First, an update:
The vanishing shoes of the Ooh, Scary Boys and Girls post have been found. They were under my bed. Their movement remains unexplained, for reasons previously mentioned: I left them at the foot of my bed, blocked by my grandfather’s steamer trunk, so no easy path to their destination; and no probable cause to blame the animals.
In the week or so they were missing, my feet stopped hurting so much [not entirely, but less] so I attribute that to the lack of the slides, so I’ve kind of given up on them. If it was, in fact, the message of some ethereal podiatrist, mission accomplished!
Spooked! Episode Twoooooo…
When last we met, I was talking about my mom and how she let me read way out of my league for as long as I could remember and how that drove the sixth grade nuns at St. Pauls School crazy and helped form my personal creepiosity. This was very true, whether I had a copy of The Exorcist under my arm, or Hamlet. She drew the line at The Godfather, mostly I think, because she had a very long waiting list of friends and relatives waiting for it.
She would also do things like, when the phone rang, say, “pick that up, it’s your grandmother,” and be right most of the time.
Now my dad was the driver of the two [my mom only threatened to learn after he died in 2003], so it was incumbent on him to do the shopping and whatever shuttling of children to events was required. This was back in the day before helicopter parenting, and we lived reasonably close to our local branch of the library [five blocks], schools [three blocks] and playgrounds [two blocks, then across the street]. We walked by ourselves a lot, to not be too much of a pain in the ass to him.
When I was a kid, you used to be able to get encyclopedia sets volume by volume when you spent a certain amount at the supermarket. Thanks to my dad, we had a full set of Funk and Wagnalls, also a lot of adventure books—Swiss Family Robinson, being the one I remember best, because who doesn’t want to ride and race ostriches? If those weren’t enough for homework, he’d dutifully take us down to the main branch of the Scranton Public Library that has a whole floor of reference. The Nancy K. Holmes Branch was our everyday library, because it was close to school
Dad was seriously bipolar and untreated for most of his life, so when I say I had a love/hate relationship with him, I mean that literally. He was the sweetest man alive and I loved him, but his mood turned on a dime—especially where home improvement projects and power tools were involved, which was frequently. My brother disappeared into his attic room to the solace of music and [much to my surprise] weed; my sister disappeared with her friends “from the wrong side of the tracks;” and I hid in my room and read or wrote.
My siblings’ contribution was two-fold. Together, they enjoyed pranking me, and I enjoyed returning the favor. There was always a chance for two against one with three kids in the house. Then my brother added comic books to the mix [Marvel, thanks for asking]: Fantastic Four; Spider-Man, and [cue the choir invisible] Doctor Strange.
That led, naturally, the basement of the Scranton Public Library where the most interesting Occult books were kept.
Maybe I was reading ahead, but I was reading The Exorcist and Doctor Strange, plus Colin Wilson’s The Occult during those same formative years that they were trying to pound Jesus into my head and obedience to an infallible Pope [when every child knows no one is infallible] just made me hedge all of my bets pending further research.
I mean, seriously: flights of angels singing you to sleep, or the ability to shoot Kirby Krackle at your enemies from your fingertips, whatever the cost to your immortal soul? Kirby Krackle. Ka-woomf! Zzzzztt!
It’s all an amazing tapestry, the way we become ourselves. All the things that have to happen, pieces of personality that have to slide into place. All the shit that has to roll downhill, as it were.
When I was six or so, my grandmother on my father’s side [known only as Baba to us] died. Then one of my mother’s cousins died tragically young. I spent a good bit of time in what were then, and still are among us old folks, known as “corpse houses” and cemeteries. Moreso the cemeteries, because there were a lot of visits to the grave sites [at least my grandmother’s] for flowers and maintenance and such. I think that’s probably when I became a taphophile, but more about that next time…