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…




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?