I've never forgotten the old video shop which my mum and I would frequent most weekends when I was growing up. It was right behind our house and every weekend we would walk there and hand over our yellow laminated membership card. This was before my town was introduced to a Blockbuster store (RIP, I miss you every day), so it was the only place we could go when it was time for a good film night on a budget.
I must have been about five or six at the time and my bedroom was covered in Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles wallpaper. I loved those guys. And I would almost religiously pick up a TMNT video when we went into the shop to rent a movie.
But there was also another film on the shelf that I desired maybe even more than my green half-shell heroes.
The video's cover depicted a frizzy red-haired figure with a big red nose and wide grin. His face, covered in white greasepaint, leaned toward the camera as both his long green fingers curled down over the movie's title.
The film was Stephen King's mini-series IT, and the demonic face of Pennywise the Dancing Clown struck such as cord with me that from the moment I laid eyes on the image I simply had to see the film.
I begged and pleaded my mum to rent the movie every time we went in the shop, and every time she would turn to me and say "When you're old enough to watch it," or "No, this film is too scary." The problem, of course, is that telling a child no is like looking for tears in the Arctic; ain't gonna happen!
So I kept begging and pleading, each time settling on one of my beloved Turtles movies, until one night when I went to grab IT off the shelf, it was gone. When I looked to my mum I saw that white greasepaint face and awful grin staring back at me from under her arm. She'd already picked it up!
"Do you really want to see this film?" she asked me.
"Yes." I'd never been so sure of anything in my entire life.
"OK," she said, and turned to walk back to the counter.
I looked at the image again, taking in the sallow eyes, the hideous grin, the wild hair, the long probing fingers.
And I screamed.
I screamed and I pulled at her hand and I pleaded again, only now it was for the opposite of what I had wanted.
My mum stopped, turned to me and simply said, "That's what I thought."
I've never forgotten that moment and I never will. I've since watched IT, several hundred times actually, and love it. But I wasn't ready to watch it then.
This is just a humorous anecdote of growing up and trying to run into the world of horror before I could walk.