- CRITTER TALK
- NEWS I FIND INTERESTING
I had gone with my Mom to pick up my cousin, Margaret, at her grandfather’s house so she could spend the weekend with my family. When we arrived, we were told by Margaret’s grandfather that she was going to be late because she had a girl scout meeting, which he was leaving for.
So that left my Mom and me stuck at the house waiting for them. It left my Mom in a bit of a bind because as most parents know, keeping a young child occupied for two hours with nothing to do can drive a person insane. I wandered around the house for thirty minutes, poking my head into rooms, closets, and rifling through drawers looking for anything interesting. My Mom sat in the living room, channel surfing on the TV, hoping to find something we could watch to kill time.
Anyone else probably would have found a channel playing cartoons to keep me occupied, but my Mom isn’t the cartoon watching type. As I rummaged around my cousin’s room, I heard my Mom call out, “Greg! Come here! You have to see this!”
I ran over to the living room to see what she wanted. “What is it, Mommy?”
She said, “Channel Seven is going to show one of my favorite movies on TV! Watch it with me!”
“What is it?” I asked.
My Mom said, “It’s called PSYCHO!”
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Compared to some other movies, PSYCHO is pretty tame compared to films today, but remember, this was 1976. Back then, this was like showing a toddler Gone Girl. I didn’t really want to watch, but my mother kept insisting it was a great film and that I would love it.
Not knowing any better and not having anything else to do, I decided to give it a try. Besides, my mother was so excited to share the movie with me, I figured it must have been something special. To give it a real theatre experience, my Mother closed all the heavy curtains and turned off all the lights.
Then the movie started. The first thing that hit me was the music. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. It was like a siren filtered through broken glass. It made me feel like something evil was chasing me even though my Mom had her arms draped around me.
Even though I didn’t totally understand the plotline, my Mother clarified things in between commercials. The longer I watched, the more enraptured I became. Pretty soon, I got sucked into the story.
I didn’t really think Norman Bates was a bad person; at five years old, I just felt sorry for him. As far as him dressing up as his mother, I didn’t think anything of it. After all, at my age, everybody dressed up once or twice. Of course, we outgrow it, but I figured Norman liked it a lot more than he should have. I asked what a transvestite was, and my mother explained it without passing judgment. She also explained that not everyone who dressed up in women’s clothes was violent like Norman Bates.
By the time the movie was over, I had so many things turning over in my mind that it was hard to keep track. They say kids are like sponges in their first five years of life, and let me tell you, I think that moment was when I realized my worldview was pretty limited.
Not only that but by watching PSYCHO, it opened up a love of movies that’s lasted my whole life. I also felt special knowing that my Mother shared one of her favorite things with me. If you’re wondering if the movie scarred me for life, it didn’t. But I don’t mind admitting that it gave me a real fear of seeing silhouettes in shower curtains. You can imagine how relieved I was when we moved and had bathrooms with stalls instead of tubs.
My mother hates it when I tell this story to people, mostly because she thinks it makes her look like a bad parent. But what she doesn’t realize is that to me, it’s a treasured childhood memory. It’s one of the things that shaped my influences. Without my Mom, I would never have been introduced to Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, two of my inspirations as a writer. Besides, it’s not like she showed me the EXORCIST. The plain simple truth is this- kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Parents do their best with what they have. My Mom and Dad did a good job in my opinion. My brother and I aren’t criminals, druggies, or alcoholics. That alone should merit an award.
Look, you can judge my mother all you want, but at the end of the day, she is a good person and a great mom. And yeah, she drives me crazy, and there are times when I thought I might snap and parade around in her clothes, but the main reason I don’t is that we’re not the same size and I hate her fashion sense.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.