When I was a child, I believed many silly things . . .
I believed that my clothes flew around my room at night after I went to sleep. The closet in my room did not have a door on it, and I was certain that those clothes just waited all day for the chance to fly around my room at night. And those clothes were not benign: sure, they’d start out playfully, until they would wrap themselves around my head, causing me to suffer a long, painful, drawn-out death by suffocation. Is this why to this day I still do not hang my clothes up properly in my closet? That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.
I believed that it was wrong for the Mormon Church to not have nuns, seeing as how nuns could fly (a la Sally Field in The Flying Nun) and marry handsome Captains and live in a mansion and not need to be nuns anymore (a la Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music). I just knew that with the right “head wings” and wind that I, too, could fly over the city, never mind the fact that I am afraid of heights. And at five years of age, even I realized that Christopher Plummer was very yummy, and hey, who wouldn’t want to hike through the Alps, singing and dancing, then come home to a wonderful mansion and have a kick-ass puppet show?
Now I know better: If I could fly, that would be just one more trip for the mommy-taxi. And that mansion? Do you know how many tiles there would be that required cleaning and waxing? No thanks!
I believed that there was a monster that lived under my bed, who ate little girls who knelt by the bed to say their prayers. How did I know this? Because my older brother told me so, and older brothers never lie to their little sisters, right? Right? One night mom sent him up to make sure I was in bed and listen to my prayers. This is the brother who painted a picture of a demon monster and hung it over his bed so I would see it when I opened his door and be scared. This is the brother who convinced me to put my eye at the narrow end of a firehose nozzle to watch the firecracker at the bottom of the nozzle explode.
The same brother who hung me by my ankle out a third-storey window to ensure my silence on some transgression, now forgotten. THAT brother. He kindly tucked me in, making sure my covers were just so, and then said, “Stay in bed; I’ll kneel for you while you say your prayers.” Sweet deal, right? Wrong. While I’m praying for the Lord to keep my soul that night, this brother was slowly disappearing under my bed, thumping around and yelling, “Don’t get out of bed! They’ll get you, too.” He was good—he even did all the grunts and sound effects of both the eaters and the eatee—and then he was gone. I lay there, terrified that if even one little piggy toe hung over the edge, it’d become a bed-monster appetizer.
I wanted to look, but then, what might I see? A tuft of hair that used to be my brother? Maybe some bone, sinew, one lone tooth? No way was I going to move, maybe accidentally fall out of bed and become dessert. Imagine my surprise the next morning when I saw him at the breakfast table, intact. As an adult, I can appreciate the patience he had to remain under the bed until I fell asleep. But these many years later I still have not forgotten the oilslick of fear I felt that night, and so I sleep on a waterbed, under which no monsters can hide. And I don’t kneel by my bed either. You just never know.