UR Opinion

A Love Letter to Bandito Video

Tonia Harris

By Tonia Harris

I grew up in Barrie and now live in Edmonton, AB. Every time I return to Barrie I go to Bandito Video; my family has been renting there since the store opened. I wrote this as an ode to Bandito and the video stores that are lost to the digital era.

A Love Letter to Bandito Video by Tonia Harris (Ness)
April 2, 2015
Dedicated to RF

All those long flights east to Toronto and sometimes the plane would swing north, and I could look down on the blinking lights of my small hometown and find that beacon of familiarity, the famous yellow-and-black with bright bulbs flashing, the smiling Bandito in sombrero and poncho, that jewel of old Hollywood in central Ontario, warm salty popcorn wafting through the air, that place where my friendships bloomed and I came back from the large world outside, weary, beaten, tired, dragging myself to the video store to feel whole and home.

I moved away but I always came home to you. Even when the VHS broke for the final time, even when the Blockbusters and the Rogers and the corner stores shut their doors and I felt my heart beat all the quicker for you to keep on, keep up, keep inviting us in with your smile and jaunty sombrero.

You told us of new arrivals, coming soons, let us line up at six pm to get the latest or get put on the list, not for a table for two but the newly released and just returned through the slot where the magic clunked in with a gentle thud.

I knew Barrie back then like the faces in photo albums and the only place I could lose myself was aisle after aisle, genre upon genre, finding the gem between lost golden era tapes. You are reunion and embrace, surprise and discover, the face of the town I loved and that loved me and that I left but will always carry, lessons of family impermanence and friendship across time zones, how to be kind and rewind and I promise, from the bottom of my fissured heart, to be kind frequently, to rewind my past with grace, to shout this refrain to the youth of the world so they know what it was to rent, watch, adjust tracking, pause, rewind, and return for the joy of doing it all over again.

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