A Lesson to Children Everywhere

When I was a little girl, my parents took me to see E.T. at the cinema. It was a rather traumatic experience for my young self. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I LOVED the film. I mean, a little wrinkly alien as a pet/friend? What’s not to love? But after sitting, wide-eyed, through the first part of the movie, we came to THAT scene. You know the one. The one where…

… OK, I’ll whisper it just in case anyone out there hasn’t seen E.T. and doesn’t want me to spoil it for them. Read on at your peril, people…

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The scene where E.T. appears to be DEAD.

Oh. Em. Gee. I was absolutely aghast, and I was aghast for two reasons. I just couldn’t understand why:

1. Someone had decided to make a CHILDREN’S FILM, in which they spent most of the movie encouraging you to love the cute little alien dude, only to ruthlessly kill him off, like, “Haha, kids, welcome to the REAL world!” This seemed totally irresponsible to me, and I felt sure I would be psychologically damaged by it for the rest of my life. Or, I mean, I would’ve felt that if I’d actually known what it meant, obviously.

2. That my parents had suffered such a huge lapse of judgement as to bring me – ME! – to see such a film. Obviously they wanted to ruin my life. And it had worked.

So I did what any impressionable child with a flair for TEH DRAMA would have done. I screamed the place down.

“He’s DEEEEEEEAAAAAAADDDDD!!!!!!!” I wailed to my parents, and, indeed, to the rest of the cinema. “Heeeeeeeee’sssss DEEEEEEAAAAAAADDDDDD!!!! Why did you bring me to SEEEEEEEEEEE this? DEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDD! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!”

In vain, my mother tried to comfort me. I would not be consoled. They were just on the verge of removing me from the cinema, when E.T’s little red heart started to glow once more.

“HE’S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEE!” I shrieked. And after that, I didn’t get to go to the cinema no more. Not until I’d learned how to behave, my parents told me. Readers, I haven’t been back since.

When I left the movie theatre that day, though, I left with a new obsession in my life. I wanted an E.T. of my very own – and sorry, but when I got him, I wasn’t going to be helping him “phone home” either. In fact, the absence of a small, wrinkled alien in my life was suddenly absolutely intolerable to me, and once it had been gently explained to me that the likelihood of my finding an ACTUAL alien in the woods was slim (Although, that said, where we live now, it wouldn’t be THAT surprising…), I settled upon the next best thing: I wanted a stuffed leather E.T. And I wanted it BAD.

These little stuffed toys had just come out at the time , and they were actually made from fake leather, but of course, my small self wasn’t about to split hairs on that matter. I talked about the leather E.T. incessantly. In fact, the words “LEATHER” and “E.T.” in the same sentence still have the power to reduce my parents to quivering wrecks of people.  (You’d think that particular combination of words wouldn’t come up THAT often in conversation. You would be wrong, as you’re about to discover.) That December, I asked Santa for one:

The problem with that though, was that these leather – I’m sorry, “lether” – E.T.s were not to be had for love nor money. I guess they were that year’s “must have” toy (ah, the innocence of the age! Now kids probably want an iPhone and…  I don’t know, a car, maybe? A space ship? Not a stuffed toy, anyway…) and although my parents – I mean “Santa” – searched exhaustively for one, they just couldn’t find it.  So Christmas came and went, and E.T. … didn’t. That was the year I stopped believing in Santa. (No, I’m joking. I still believe in Santa didn’t stop believing in Santa until he’d failed to bring the pony for 25 consecutive years. After that, you start to doubt the dude, don’t you?)

My parents resumed the search in time for my birthday the next year, and I think for a couple of years after that. It was to no avail. The leather E.T.s were gone, just like the REAL E.T. Some stupid spaceship had probably come along and beamed them all up, and I think we all know who we can blame for THAT, don’t we, ELLIOT? After a couple of years had passed, though, my parents figured I would probably move onto the next thing, and forget all about the leather E.T. But they were WRONG. I didn’t EVER forget the leather E.T. In fact, I continued to mention it at regular intervals for THE REST OF MY LIFE. Uh-huh.

The last time I mentioned it was just a few weeks ago, when my mum had unearthed the letter above. It was on this occasion that Terry heard The Sad Tale of How Amber Never Got a Leather E.T. That Time for the first one hundredth time. And finally, people – FINALLY – my luck was in. Because when I came home from walking Rubin this morning, this was the scene that was waiting for me:

It’s a stuffed E.T in OMGLEATHER. And it’s an original one: one of the very toys that eluded me throughout my childhood. Yes, he had come to me AT FREAKING LAST. Man, Santa Claus is almost as slow as Royal Fail, isn’t he?

He’s been well-loved this E.T. His “lether” is cracked, and coming off in some places, and his head has a bit of a droop to it, but this just makes me like him all the more. It also makes me OUTRAGED on his behalf, because seriously, who could sell their beloved childhood toy so heartlessly? It would be like me selling TED! Who could honestly look at this face:

And think, “Yeah, I’m going to put you on eBay, then stick you in a box and entrust your precious self to the ROYAL FAIL? So long, beloved companion of my youth!” It makes me want to cry just to think of it. (No, it ACTUALLY makes me want to cry. I can be very sentimental about things like that.)

Still, Leather E.T. has found a safe home with me, although maybe not so much with Ted, who will probably try to lead him astray at some point, just like he does all the toys. Sigh.

Anyway, there is an important lesson in all of this to children everywhere. It is this: if you really, really want something, all you have to do is whine about it incessantly, and do it FOREVER. Eventually someone will crack, and you will get your thing. Patience, my children.

