Saturday, October 26, 2013

FYI: It's called "Coulrophobia"

Halloween is just around the corner.


For you.

'Tis the season of terror, so what better time to talk about things that terrified us as kids?

When I was a kid, I was a bit of a neurotic.  I went though a period where I had some obsessive-compulsive tendencies.  Those of you who know me personally are probably thinking, "Went?  Past-tense?"  If I wasn't so afraid of getting your face germs on my hands, I'd slap you for saying that.

Anyhoo, along with my mild o.c., I was also terrified that someone was waiting in the shower.  Not a family member or anything.  That thought wouldn't terrify me until I was a teenager.  No, I was scared there was a stranger in the bathroom, hiding behind the shower curtain.


For me.

This, coupled with my o.c., meant that I would sometimes check behind the shower curtain every single time I went in or by the bathroom.  I'm not sure where this fear came from.  Probably the movies.  To this day, the scariest scenes for me are the ones where someone's alone in the bathroom looking in the bathroom mirror.  They open up the medicine cabinet to get something and when they close it, there's someone behind them.

I was going to put a movie clip here, but I searched for "scary bathroom mirror scene" on Youtube and then chickened out.  You're welcome.

Everything seemed more potent when I was a kid.  Funny things were funnier.  Exciting things were excitinger.  And scary things were petrifying.  Maybe that's because you don't have as much life experience as a kid.  Adult baggage tends to be heavy.  By the time you have a couple of decades' worth of travel under your belt, your bags are crammed full of the memories.  Some of them are warm and fuzzy.  Some are depressing.  And some are downright frightening.  So, as an adult, when you're minding your own business and you run into a man in a clown suit outside a crowded party supply store in the outlet mall, it startles you.

But he's no Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah, clowns are terrifying.

The point is, if you're a kid this Halloween, enjoy the fact that the only bags you have to carry around are full of candy.


Sunday, October 20, 2013


Happy Sunday!

Of course, for India and the cavalcade of charismatic characters, it's still Saturday.  Somewhere around the 4:00 hour, I should think, though no one's really keeping track.  It's a bit strange how days where little or nothing happens can feel slower than an elevator ride with an obese, flatulent Schnauzer.  But days that are chock-a-block full fly by.  Like an elevator ride with a supermodel.  I have no idea what time would feel like in an elevator with an obese, flatulent supermodel.

While India's parents, Fred and Elizabeth, are home cogitating on how to cheer up India, India's wandering the neighborhood and running into unexpected things and people:

Last week I talked briefly about how being a kid can be like watching a TV show because your parents take care of just about everything.  When you're a kid, what you don't know can fill up an entire world.  And, in point of fact, it DOES.  That can be frustrating and awful.  But sometimes it can also be wonderful.  Because you don't know how the sausage is made (and don't even know enough to ask), magic exists.  And that magic creates wonder and excitement and curiosity.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."  -Arthur C. Clarke

What magic did you believe in when you were a kid?  (Go ahead, write in.  I'd love to hear your stories.)

One Christmas when I was a little kid, my parents woke up before me and put the presents out.  They realized too late they had forgotten to wrap one of my presents.  So, in a brilliant example of quick thinking, they tossed the present into the snowbank outside just before I came into the room.  I noticed it immediately and asked about it.

"Oh," they said, non-nonchalantly, "Santa must have dropped that.  If he doesn't come back for it, I guess you can keep it."

Suffice it to say, I believed in Santa from that point on until early last week.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

So, Eeyore, Bootsy Collins and Charles Bronson walk into your childhood...

Good morrow, gentlefolk!

Verily we have arrived at page 24 of "Saturday" the book.

It just so happens to be Saturday afternoon in the world of India McGreevy and her parents.  The Saturday after a long, grinding week.  And while India is outside inadvertently stumbling into some odd situations, her parents Fred and Elizabeth are inside, trying to figure out how to help India out of her funk (the Eeyore kind, not the Bootsy Collins kind):

Being a kid can feel pretty lonely at times.  There's a theory that, behind the wholesome jokes and foibles of "Peanuts", the comic is often a commentary on the alienation of childhood (which is possibly why all the grownups sound like a trumpet when they speak).  When you're a kid, it can feel like no one is listening and no one understands.  Adults might as well be from another planet because they're so much older they can't possibly understand what it's like to be a kid.

This turns out to be untrue.  Usually, they know, even if it's been a while since your parents' days of failed football kicking and amateur Psychiatry (Also, spoiler alert, adults aren't immune to those feelings of loneliness and alienation, they just have to put up with it and keep going).  But your parents?  They're sharper than you give them credit for.  And they know when you're feeling down.  They may not always know how, but trust me: They're trying to figure out how to get you from Eeyore to Bootsy, quick, fast, and in a hurry.

I think one of the amazing things about being a kid is that you often don't see how much work it takes to do things.  Whether it's getting dinner on the table, keeping the house clean, paying the bills or figuring out how to cheer you up, your parents are like a couple of MacGyvers, constantly improvising and trouble shooting and using what they have to get things done.  As a kid, you're more like an audience member, so you can just enjoy the show.

Who put it better than Charles Bronson in "The Magnificent Seven"?  Nobody:

"Don’t you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun; well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there’s nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery."

This goes for Mothers, too.  So the moral is: Your parents understand you better than you think they do.  Even if you're a bit strange.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Piranhas: They'll totally eat you. I'm just saying.

Greetings, Friends!

It's time for our weekly fireside chat about the exploits India McGreevy!  For those of you just joining us, I'll give you a brief overview: India is a creative little girl who's had a rotten week at school.  It's now Saturday in India's world and she finds herself out of ideas, out of energy, and (thanks to her parents), out of the house.

Unfortunately, going outside can land you in unpredictable and unseemly places (that's one of the reasons I make it a point NEVER to go out there myself). Fortunately, if you find yourself stuck in the awful out of doors, there are sympathetic ears to be lent:

I'm pretty sure the moment you leave the comfort and security of your home, you find yourself in one of two situations: Either A.) You're immediately descended upon by a group of ravenous piranhas and devoured so quickly that only a surprised looking skeleton is left standing momentarily before collapsing into a pile of bones that sound like a xylophone when they fall down or, B.) You find yourself in a dark cave, holding on to a terrier named Porkchop while you both watch a large pot of vinegar and baking soda bubble up and boil over:

If you're looking for the former scenario, you'll have to wait for the release of "Saturday: The Director's Cut".

If some of these panels seem like non-sequiturs, I can promise you two things: 1.) No matter how strange it seems now, they'll all make sense in the context of the story and 2.) you ain't seen nothin yet.

Buh-buh-buh baby, you just ain't seen nothin' yet.

So, until our next fireside chat, remember: You have nothing to fear but 1.) Fear itself, 2.) Piranhas, and 3.) Cliched references to Bachman Turner Overdrive.