The Story (continued)
On Thanksgiving evening, Rocky walks with Paulie to his home for dinner. Paulie mentions how his hands/joints are swollen from his miserable work. At the meatpacking plant, he has to carry carcasses in and out of the freezer: "Plays hell on the joints." Paulie claims that he doesn't need a doctor but instead, "a different job." Again, he asks Rocky to recommend him to Gazzo: "Tell him I'm a good man and nothin' bothers me. I'd make a great collector. Bustin' bones don't bother me." In front of the corner shop, Rocky spots Marie again hanging out, but doesn't stop to speak to her.
Although Rocky is assured that Adrian expects him ("she's very excited"), it's obvious that she wasn't expecting or ready for Paulie to bring home company for dinner. She is confused and reluctant to see Rocky ("Why didn't you tell me you were bringing him here?" she asks Paulie), argues with her crude brother over going out with Rocky, and runs to her room to hide. [Embarrassed to see them argue, Rocky watches a TV broadcast about the upcoming heavyweight bout in which "Apollo Creed says he'll be shopping for another victim to fill Green's vacancy for the Bicentennial championship fight".]
Paulie abusively yells at his withdrawn sister to quit moping, and to get out and live a little:
I want ya out of here instamatically. I'm sick of seein' ya hang around like a freakin' spider. Go out and live, enjoy life.
After hearing Adrian's excuse that she has a "turkey in the oven" and can't go out, Paulie opens the oven, spears the cooked bird with a fork (and tears a leg off for himself), and tosses it out the back door, brashly yelling: "I want ya outta here. Get outta the house. Get out and enjoy your friggin' life." Mortified, Adrian retreats to her bedroom and locks the door from her bullying, insensitive brother. Rocky is ready to forget the date by this time, but Paulie encourages him to talk to Adrian. At her door, he tries to calm her down and put her in a good mood. He starts with his familiar greeting to coax her out:
Yo, Adrienne, it's me, Rocky...I don't know what to say, 'cause I ain't never talked to no door before, ya know...Yo, Adrienne, you know, it's Rocky again, you know. Listen, uh, I know you ain't too happy at this moment, ya know. But could ya do me a favor, ya know, I ain't got nobody to spend Thanksgiving with, ya know? So, uh, how about maybe you and I, I mean, we'll go out together and get somethin' to eat, I don't know, maybe laugh a little bit, who knows, ya know?
She opens the bedroom door, bundled up in a frumpy coat and wool cap - ready to go out. Paulie's recommendation is to take Adrian ice-skating, although Adrian sadly regrets not having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner:
Rocky: Listen, I don't want no turkey anyway, ya know.
Adrian: But it was Thanksgiving.
Rocky: It was what?
Adrian: It was Thanksgiving.
Rocky: Yeah, to you, but to me, it's Thursday, right?
Although Rocky attempts to act chivalrously with Adrian, he awkwardly takes the lead down the porch steps and out the front gate. For their first date, they walk to a closed ice skating rink - deserted after 6 pm on the holiday except for an attendant/cleaning man. Dense-witted Rocky speculates: "I think maybe we're early or somethin' like that, ya know?" He inquires: "Are you closed to the General Public or are you just closed to everybody?" and then bribes the attendant by appealing to his emotions and paying him an exorbitant $10, to provide skates for Adrian and ten minutes of skate time: "This girl here ain't feelin' well, ya know, the doctor says she should go out and exercise once in awhile, and ice skatin' is probably the best thing."
While Adrian struggles to skate next to him, Rocky half-runs and slips alongside her on the ice with his street shoes. The attendant yells a countdown of minutes to them as they circle the rink a few times. Rocky talks non-stop to Adrian about how he started fighting at age fifteen - to prove that he wasn't a bum and "that I had the stuff to make a good pro." He explains that he still fights as a "hobby," but that he never had a chance at the big time because he's a "southpaw" who often messes up the timing of other fighters - however, "things probably worked out for the best." He shows her a photograph of the Baby Crenshaw fight in his past ("I broke both my hands on his face - I lost that fight"). He also brags about his strength: "I can really swat, ya know what I mean, I can really hit hard."
