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E.T. did it.

There’s a funny story that’s been in my family for three decades now. I find myself needing to rehash it every few years or so, always intending to write it down. Here it is for the record:

I’ve got a couple baby brothers. Luke, born 1979, and Jonny, born 1982. As toddlers, they couldn’t have been more different from each other. Luke — even at age three — was tall, lanky, talkative, articulate. By contrast, Jonny — two years his junior — was shorter, stockier, quieter, less articulate. They’d often talk in code with each other; Jonny would grunt out something indiscernible, while Luke would put it into words and serve as a sort of translator. Think C-3PO and R2-D2. It was all ridiculously entertaining, especially when I was in that junior high phase.

In the summer of 1982, there was no bigger cinematic sensation than Spielberg’s classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The movie was particularly fascinating to Luke, who was two and a half at the time. E.T. wasn’t just his idol, it was his alter ego. Luke went so far as to adopt E.T.’s identity as his own, and would instruct people to address him not as Lukie, but as E.T.

Mom: “Lukie, would you like some Cheerios?”

Luke: “I’m not Lukie, I’m E.T.

Mom: “Oh, right, sorry. E.T., would you like some Cheerios?”

Luke: “Sure.”

This went on for the better part of 1982, and probably into 1983.

One night after dinner, Mom walked into the kitchen and saw that somebody had gotten into the vitamin cabinet. The curious person had opened all the vitamin bottles and emptied them onto the kitchen floor. Who this mysterious person was could only have been Luke, as Jonny was too young and not nearly curious enough to have pulled such a stunt.

Infuriated, hands on her hips, Mom stood there in the kitchen amongst the pills and capsules, hollering to the back den.

Mom: “LUKIE!!!”

Luke: “Yeah, Mom?”


A long pause.

Luke: “… … … E.T. did it.”

Mom shook her head, trying not to laugh. She humored him, as usual.

Mom: “AND ARE YOU E.T.?”

An even longer, more calculated pause.

Luke: “Not anymore!”

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