A Mortifying Incident From My Childhood
So the other night my dad and little sister decided to get out an old VHS and spend the evening watching old Disney Pixar movies in the living room. It was an interesting experience for me, because as I sat there munching on my homemade pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, I was drawn back to a horrifying and absolutely mortifying story from my childhood. The “Monsters, Inc.” incident.
Here is the long and rather interesting story…
It all began in the summer of 2001. I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed five-year-old with straight hair (I know, right???) and awkwardly long legs. It was my first year as a homeschooler, so I’d never yet heard of this thing called “socialization”, and my days pretty much consisted of burying my head in “Little House on the Prairie” books and watching Disney movies on VHS. I don’t know what your family’s personal views on Disney are, but in our family he’s right up there with Theodore Roosevelt and Orville Wright. I still know all the words to every “Lion King” song and I firmly believe there will never be a first date that could compare with a magic carpet ride. Cheesy or not, flying carpets are the bomb.
But I digress.
Anyway, that was the summer that “Monsters, Inc.” was released. And truthfully, I don’t remember ever thinking that was a big deal. It’s not like we ever went to the movies anyway. We just patiently waited for Blockbusters to come out with the rental versions of our favorite movies so we could obsessively rewatch them a million times and memorize every single word. As far as I was concerned, this was just another Disney movie that Mom would let us rent one weekend a year or so from then.
However, everything changed with the purchase of one pop-tarts box.
I know what you’re thinking now. And yes, pop-tarts are evil and pretty much the equivalent of cancer in 420 calories. And I’ll probably die before my twenty-second birthday from the sheer number of pop-tarts I consumed between the ages of four and seven. But, still. This one pop-tart box changed my life in a truly drastic way.
From the moment I opened the box, my life was jolted. Mostly because a voice shouted out from inside, “HEEEEYYYY!!!! WHAT’D YOU GET??? WHAT’D YOU GET???? Look inside and seeeeeee….” and pretty much had me flying across the kitchen in total freak-out mode.
Yep, inside the box was a motion-activated recording chip that gleefully announced to me the fact that I was a winner. And my grand prize was a four-pack of tickets to see Disney-Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” at my local movie theater.
Obviously, I was over-joyed. Oh, how I paraded those tickets around church, waving them under the noses of my fellow Sunday School classmates. I was a winner! I was going to the movie theaters, like a teenager or something, to see a Disney movie for free! I walked on air for days, begging my parents to let us go to the movie theater as soon as possible.
Finally, my parents caved and drove the family to the movie theater. These were back in the before-Ruth days, so we had exactly four people to use our tickets on. We handed in the tickets and settled into the movie theater. I think we even bought popcorn, which I’m sure I thought was extremely cool. I was wiggling around in my seat when the movie started, anxious to experience this wonderful event that was sure to be the pinnacle of my childhood. There was only one problem:
“Monsters, Inc.” absolutely scared the living daylights out of me.
You know that scene with the creepy sucking machine thing that makes that awful screeching sound and grabs at Mike Wazowski’s skin and turns his face all white?
This is what it looks like in the movie:
And this is what it looked like in my head:
That scream-machine scene had me literally crying, shrieking, and begging to be taken out of the movie theater. So my poor dad had to pick me up and carry me out while my three-year-old sister peacefully sat there and enjoyed the delightful children’s film. I sat in the car, practically hyperventilating, and swearing never to watch that movie ever again.
And I didn’t. Seriously, ya’ll, I avoided “Monsters, Inc.” like the plague until I was probably thirteen years old. I remember they played it at camp once and I decided to stay in my cabin and read, rather than watch that movie. Then, eight years later, I had a babysitting job watching these two boys at my church who are pretty much obsessed with any Disney-Pixar film. They wanted to watch “Monsters, Inc.”, and I was truly skeptical. My overly-dramatic memories still haunted me. How could I possibly watch that movie again, and in front of children??? What if I started freaking out, and they got scared and began crying and their parents came home to find us all drowning in tears while a cute little girl in a furry costume danced around on the television???
After considering the options and deciding not to play the wimp card and pick out another movie, I sat down and watched it with them. And you know what I realized? That “Monsters, Inc.” is pretty much the most non-scary, totally safe, child-friendly movie ever. And I felt like a total fool for all the years I spent shirking away from it.
To this day, that movie gives me weird feelings. My dad loves to tell the whole movie theater story, and get me all red-faced in front of all my friends at being scared of animated monsters for eight years. I guess it would make me chuckle, if not for the fact that I still cover my mouth every time I scream. And I am also very suspicious of people named “Randall”, and would probably run in the opposite direction if someone by that name ever invited me to some kind of office in real life. What can I say? Disney-Pixar probably scared me for life, and I doubt I’ll ever get over that truly mortifying childhood incident…