I recently posted a story about screwing up an elementary school relationship with a girl I L*O*V*E*D. I snitched her off to the teacher by exposing her plagiarism of an old Little Lulu comic book.
I still have some old Little Lulu comics. Going through some of those few coverless but nostalgic issues reading the funny stories of Lulu's gang made me wonder how we ever survive childhood. Not only are we at the total mercy of our parents, but of our own fears and lack of worldly knowledge. Being 60 isn't that bad if you're able to put life in perspective. Mainly it's all fucked up and there's nothing you can do about it.
In a 1954 issue I found this story featuring my favorite character, Tubby. Tubby was me as a kid. I was the fat kid in the classroom, the one who made the smartass remarks to the teacher, the one who aced the spelling tests but boloed the arithmetic (still can't get long division, thank goodness for calculators), and the one with the wild imagination. My brain was fueled by TV, movies and comics. They made me want to exist in a world that didn't really exist except in my own head.
At night I got delicious thrills lying in bed thinking of all of the things that could suddenly come out of the closet or from under the bed and attack me. There were ghosts and headless horsemen and Godzilla lurking, just waiting to scare the shit out of me. I still have the insomnia I had as a kid, still wake up way too early; in those childhood fantasies of mine I could make out shapes in the pre-dawn darkness. I could see faces in the wood grain on the door, I could see objects floating through the air near my bed. My way of coping with all of this was to throw the covers over my head and shiver until I went back to sleep. If I could sleep at all, that is.
I'm sure my mom and dad just thought it was growing pains. Unlike Tubby in the story I didn't try to convince anyone that these specters and phantasms were real. Or as real as my brain could make them, that is. I knew they were part of that special place in me that made me an odd kid. I'm still odd, but nowadays I don't see things floating through the air.
From ghosties and ghoulies
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord preserve us!