In June of 1982 I was almost six and two family friendly movies came out a week apart: E.T. the Extraterrestrial and Annie. My siblings had been talking about E.T. all week and having seen some of the previews I was really excited to see a movie about this little alien. My whole family was excited to go.
We stood in line underneath bright flashing lights at the ticket booth and I held my mom’s hand. I wiggled and fidgeted and scuffed my feet along in the line. Finally at the head of the line my mom casually asked the person behind the window if E.T. was appropriate for me.
The lady shrugged and said, “Well, there are some really intense scenes that could be scary for a little girl.”
My mom hesitated for a fraction of a second and then purchased two tickets to Annie and four to E.T.
“I’ll bring Heather to see Annie instead,” she told the rest of the family. “You have fun watching E.T.”
I looked at my mom with a frown. “I want to see E.T.”
“I think it might be too scary for you, sweetie.” She said as we went into the theater.
“But...” I tugged at her hand wanting to follow my brothers and sister.
“You’ll like Annie,” Mom said. “It’s about a little girl.”
I was distressed. I didn’t want to see Annie. Stupid Annie! Who does she think she is being a little girl and not an alien?! Mom brought me into the theater and we found seats. A large red curtain covered the screen. People sat all around us whispering to each other before the movie started. The lights dimmed and then went black and the whispers trailed off. The curtain swept aside and the white screen flashed into view. I wiggled and fidgeted some more until my mom told me to stop. A green flash and previews blazed across the screen.
When the movie finally started I wanted to hate it. I wanted to be disgusted with this little orphan. But instead, I was enthralled. A spunky little girl rising from poverty against the odds? And singing and dancing? Leaping Lizards! What wasn’t to love? And by the end of the movie, I was truly worried that Rooster would really hurt Annie!
But, I didn’t forget about E.T. and after the movie was over, I told my family that Annie was okay but I still wished I had seen E.T.
And then, I did. And it scared the crap out of me. The jangling keys. The chase through the woods. Elliot in the field encountering E.T. The scientists and all the medical equipment attached to innocent E.T.
I guess sometimes Moms might know best.