Throughout my childhood my family would take trips every summer (or more often) to visit my grandparents who were alive in the 80s. On one such trip, we were visiting my grandmother and ended up going to see a movie in the new movie theater that had recently opened on the outskirts of the town where she lived. The movie was E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.
Do you remember the first time you saw E.T.? E.T. phone home? Reese's Pieces? The movie that portrays a child who was somehow intoxicated by an alien drinking a beer? (Weird.)
Well, I do. I don't remember most of the movie, but I do remember being a little freaked out by E.T. And then during the part when everyone's wearing those space suits and they're all in that clean environment and not looking very human-like? That just totally did it for me. I decided that I couldn't handle all of the scariness of the movie. So I cried. I was four years old, after all. I remember having to sit on my mom's lap, and being a little embarrassed by it because my younger sister, Cash, didn't appear to be bothered by it at all. But me? I was weeping like a child. I was a child. My family adopted this saying "E.T. died, and Cardine cried," only replace "Cardine" with my more common name. I didn't mention this often when it was brought up, but I wasn't crying because E.T. was dying. I was crying because it was so freaky!
Now years later, I can look back on this experience and see what I learned:
1. Puppets are scary, even the animatronics ones. E.T. was no exception. I have always thought they were scary. I used to have these nightmares that the puppets from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood were coming to kill me. The popularity of the Chucky movies in the 80s did not help this attitude of mine at all, and I could write a whole post about how I think subjecting children to the Chucky movies is child abuse, but I shall not diverge any longer on that topic. Puppets are scary! And if you're out there and you think you have a talent as a puppeteer, put that puppet away! You're terrible at it, and it's totally freaky! Stop scaring the children!
2. Reese's Pieces are really good. If people make cookies and put Reese's Pieces in them, I can eat the whole batch. Seriously tasty, those Reese's Pieces.
3. I now live less than a mile away from the very theater where I cried during the viewing of E.T. Little did my four-year-old self know, I would end up in the future living and working within walking distance from the location of my earliest memories of puppet-induced trauma. I guess you never know where you'll end up and what paths will be crossed and re-crossed in the future!