This story hails from my younger days. It was way back in the year 1986. I was 5 years old, and my family was friends with the family across the street. They had two girls, and the three of us spent our formative years generally raising hell. By the time we were in 2nd grade, we were making bows and arrows out of sticks and bailing twine, and those suckers could get some distance. We were a force to be reckoned with, let me tell you.
Our moms must have tired of reckoning with our collective force, because they decided one afternoon to take us to see a movie.
Off we went...and yes, the car was totally rockin' the wood paneling. This was the 1980s, after all...
The film of choice was, you've probably gathered by now, Sleeping Beauty. You know, that old Disney film where Jessica Simpson falls asleep and some guy who looks like a brunette version of Vanilla Ice comes along and kisses her to wake her up. That dude must have had some seriously awful breath to wake her up after all that time. Come to think of it, after being asleep that long, I can't imagine her mouth tasted like roses either.
Anyway, we got to the theatre, which was one of those crazy multiplexes that showed like six films.
We got in line.
The long line.
Now, as the line crawled toward the box office where our moms would obtain our tickets, there was this dude who would occasionally emerge from the box office and wander along the line, saying "(movie title), sold out. (movie title), sold out."
My memory's a bit foggy, and perhaps he didn't take quite so much glee in his work, but with the forlorn looks and cries of despair that appeared in his wake, whatever he was doing had quite the impact on people. Heads hanging, eyes down, they'd trudge away from the line, looking defeated and totally bummed.
That kind of power is bound to go to someone's head, you know?
I didn't understand the reactions to his announcements, and I really didn't understand his announcements.
SHUT UP, I WAS FIVE.
So I asked my mom. Apparently "Sold Out" meant all the tickets for a particular show were sold, and anyone without a ticket was out of luck. It would seem there was a finite number of seats in every auditorium, and standing in line was not, in fact, a guarantee of seeing a film. Another childhood illusion ruined, and I wasn't even in kindergarten yet.
It was only a matter of time before The Bringer of Doom and Ticket Denials wandered down the line again, and my friends and I soon joined our line-mates in their forlornness, because he had this to say:
Our moms were not deterred, though. They'd already carted us a half an hour across town in the Glorious Wagon O' Wood Paneling, and they would not be denied their hour and a half of the three of us sitting still and being quiet. No, really. Park us in front of a movie, and we STFU. We were pretty cool that way. We'd be quiet, relatively still, and wouldn't fashion weapons out of barnyard debris. Total win situation for the moms.
They looked at the movie posters along the wall, and...ah ha! A solution presented itself!
This had to be a cute movie, they said to themselves. Or maybe each other...by this point, the three of us had probably been distracted by something shiny and had forgotten all about the movies.
But with a name like Critters, a barnyard in the background, and a clearly sci-fi theme to it (battle? Galactic? Oh! Star Wars!), it was probably something cute and reasonably suitable for us. After all, we watched all kinds of not-made-for-kids movies without batting an eye, so we were already cool with movies that weren't all glitzy animation and singing animals.
"Guess what, kids?" said they. "We're going to see Critters!"
None of us had a clue what this movie was really about, but we loved animals and Star Wars, so...win! The line was endured, the tickets were purchased, and seats were commandeered.
Now, this is where an iPhone would have been handy. One of our moms could have done a quick Google search, checked out the trailer, and perhaps seen that Critters had an alternate movie poster that was not displayed at our particular theatre.
That poster looked a little something like this:
About five minutes into the movie, we started to wonder if we'd perhaps bitten off more than we could chew.
Then it got scary. Blood, guts, hideous creatures doing horrific things and cackling maniacally, and we did what any five year-olds would do in that situation.
We dove behind our seats.
I know, I know. Logically, we could have hidden behind the seats in front of us, but a terrified five year-old doesn't necessarily go through the entire plan of action before implementing it. In fact, I think it was about twenty years before it occurred to me that we could have just ducked behind those seats instead of leaping over our own. I'm a slow learner, gimme a break.
We endured the movie.
And afterward, we went home. And you know what that evening had in common with that afternoon? What common theme connected day to night?
There was no Sleeping Beauty that day, and there sure as shit wasn't any Sleeping Beauty that night.