"Old Yeller" is one of the worst movies EVER.
Its right up there with "Where the Red Fern Grows" and "E.T." and "Little Women" and a handful of other movies I can remember (with shocking clarity) SOBBING while watching as a kid. (Side note- who makes horrifyingly sad movies and targets kids with them? Sadistic, stupid, terrible people, that's who)
I watched Old Yeller as a kid, and I remember thinking, after I had finished crying and crying and crying, that I would NEVER WATCH THAT STUPID MOVIE EVER AGAIN.
And I held to that for many, many years.
And then my brother let his kids watch it, and they told my kids about how awesome it was...and my kids began begging me to get it.
"NO!" I responded. "That is the worst movie in the world!"
"WHY???" they pleaded. Well, I didn't want to spoil the movie for them, and I even managed to convince myself it wasn't as bad as I remembered...and I gave in and broke my boycott.
We laid on my bed and watched it (because my room is the only place with a VHS player, and I borrowed my mom's VHS copy of the world's stupidest movie, because I didn't own it. (DUH)) and by the time the wolf and Old Yeller were battling it out, and the mother was screaming "Travis!!! Get your GUN!" I was screaming too, and covering my eyes and saying (out loud to my kids who were in rapt attention ) "this is a stupid movie!!! I can't believe I let you talk me into this!"
And another thing- what kind of dumb family builds a huge fire when they KNOW that rabies is on the loose? And why were they dumb enough to FORGET to bring their gun? Isn't the number one rule of the wide open plains "Always have a gun with you?" I have never lived in the untamed wilderness, but even I know that rule.
Stupid movie. (I guess this is as good a place as any to apologize for all the times the word 'stupid' appears in this post. Also, to give you a spoiler alert...I will be ranting about the end of this movie, so if you haven' seen it...well, actually, I highly recommend that you never do, and so the spoiler doesn't matter)
Right, so of COURSE Old Yeller comes to the rescue of the stupid family. He fights off the wolf, and the mother screams "Travis! Bring your gun!" and Travis brings his gun, and moments of terror follow where the growling and snapping and fighting can be heard, and Travis waits for just the right shot so he doesn't kill his beloved dog...and then BANG! The wolf is slain, and Old Yeller is alive, albeit covered in blood and dirt and bite marks.
And then the mother breaks the potentially horrible news to Travis. "That wolf was MAD." Meaning Old Yeller just got into a death match with a rabid animal.
Travis is optimistic. After all, Old Yeller has survived a number of close scrapes so far in the movie. But he agrees to pin his dearly loved dog up in a pen until they can be sure he hasn't contracted the deadly disease through any of the numerous puncture wounds inflicted by the wolf.
Oh yes, you know where this is heading. After several days of Yeller looking just fine, and Travis growing more and more sure that things will turn out right, he goes to the pen to feed his dog, only to find Yeller growling and snapping and foaming at the mouth and trying to attack the door of the pen where Travis is standing.
And once again, Travis gets his gun.
See what I mean? STUPID movie.
As a kid, I cried and cried over the tragedy of Travis having to kill his beloved dog. I related to the family who had lost their pet (who was really more than a pet).
But as an adult, I had a different reaction.
I found myself relating to Old Yeller.
I, too, am willing to lay down my life for my family. I would fight off a rabid wolf for them (In fact, I do that every day. The rabid wolf's name is LAUNDRY) and I am frequently locked in a pen (otherwise known as my house) against my will.
Old Yeller loved Travis, but the rabies made him MAD.
I think maybe I have rabies.
Because sometimes I find myself snarling and baring my teeth at the people I love most in the world.
The argument can be made that it wasn't Old Yeller's fault. The family was stupid, and careless, and Old Yeller was just doing what all good dogs are supposed to do. He protected his family, and then they locked him in a pen and SHOT HIM.
The other day we were driving down the road and Nate said "Mom, here, my gum is out of taste" and tried to hand me his ABC gum WHILE I WAS DRIVING. He dropped it, because I couldn't reach back and get it while safely operating the vehicle, and he couldn't find where it had fallen...and my rabies jumped to the surface.
"Nate! Are you kidding me? Its almost summer, and that gum is going to get all sticky and melted, and someone will step in it, and ruin their shoes and our van. You will find it, or I will never give you gum again!!!"
And in their minds, my family was thinking "Travis, get your GUN!"
Yes, I still think Old Yeller is the world's stupidest movie.
But, sometimes, rabid animals (and mothers) need to be SHOT.
Thank goodness my own personal rabies has an antidote. Several, in fact. My kids know that when I bury my head in my hands and start praying out loud, they better run for the hills, because the fangs are about to come out. Praying is a good antidote for my MADNESS.
As is laughter. Being quick to laugh at the crazy antics of my wild bunch keeps my foaming mouth at bay.
Reminding myself of the big picture helps too. "You love them, you don't want to rip them to shreds. This is a small thing. They can't help it they built a huge fire, forgot their gun, and didn't see the rabid wolf until it tried to attack them. You love these people. You will protect them and lay down your life for them, however absurd they are acting!"
Time with fellow Old Yeller's (otherwise known as my sister and my friends(sorry for calling all of you potentially rabid dogs)) also relieves my itch to snarl and snap. Something about baring my urge to bare my teeth makes the urge lessen slightly.
So, to recap: Old Yeller is a stupid movie that should never be watched-EVER. Sometimes I act like Old Yeller and need to be shot. My friends and my sister have been compared to rabid dogs. Praying helps me not kill the people I love.
On that note, the rabid wolf of laundry is howling and must be fought off, however lethal the results will be for me. Pretty sure rubber gloves and puncture proof suits are needed before I attack the basket in the boys room.
Snarl. Growl. Snap.
"Travis, get your gun!"