As we were standing in line to check out yesterday, Lenore saw the box for the DVD re-issue of Gremlins. She was immediately drawn to the furry little guy in the picture, but curious about the scary shadow behind him. All I could remember about the movie (which I walked out on when I saw it in the theater) was that gremlins get mean if you let them get wet.
We went around the subject for a while. She didn't want to know what mean things they did (and I'm not sure I remember), but she wanted to know if they got nice at the story's end. I told her I didn't know, because the story was so mean I didn't stay to see how it ended.
I didn't give the matter much more thought than that. I remember the movie so vaguely. I get the impression that it was meant to be funny, but that no one in the theater was laughing. A little girl sat in theater with her dad. She was scared and miserable, but he hoped that watching the movie would toughen her up. I was much more involved in their drama than what happened on-screen. Eventually, I lost my temper with the parenting I was watching and stormed out of the theater.
I walked out on a lot of movies those days. When movies were cheaper, I was much more inclined to risk something I wasn't positive I'd like. It was years before I was reminded that Gremlins is a Christmas story.
Yesterday, I didn't give Gremlins any more thought, until Lenore woke me from a sound sleep. Mason got to her before I could, but even after he got her back to bed, she didn't settle down. I came in to see what the problem was. Mason said that I'd probably shared too much about Gremlins: she was sure a mean one was in her room.
So I made up an ending to the story. I had to explain what a blow-dryer was, because Lenore's never seen one. I said that the boy in the story used a blow-dryer like a gun to dry off the gremlins and make them nice again. Then I reminded her that Ice Bat was sleeping in her bed beside her, just so he could protect her from monsters. Daddy was still awake, I was sleeping in the next room, and she was safe.
To my surprise, she settled back to sleep and didn't make a peep the rest of the night.
When I was about her age, I saw The Blob at my grandmother's one Thanksgiving. All I remember the scene in the movie theater, when the blob squeezes through the vent and all the people scream and run away. Grandma's TV was black-and-white, so that's the way I dreamed about the monster. I only found out the blob was red when I was in college. For years as a kid, I was afraid the blob would ooze up through the heating vent in the bathroom. Some nights, I was sure I could see its glow coming up toward my feet. The terror was so huge and indescribable -- and my parents didn't even remember exposing me to the movie.
Now I think that glow-in-the-dark monster encapsulated everything that was huge and inescapable in my life. Something is going to provide that function for Lenore, too.
Maybe not gremlins, though. This morning she told me that a mean gremlin was hiding in the living room behind the sofa. I told her that the furnace was on, so his fur would dry out soon. Gremlins are afraid of light, I said, so we opened the curtains and turned on the lights. Then she befriended the gremlin, offering it some dried mango. She took it to her room and found it a toy to snuggle. Now they're watching TV.
I hope all her monsters are as easy to tame.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports