The ‘Big’ Deal

Tom Hanks’ now classic movie came out when I was in the second grade and instantly became one of my favorite films, even though I wasn’t going to see it for three more years, thanks to my parent’s cautious censorship. (That’s another blog day.)

Back when I saw it, I was mesmerized by the creepy Zoltar machine, covetous of the giant, light-up piano, and yes, even a little (a lot?) embarrassed when Elizabeth Perkins unbuttoned her shirt.


But there was one thing I didn’t notice or wasn’t really phased by as a fifth grader: Josh Baskin/Tom Hanks’ mom, whose son was suddenly whisked away with no explanation and no date of certain return.  25 years later, I saw this story through her eyes and it changed everything.

When she pulled a knife on the man who she thought took her son (who was really her son all grown up)?  That went from “geez, Lady, calm down” to “hmmm, that totally makes sense.”

When he sang a Barbra Streisand song as proof that her son was still alive and well?  I cried with her lamentations.

And the moment he decided to give up a really great adult life with a fancy executive job, girlfriend and Manhattan apartment with a dang trampoline in it?  I finally sided with him, who decided to revert to his kid-shape.  Why?  Because his mother’s heartbreak would be quelled at last.  Because he would get to do life the way it was meant to be done.  Because if I missed Lucie’s growing years, I would be devastated.

This suit looked much better when I was a 30-year old guy.
This suit looked much better when I was a 30-year old dude.

Brie Larson just won an Oscar for playing an abductee.  I know that fans of the film are as much, if not more interested in talking about the effects of PTSD than the issue of kidnapping, but I can assure you as a parent that my greatest fears for Lucie are in order from greatest to least: kidnapping, getting hit by a car, getting addicted to drugs, and general death in her sleep.  I just asked Mama K and her list includes not having anything in common with Lucie, that she won’t be interested in sports, that she will be shy, and that Lucie will be reckless.  I’ll give you one guess as to who is Doomsday prepping for the big Pacific NW Quake and who is enrolling LB in baby gymnastics.

No, Big did not morph into a horror film for me, but I was very surprised how much one little, 30-pound aspiring Mary Lou Retton could change the way I see that world.  Even a world I thought I had already memorized verbatim from a very young age.  Shimmy shimmy cocoa pop, anyone?


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