The first movie I ever saw in the movie theater was Ghostbusters. I was four years old.
It went about as well as you can imagine.
My father had the both of us girls for the evening; four year-old me and my six year-old sister. He decided he’d take us to our first real movie; a cinematic milestone of life.
Kitten, your first theater movie was Frozen. Buddy, yours was Big Hero 6. We got Ghostbusters. Rated PG.
Also out that year were The Karate Kid, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and The NeverEnding Story (I could have seen that on the big screen!!). To be fair, there’s not a single cartoon in there that would have been an obvious choice. I assume my father went with the least offensive selection on the marquee: a comedy. I suppose he could have also just left the theater and not subjected his daughters to larger-than-life ghosts, but how scarring could a comedy be?? Right?
For the record, also out that year were Children of the Corn, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. So, I guess it could have been worse. It’s possible I could have been so scarred as to never wear a striped shirt again, which would have been a shame. I’m quite fond of stripes.
As it is, I’m just not overly fond of possessed eggs.
I’m pretty sure I spent most of that experience behind my hands. I remember lowering my guard when I saw the StayPuff Marshmallow Man and thinking he was pretty silly, but surely he would save the day!…until he got those angry eyes and started destroying the city. Why, would a marshmallow do that? Why??
When we got home my mother couldn’t figure out why we wouldn’t go upstairs. Up the long, dark, staircase into the swallowing abyss of the upstairs.
We cried at the bottom of the stairs. “Don’t make us go! It’s scary!”
“What are you afraid of?” She asked.
“Anything could be up there!”
“What gave you that idea?”
“Well, the movie…the ghosts.”
“You took them to a ghost movie?!” Busted.
“It was a comedy!” Dad defended.
Sympathy or no, we had to go upstairs. We could take as long as we liked, but we were going. My sister and I clung to each other and inched our way up each step in the dark. We just had to make it to the light switch at the top of the stairs. Just a little further.
When we were close to the top my sister (the taller) had to release my hand so that she could stand on her toes and reach the switch. Terrifyingly long moments passed until the hallway was bathed in precious, life-affirming light; dispelling all ghosts and ghouls. We were safe…this night.
For months this played out. On particularly bad nights one of us would be too scared to leave the bottom landing and the other would have to scale the steps alone to reach the switch. There were negotiations, pleadings, and pledges of solidarity. Our mother would just shake her head at our dramatics. “Do what you’ve gotta do, but get up those stairs.”
Years later, and much recovered, when I was about 9 years old. I stepped up the first stair on the case and noticed something out of the corner of my eye. A light switch. At the bottom of the stairs.
I immediately yelled for my sister (whom I’d caught up with in height). “Look! Look what they put in! A switch at the bottom of the stairs! Finally! Boy, don’t we wish that was there about 5 years ago?? Ha!”
We called our mother over. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is genius! You guys should have put this here years ago!”
“That was there years ago. We didn’t add that. I’s always been there.”
“I always wondered why you girls never used it. Always slinking up the stairs together like nervous rabbits. I figured it was a game. You really didn’t know it was here? That’s so funny!” And she just walked off like she hadn’t been withholding critical, life-changing information for our entire lives.
Yes, Mother. Hilarious.