After sanding woodwork all day, a person deserves to curl up in bed with a diet cream soda and a good book. That may not be everyone's version of a big time, but it's mine.

So why, instead, do I end up sitting in a movie theater listening to people in a spaceship being eaten by a creature whose claim to fame is slobbering teeth? Listening, but not seeing because my glasses are in my lap.

Why am I there? Because "Alien" is rated R (for Repulsive, not Raunchy), which means that a kid who wants to see it has to con some parent into not only going to the theater, but paying admission and sitting there.

Favorite con lines for getting parent to R-rated movie begin at breakfast.

"It amazes me that you let the rating code dicate to yout what your children are going to see . . . "

And continue at lunch.

"I would think you'd get some satisfaction from the fact that your kids are too-adjusted to get freaked out by some movie . . . ." And go on through dinner.

"Every kid I know has already seen it, but not me, oh no . . . My mother only lets me go to Walt Disney movies . . . ."

"That is unfair and absurd. Didn't I drop you boys off at 'Jaws'?"

Mistake. Now that they have hooked me into a discussion, it can only end in my climbing into the pickup truck and bouncing into town to blow nine bucks. It is Sunday and the real car is out of gas.

By the time I think to suggest to my husband that he bounce into town with Tom and Nick, he has already turned on the stereo, whipped out the first side of "Aida," and started to paint the living-room ceiling.

"I though you were going to do that in the morning."

"My brush is already wet. By the time I'd clean it, uh. . . ."

For a man who ambles through life in slow motion, he can outpace the Hulk in a real emergency. There is half a stuffed pepper still warm on his plate, but he has painted 20 strokes and Ammeris is already singing insults at Aida.

Plan A is that I go into the theater, sit down, sneak out during the credits, and spend the next two hours sitting on the floor of the ladies' room finishing "Chesapeake."

Plan B is that I stay in the theater with my glasses off and my lap full of fear food. This is a box each of Spearmint Leaves, Strawberry Twizzlers and lemon drops, and dates back to my own childhood, when nothing was rated R but you could still get you bobby-sox scared off.

By the time hair started to sprout on Dr. Jekyll's face, I would already be bordering on hyperglycemia. In "Murders of the Rue Morgue," the last thing I remember is a lady victim's arm swinging down out of a fireplace flue, at which time I clapped my sticky fingers over my 3-D glasses, rendering them useless, which was just as well.

It turns out to be Plan B. There I sit, blind and bloated.

"Tom," I whisper, as a slaverling roar fills the theater, "what does it look like?"

"Pretty bad, Mom. You better keep your glasses off. It's really gorss."

I turn to Nick. "Do you want to go home, honey? It's stupid to sit here if you're scared to death. I won't tell anybody."

"Mom, will you please be quiet ? People are looking . I don't want to go home. I don't want to go home. it's cool."

Each time the Allen has finished someone off, I put my glassed back on, figuring I've got about 10 minutes before the next even. So I know a few things about the movie. I remember that the heroine had very sweaty hair, for one thing. But, I managed to avoid successfully every appearance of the Alien, from its eggdom on.

Finally it was over, and the boys led me, still clutching my candy boxes, out into the cool, fragrant air of the parking lot.

"I expect," I said as we bounced back home, "incredible gratitude for this."

"Thanks a lot, Mom," said Nick. "It isn't every mother who would do what you did."

"Would you expect me to let the rating code dictate what I let may children see?"

"Hey, I really mean it. Thanks a lot."

"You're welcome."

"I want to ask you something, only I'm afrraid you'll get mad."*t"Out with it."

"Could you take us to 'Dawn of the Dead'?"

My reply is rated R.

Free-lancer Susan Kepner's favorite movie is "Meet Me in St. Louis."