Over the summer, I had taken a day off from work so that I could take my son Michael in to the Doctors for his hearing test. He had been tested at his 4 year checkup, but had failed because he was suffering from one of his many ear infections at the time. He had been to the Doctors a lot in the weeks before the retest for various illnesses (pink eye, ear infection, shots, etc…) and I was afraid that I was going to have a hard time convincing him to go to the appointment (In his last visit, it took both my wife and I to carry him out to the car and then one of us had to hold him down while the other strapped into the car seat to get to the office). So I did what any other responsible parent would do in that situation, I bribed him with a promise that as soon as the appointment was over, I’d take him to see Toy Story 3. The movie had been out for a couple weeks and several of his friends had already seen it, so it was something he wanted to do. He was pretty anxious at the Doctors office, so while we were in the waiting room, I distracted him by talking about his favorite scenes and characters from the first two Toy Story movies. I got him pretty excited and by the time we got back into the test area, he was ok with the visit. The test went well and the woman who administered the test was impressed with how well behaved Michael was and when he told her that we were going to see Toy Story 3, she got excited and told Michael how jealous she was because she really want to see the movie too. That really got him worked up. So once we got out of the Doctors office, we headed home for a quick pit stop and headed to the movies.
We got there a little after lunch and saw one of the early shows, so there were not a lot of people in the theater. I let Michael pick the seats (even though I directed him to the last row as it’s the best place to watch because no one kicks the back of your seat.) We sat through the previews and when the movie started, Michael was totally into it. He loved seeing Buzz and Woody and the Evil Doctor Pork chop train scene. He didn’t quite understand the going to college, giving away toy parts, but he was enjoying the movie, that was until the evil Monkey Doll showed up. If you haven’t seen the movie, there is one of those Monkey toys that have the clanking cymbals. One like this:
He went from enjoying the Movie to being totally petrified. In the movie, the monkey acts as a security guard and he screeches and clangs his cymbals when one of the toys tries to escape the preschool. This really freaked Michael out. He never left the movie, but he hid his eyes and closed his ears anytime the monkey was onscreen. Fortunately, the monkey only has a small part, and Michael was able to watch the rest of the movie, but when we left the theater, all he could talk about was the evil monkey and how he didn’t like the monkey and he doesn’t want to ever see one of those monkeys because he’d need his dinosaurs to beat it up. He really hated that monkey.
This reminded me of something from my childhood. When I was 4 or 5, a movie came out called Magic. It was a horror movie about a lousy magician whose act is improved when he discovers a ventriloquist’s doll. The doll at first is a big hit, but it eventually ends up causing the guy to go crazy and he goes around killing the people in the magicians life so that eventually he can take over and posses the magician. I never saw the movie; I was too terrified by the commercials. The ventriloquist doll in the movie looks a little like the Charlie McCarthy dummy that Edgar Bergen used on TV. The sight of either of those dolls scared me beyond belief. So being a good parent, my mother went out and bought a Charlie McCarthy doll to use to scare me into behaving. This thing scared me so much that I was afraid to be alone in the house, because I was afraid that the thing would come to life and get me. My mom eventually saw how freaked out I was and she told me she threw it out and that she was sorry for scaring me. A couple of years later, I was upstairs looking for a toy in the junk room and I found the doll. This scared me so bad because I thought the thing had come back on its own and was trying to get me. I went screaming downstairs to my mom, who told me she never threw it out because it cost a lot of money and she thought she had hid it well enough that i'd never find it. She told me to grow up, that it was just a toy and that it wouldn’t hurt me. I decided to wait till she went to work and I threw it out with the trash the following week. Little did I know that my mom found it in the trash, and put it back up in the junk room. So several years later I nearly had a heart attack when I found the thing again. I was about 10 years old and I still couldn’t look at the face of the doll, so I got several trash bags, and looking like a hazmat person I wrapped myself and the doll up in the bags and got on my bike and put it in my friend’s trashcan. 27 years later, I still haven’t seen the doll, so I think I’m safe, but I still can’t look at ventriloquist dummies without getting nervous.
When Toy Story 3 came out on DVD, my wife was out with Michael at the store and she was going to buy it because it’s a good movie and she hadn’t seen it. Michael said NO WAY, he never wanted to see that monkey again. I forgot about how badly he reacted to the monkey and bought the movie myself later that day. I realize now that I’ve brought into the house Michael’s version of the Charlie McCarthy doll. He doesn’t know we have it and I’ll never make him watch it again, but because of what my mom did to me, I’m considering maybe giving the movie to someone like my sister to hold onto, because I don’t even want Michael to know I brought it in the house. I don’t want to ever traumatize him the way my mother did to me. Plus that Monkey is really creepy!