Let’s start at the very beginning, advice it’s a very good place to start.
When you read you begin with A, B, C.
When we talk about toys we begin with Ampu-E.T.
No, you heard me correctly, Ampu-E.T. The beloved E.T. stuffed doll I got the Christmas I was five – or at least I think I was five. I don’t actually remember a time in my life when I didn’t have E.T. One of my earliest memories was discovering that our Dalmatian, Belle, had chewed off E.T.s arm and I remember being so upset I chased her around the house and beat her with it. Of course, being beaten with a severed stuffed arm by a six-year old probably doesn’t make much difference to a dog (or anyone). I quickly forgave Belle of course, because I can probably count her and E.T. as the two loves of my life as a child. Unlike many of my other toys destroyed by Belle, (I’m thinking of you poor Kermit the Frog doll) giving up E.T. was never an option. I have hazy memories of trying to sew the arm back on for a while but eventually I just took care to sew up the hole where his arm used to be. I certainly didn’t love him any less and I felt an affinity for limbless children everywhere when the Easter Seals envelope would come in the mail with stamps and (what seemed to me to be) dog tags for E.T.
As my family can surely attest, E.T. went everywhere with me: he hung on the side of the kitchen table between my father & I during dinner (“Do we have to eat with that at the table!“), he went to the movies, he even went backpacking when I was older and away at camp. While other kids would have to do without a pillow I would have E.T. roped to the back of my pack during the day, and under my head at night – which is probably why he can’t actually stand up anymore and his head lolls to one side. E.T. went away to university with me, moved to Scotland with me and was only retired from having pride of place on my bed (when I was 26) because I felt he was getting a little too worn and was starting to worry about his longevity.
Not many people understood my love for this doll. My grandmother thought he was the ugliest thing ever and that his eyes were creepy. I think his eyes are soulful. I used to say that I would be buried with E.T. and then I used to think about who would be deserving enough to get him in my will. This morning, when I pulled him out of the closet to take a photo of him, (because apparently I have none from my childhood) Moira was very intrigued – she had never seen him before. I told her she could hold him if she left him alone while I took the photo. When she got her chance she grabbed him and ran to daddy and even the Mister was shocked that I let her have him. All Moira had to say was “Big eyes! Big eyes!” She’s out of the will.