In today's blog post I mentioned a terrible E.T. statue that was the catalyst for "You WILL show some gratitude, goddamnit" indoctrination in my childhood. You can see the statue, above.
Here is the tale for the interested. And the brave.
The movie E.T., when I saw it in theaters, gave me nightmares.
This object gave me different nightmares.
But I choked out a "thank you" to my Aunt as instructed and took it home, where I promptly wrapped it back up in layers of tissue paper and put it in the trash can in my room. Problem solved, seven-year-old style!
My dad was fanatical about recycling and separating trash long before it was a widespread thing, plus he liked to double-check that nobody was throwing anything away that could be useful, so when he found it in the week's trash compilation, he assumed it was an accident or a joke my brothers played on me, and he put it back in my room without saying anything to me.
To this almost-8-year-old, this is how that translated: I got rid of it. And then it came back.
So I threw it away again.
And it came back again.
I didn't want to say anything about it (it was a gift after all, and I'd already gotten in trouble for expressing dismay about it) so I kept trying to throw it away. I'd wrap it in obvious garbage, put it in other garbage-cans in the house or try to bypass Dad (once I got older and somewhat figured out that it was him and not, you know, spontaneously re-manifesting) and sneak it into a load that was imminently bound for the dump, but he'd always find it.
And return it my bookshelf.
Or (shudder) my nightstand, where I did not notice it at first because who the fuck would put THAT next to where a child sleeps?
So, it wasn't just an ugly statue that reminded me of a movie that had given me months of nightmares that I got when I had CLEARLY asked for a Millennium Falcon, it was a motherfucking Monkey's Paw.
Eventually, I wrapped it in something and stored it in the back of the closet, where it stayed hidden for many years. I mostly forgot about it.
But it hadn't forgotten about me.
That's right, one semester break when I came home from college, there it fucking was, in its jaunty hat, mocking me, from the top of the dresser. I think I legit screamed when I saw it. My dad said he'd been getting the room ready for me and stumbled across it (wrapped in 10,000 layers of tissue paper and taped into a shoebox and hidden in the furthest reaches of the closet, but, sure, Frank, if you say so) and put it out for me. He'd put other old (non-cursèd) toys out, too, to "welcome me home," so I gritted my teeth, waited for him to leave the room, and secured it again, this time in a closet that contained spare blankets and his giant collection of pristine, never-worn baseball caps.
Again it slumbered.
Again I mostly forgot about it.
But in 2007, I went home for another visit during grad school, and there it was, AGAIN.
Could this have been solved by a conversation? Probably! "Dad, I've never liked that thing, stop putting it out when I visit!" But my Captain Awkward assertiveness powers were still nascent, so I asked my LiveJournal friends what should I do since I knew if I tried to throw it away or put it away again it would just return. They spoke as one: "Take it with you when you go, obviously."
So I brought it to Chicago, where I could dispose of it properly. Until I could amass holy water and a safe place to build a fire, my roommates and I began a merry game of hiding the statue to "surprise" each other.
Surprise! It's in the blender!
Surprise! It's in the shower where you keep the shampoo.
Surprise! There was a power outage when you were in the bathroom, and now it's next to a little votive candle outside the bathroom door, waiting to say hello!
One of its horrible pointy hands broke off during our hijinks and that became part of our game, too. Once my roommate Z. was on a date and returned to find the hand on his pillow, holding a wrapped mint.
He had his revenge, since I'd thought I was rid of the thing forever when I hid it in the back seat of his rarely-used car (buckled in with a seatbelt for him to spot in the rearview mirror) when we were all in the process of moving out, but he gave it to my then-boyfriend, who decided it would be "funny" if when we and the movers rolled up to our new apartment it was already inside, waiting for me on the back of the toilet in "my" bathroom.
Fucking. Enough. Already. We weren't even unpacked when I located dish gloves, a hammer, matches, and lighter fluid, took it to the alley, smashed it to near-dust, burned the dust with fire, poured holy water on the ashes (I had stocked up for just this occasion, I'm not religious anymore but I like being SURE), separated the wet still-smoking detritus into at least 20 distinct zip lock bags, and discarded them in 20 separate dumpsters around the city.
I'll leave you with two things:
1) Not even a week later I was walking around in the new neighborhood and spotted this less than a block away. (Scroll down)
2) The broken-off hand was separated from the statue and is still out there somewhere.