When Rocky explains to Adrian why he started fighting, she loses some of her shyness and barriers between them begin to break down. She laughs for the first time. Both of them realize how their misfit, opposite characters awkwardly fill each other's deficiencies:
Rocky: My ol' man, he was never too smart. He says to me, 'You weren't born with much of a brain, ya know, so uh, ya better start using your body, right?' So I become a fighter. Ya know what I mean. (Adrian chuckles softly) Why are ya laughing?
Adrian: My mother, she said the opposite thing.
Rocky: What did she say? What did she say the opposite?
Adrian: She said, 'You weren't born with much of a body, so ya better develop your brain.'
All their lives, both of them have been labeled as failures and lonely losers, but they have struggled to make the best of their limited talents as lower-class citizens in an urban and seedy Philadelphia. And for the first time, they see themselves as kindred souls. And then as time begins to run out on the ice, Adrian quizzes him about why he really wants to fight. He responds in jest: "Cause I can't sing or dance." As they walk to Rocky's apartment, they discuss Adrian's shy nature:
Rocky: I say you're very shy by nature, ya know?
Adrian: I suppose.
Rocky: ...Ya know, some people think that bein' shy is a disease, ya know, but it don't bother me none, ya know.
Adrian: It don't bother me either.
Rocky: Then why did I bother bringin' it up, huh? 'Cause I'm dumb, that's why. I think we make a real sharp couple of coconuts. I'm dumb an' you're shy, whaddya think, huh?
She again asks why anybody would want to be a fighter. He admits that he knows his qualifications to be a boxer - he's regarded as a bum: "Ya gotta be a moron to wanna be a fighter, ya know. I mean, it's a racket where you're almost guaranteed to end up a bum." Adrian counters his negative self-image:
Adrian: I don't think you're a bum.
Rocky: But I'm at least half a bum, ya know.
He also explains the worst thing about fighting: "The worst thing about fighting is the morning after." He tells her in detail how painful and rough fighting is, although he has never broken his nose:
Rocky: The mornin' after a fight, ya' nothin' but like a large wound, ya know what I mean? Sometimes I got pains all over. I feel like callin' a taxi to take me from my bed into the bathroom...Ya' hair hurts, ya' eyes hurt, your face is all busted up, your hands are swollen...Look at this face, sixty-four fights. Look at that nose. See that nose? That nose ain't never been broken in sixty-four fights. I had guys bustin' on it. I had guys chewin' on it, twistin' it, punchin' it...Never broke. I'm very proud of that - that's rare.
Adrian: Why do you do it if it hurts?
Rocky: Why ya think?
Adrian: 'Cause - (pause) - you can't sing or dance.
Rocky: Yeah, somethin' like that.
He repeatedly invites her into his cramped apartment when they arrive at the front door, but each time she is uneasy and declines his offer. After a lot of cajoling, a promise to see his "exotic" animals, and an assertion that he can be trusted ("Is that a face you can trust or what?...They oughta stick this face on a stamp, whaddya think?"), she tentatively climbs the stairs. Inside the bleak and dingy apartment, he offers her soda, doughnuts and cupcakes from his icebox. He removes his tattered sweater, revealing a buffed, virile chest and massive biceps under a white T-shirt. She does ask him about photographs next to his mirror of his parents and one of him when he was eight years old (He tells her: "That's the Italian Stallion when he was a baby").
Rocky introduces her to his pet turtles, forgetting that Adrian sold them to him. When she resists getting comfortable, he bellows out the window to announce her presence there to Paulie ("Yo - Paulie!"). She declines to sit down on his cluttered couch or even remove her coat, because she's scared to be in a man's apartment by herself for the first time. After trying to charm her with small talk and low-key jokes, he suddenly asks why she is so stiff and unsmiling:
Rocky: Whatsa matter? You don't like the room, do ya?
Adrian: It's fine.
Rocky: (apologetically) Well, it's only temporary, ya know.
Adrian: It's not that.
Rocky: What's the problem? Ya don't like me? Don't like the turtles? What's the problem?
Adrian: I don't think I belong here.
Rocky: It's OK.
Adrian: I don't belong here.
Rocky: Well, ya know, it's OK, 'cause you're my guest.
Adrian: I don't know you well enough. I've never been in a man's apartment alone.
Rocky: (shrugging) Well, I- they're all the same, ya know.
Adrian: I'm not sure I know you well enough. I don't feel comfortable.