And on that note: have I ever mentioned that I’d quite like a pony?


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20 Comments

  • Toni says:

    Aw! This is pretty much the happiest, most heart-warming blog post I’ve ever read :)

    (And I love the fact that young-Amber used to sign her name “Amber McNaught”. I used to do that, too. It’s like we were afraid SOME OTHER PERSON WITH OUR NAME might get our stuff.)

  • Rebecca says:

    This is a hilarious (and also very sweet) post. Love it.

  • Leigh says:

    Aw, I’m glad this story finally had a happy ending. I, on the other hand, was terrified of E.T. when I was little. It took me years to be able to watch it all the way through.

  • Hazel says:

    This has actually made me night! (My life is really action packed obv)

    Those toys & the ET used to (& still do, but shhh) scare me.
    When it first came out I remember wanting to stay up & watch it with my older brothers but I wasn’t allowed, so to put me off my brother told me it was about an alien that eats children. But as I was a little sneak I creeped out of bed & into the living room only to encounter the scene when ET reaches out for Elliot in a very sickly state. I had nightmares for weeks!
    I’m 20 now & I still cannot look at the film or ET toys without some minor fear!

    (Not a very uplighting story there…)

    x

  • Melissa says:

    I never got a Princess Leia figure when I was a kid. I still bring that up every once in a while. I ended up buying one at Target that was a re-release of the ones that were out when I was a kid. Now I have one.

    I’ve posted before that I have a bear that looks a lot like Ted. I couldn’t imagine ever getting rid of him. He’s still in my bedroom. My parents are moving and I’ve had to go through all the childhood toys still at their house. It’s been interesting and there are certain toys I can’t part with at all.

    • Amber says:

      The story of how I got my Princess Leia figure is legendary in our house – basically the only one left (in, like, THE WORLD) was part of a display in a department store, and was stuck to the wall next to the escalator. My dad had to either go up the down escalator or down the up escalator, I forget which one, to secure it for me. I don’t think the people in the store were very happy, but if he hadn’t done that, I’d still be complaining about it now, obviously…

  • LS says:

    I had a plastic (I guess action figure?) of ET when I was little. I used to stick him in the freezer to scare my parents, and my friends’ parents. :P

  • Kathleen says:

    Aw, this is a really sweet story. Though I have to agree with the other posters that I also found ET kind of scary and creepy when I was a child. But that stuffed toy is really cute though. And I quite enjoy the ET ride at Universal Studios (the one in Hollywood)!

  • katri says:

    No. Just no. I had to wait to be born before I could see the movie, but when it finally happened I couldn’t even go to the toilet alone because I was scared ET would be hiding behind the shower curtain. I’d keep an eye on that lethery little thing.

  • Lauren says:

    Aww how sweet, Terry is the best! you are a lucky girl!

  • Siel says:

    Such a funny and lovely story! So sweet that Terry finally got you an ET. Maybe he’s saving up for your pony now?

  • Kate says:

    I will totally understand if this is the end of our Internet-y correspondence, but…

    I totally don’t like ET. The movie freaked me out – when everyone has the biohazard suits in the house? And then how ET looks when he’s weak? Eww. No. It freaked me the hell out when I was a kid.

    THAT SAID, Terry fucking rocks. I hope you and “lether” ET have many happy years and adventures :-)

  • Laav says:

    And now, I want to watch E.T. again.
    And I’m really loving the tales of little Amber.
    When I was little, I always insisted on getting a Christmas tree and decorating it with paper dolls I made. And I cried until they got a slightly bigger one each year. (Er, just to note, I’m not Christian.)

  • BWC says:

    Awww..I really wish I’d written stuff down more often when I was younger. Amber McNaught McNaught is hilarious!
    And Terry gets a million Awesome points, obviously.

  • Roisin says:

    Ms McNaught McNaught, you got a good man there. This story is so sweet! A few years back I had something similar – when I was a child I had a Rainbow Brite doll that I really loved. I must have been mad for the show because my bedroom was decorated in Rainbow Brite stuff too. Anyhow, one wintery Sunday afternoon we went for a walk in a local forest park and RB came with me. My little sister C was about 5 at the time and she had a toy pram and wanted to put RB in it, so I obliged and let her get on with it, when we got back to the car as the park was closing RB and the pram were nowhere to be found – C got tired of pushing the pram and ditched it somewhere. Cue lots of sobbing, but it was too late to go and look for the dolly. Daddy went back the next morning to look but RB was nowhere to be found. I was so upset that he and my mum put an advert in the local paper asking if anyone had found her! No luck, and after a while I got over it and life moved on.
    Then when I was in 6th form my mum discovered ebay, and remembering my trauma at the disappearance of RB found one on ebay and bought it for me as a suprise. However, when it arrived it was only a little one (mine was a full sized one) so she was very disappointed. I was really touched that she’d remembered all the same, and went to school and told my friend Joanne the whole story. She came in the next day with a full size RB for me. She’d had it as a child, and when she told her mum the story the two of them decided to give me the RB doll to make up for the one I lost. They even washed her and combed her hair and everything! I was so touched, both of those RB dolls are now as treasured as the one I lost. Sometimes people are awesome :)

    • Amber says:

      Aww, that is such a fantastic story – it’s made me tear up again (*sentimental fool*). It’s so heartwarming to hear of people being so kind, I can just imagine your excitement :) (Can also totally imagine your absolute horror at discovering the loss of the doll – aargh!)

  • Stephen says:

    OMG. Woolco! :+)

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