the latest hero or villain.
My Nigerian parents weren’t necessarily traditional in their approach to life, but they were typical in certain pursuits and that included a well-stocked film library. I marveled at the variety of titles at my disposal and was stunned to discover that I wasn’t the only Nigerian kid that shared the goldmine of greatest hits.
My schoolmates also thought Michael Corleone was dangerously hot and they were just as immature as I was when it came to fully grasping the dark undertones of An Officer and a Gentleman.
What we all agreed on was how utterly fantastic a movie The Exorcist was and we couldn’t get enough of James Bond.
My initiation into the enduring franchise began with The Spy Who Loved Me.
It was a quick and rapturous inhalation of sights and sounds. The theme music by Carly Simon was the first time I ever heard her voice and it was impressive, but what struck me even more was how the scene opener unleashed the manifestation of the opening credits in such a signature way.
As a preteen, I was already categorizing the imagery of the scantily clad gals limbering through the screen as the man holding the pistol aims for the kill. This was a brilliantly devised formula that locked in your attention without any forceful desire to fast forward — or the possible distraction from the screams of your comrades at the nearby playground.
My world for that moment was filled with the rush of 007 and the mission at stake — that seemed to catapult him to far off places where he is able to survive life-threatening situations without wrinkling his suit or messing up his full head of hair.
There were others that followed, and I was later shocked to discover that my Bond wasn’t the first man appointed to guard the interest of Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
That being said, Roger Moore was my one and only and The Spy Who loved Me will always be the best of the lot for nostalgic reasons. First off — Jaws was sexy as fuck! I also admired leading lady Barbara Bach who played gorgeous KGB agent — Triple X with enough intelligence and wit to give 007 a legit reason to rethink his strategy at every turn.
She was definitely not one of those girls in the opening credits; she saved her treats for last.
Roger Moore was apparently the oldest actor to have played Bond, based on the fact that he was about 45-years-old when he cast in Live and Let Die (1973) and it’s not surprising to learn that along with predecessor Sean Connery, he played James Bond in the most movies.
Before I was caught in the awe of the Bond enterprise, I was already privy to Roger Moore’s suave advertisement as the handsome English bloke with the cunning grin that matched his effortless fluidity.
The awesome thing about growing up in Nigeria was the access to British culture, which meant that we got to view the classic TV shows of the seventies and eighties.
Moore was already a champ in that arena due to gems like The Saint where he played Simon Templar — another charming gentleman on a mission, only this time he harbored a “Robin Hood” complex. There was also the robustly adventurous offering — The Persuaders! where Moore shared the screen with Tony Curtis as both men harbored the responsibility of being globetrotting millionaires with all the time in the world to spare.
Roger Moore passed away recently after a bout with cancer, and for some reason the announcement refuses to hit me as final. As much as I admired his contribution to the landscape of television and cinema, I never thought much about him or idolized his existence. Maybe, that’s because he was such a woven patch of my own existence.
Whether he is still residing on a well-placed crest in Switzerland or ceremoniously lowered six feet under— Roger Moore will never be dead to me.
I still see him running through the narrowed sidewalks of Cairo, the vision of him being whisked away by the baddest dudes in Harlem will never fade, and the fact that he had the pleasure of sparring with Grace Jones in A View To A Kill will always bring me back to life.
For now and always — there will be the girl sitting with her legs crossed as the sound of the air rustling the leaves of the banana trees match her movements as she sways to the verses that mean so more much now than ever before:
Nobody does it better, Why’d you have to be so good?