Rocky: Yo, Adrienne. Ya know, I ain't so comfortable either.
Adrian: I should go.
Their misfit romance begins to blossom after a first kiss in one of the tenderest, most authentic and affecting scenes ever filmed. At the door, he begs for her not to go and intercepts her exit. And then he asks for her to remove her outdated glasses, noting that she has really "nice eyes." As a second favor, he asks her to take off her wool cap, and then compliments her on how pretty she is: "I always knew you was pretty." Self-deprecating, Adrian replies: "Don't tease me," but Rocky is respectfully sincere about her budding beauty: "I'm not teasin' ya. I ain't teasin' ya." He leans forward, asking to kiss her:
I wanna kiss ya. You don't have to kiss me back if ya don't want. I wanna kiss you.
After one soft kiss, she responds and lightly returns the kiss. After the long-delayed moment, the pay-off is magical and natural. They passionately give themselves to each other with more kisses and an embrace as they collapse in each other's arms to the floor next to the front door.
Friday, November 28, 1975
The next day at the gym, Rocky is surprised that Mickey has asked to see him. He is told that someone from Miles Jergens' offices came by looking for "sparrin' partners for Apollo Creed." An argument ensues when Mickey calls Rocky a "dumb Dago" - he also thinks Rocky's has wasted his boxing talent:
Mickey: Because you had the talent to become a good fighter, and instead of that you became a leg-breaker for some cheap, second-rate loan shark.
Rocky: It's a livin'.
Mickey: It's a waste of life.
In Jergens' office, Rocky admits that he has no representation ("Just me"). He is enthusiastic and "available" as a sparrin' partner ("I wouldn't take no cheap shots neither"), but is taken aback when asked if he's "interested in fighting Apollo Creed for the World Heavyweight Championship." Stunned, he refuses the offer because he doesn't consider himself in the same league: "I fight in clubs, ya know, I'm really a ham-and-egger. This guy, he's the best, and uh, it wouldn't be such a good fight." When Rocky agrees that "America is the land of opportunity," Jergens assures him that Creed is proving that belief to the world by giving "an unknown a shot at the title. And that unknown is you. He picked you, Rocky. It's a chance of a lifetime. You can't pass it by."
In Paulie's apartment, Rocky and Adrian (without her glasses and looking very attractive) watch television in the living room - a broadcast of Creed being interviewed in a press conference. The famed fighter is asked about the impending match with a loser on the US' "most celebrated day" [again - this implies July 4th, not January 1st]:
Reporter: Why did you agree to fight a man who has virtually no chance of winning?
Creed: Look, if history proves one thing, American history proves that everybody's got a chance to win. Didn't you guys ever hear of Valley Forge or Bunker Hill? (laughter) (after another question)...Is it a coincidence that he's fightin' a black man on the most celebrated day in the country's history?
Rocky is the butt of Creed's snide joke: "If he can't fight, I bet he can cook." The Italian unknown, dubbed "The Italian Stallion," assures the reporters that he'll do the best he can. In response to a question about the purse of $150,000, Rocky has no comment, but he blurts out a greeting to his girlfriend: "Yo! Adrian." The commentator ends the interview by summarizing that the Bicentennial fight will occur on January 1st ("the first fight on our 200th birthday and already people are saying it's the biggest farce in fight history"). Paulie is annoyed that Rocky was made out to be a "fool" with the "cheap shots," but Rocky deflects the criticism: "It don't bother me none." Rocky rejects Paulie's overbearing offer to help him train and exercise, stand by with a towel, run errands, and keep him "livin' the clean life," because nothing has really changed ("Who cared about me yesteday? Huh? Nobody, so I just think I'm gonna train myself"). Adrian supports Rocky's unlikely bid to win:
Adrian: Einstein flunked out of school - twice.
Paulie: Is that so?
Adrian: Yeah. Beethoven was deaf, Helen Keller was blind. I think Rocky's got a good chance.
Outside, Rocky kisses Adrian goodnight, and then confesses how he was hurt by the reporters' sarcasm: "You know how I said that stuff on TV didn't bother me none?...It did." Later that night, Gazzo meets with Rocky and donates $500 to his cause for training expenses:
Ya know, you ain't never had any luck. But I think this time Lady Luck may be in your corner. Whaddya think?