I think we all have those memories from our childhood that are special. The first day of school, first kiss, a new sibling, winning the spelling bee. These events shape who we are and give us a wistful smile as we replay our most innocent days.
Then there’s reality. The things that you go through that take your innocence, stomp it into a greasy spot, spit on it and then point and laugh as your greasy spot is washed away by a river of your tears. Here are some of the events that brought my childhood to a screeching halt.
(And you’ll die alone with 57 cats who hate you.)
#5: You can’t dig to China
From the time I was a toddler, my Irish Setter and I were working on an underground expressway to China. With my trusty teaspoon and her speedy paws, we were on our way. We also carried the same tennis ball in our mouths and drank out of the same water bowl. We were a team! Anyway, China was always my “Plan B”. If I got in too much trouble or the punishment was too great, screw it. I’d move to China. Ha-take that behavior Nazis! But then I caught an “educational” show on PBS between Bob Ross Painting and Seasame Street (this was wayyyy before cable, kiddos). This show told me that there’s more than a few feet of dirt between me and that sweet, sweet freedom. Apparently, there’s thousands of miles of dirt, rock and dinosaur bones. Then you have to cross like 4 layers of fiery hell. Then another few thousand miles of dinosaur bones, rock and dirt. Worst of all, once you get to China, you find out China sucks! They don’t speak English, they don’t celebrate Christmas and they don’t even have french fries! Dammit. Thanks for nothing, China.
(We should’ve stopped to pee at the last Shoney’s.)
#4: Grown ups can be mean to little kids
There are certain things I promised my mom I wouldn’t address in this post so as to not ruin someone else’s childhood and end up on their blog 10 years from now. So I will say, as a child, I learned the hard way that grown ups can be very mean to little children. There were certain truths that I held dear when I was little. One of the many being that when I grew up, I would ride my unicorn to Gargamel’s hovel and kick his ever loving ass for being mean to the Smurfs. Then I would marry Squire Johan and live happily ever after in Smurf Village Adjacent. In 2nd grade, my friends and I were discussing such weighty issues when the mean old librarian came over and laughed at us. “You don’t really believe that crap, do you? Are you really that stupid? There’s no such things as unicorns and Smurfs. You kids are so dumb!” Wha-wha-WHAT?! She said this to an entire class of 7 year old believers and decimated many dreams. I cried the rest of the day. Not only was my fairy tale world destroyed, that grown up yelled at me and called me stupid! Then in 4th grade, my teacher had the nerve to literally punch me in the head for working ahead of the class on multiplication tables. She actually said, “We’re on 4’s, not 7’s. Pay attention!” Dude. Are you kidding me? I know that particular teacher got fired two years later for hitting students but my image that all adults loved cute, blonde children with bows in their hair and stars in their eyes was a lie.
(You only exist because your dad’s condom broke!)
#3: I can die
So this one was a little hard. In 4th grade, the Challenger space shuttle exploded. It was a huge tragedy. I remember it very well. I was so excited that day. The teacher on the shuttle was named Christa, like me. Her husband went to college at VMI with my dad. So I wanted to be a teacher and astronaut, like her. Our teacher (same bitch who punched me in the head) had the t.v. on so we could watch the launch. 5-4-3-2-1……explosion. My class cheered. Look at the fireworks! But our teacher was yelling, “No, no! Oh my God. It exploded. They’re all dead!” I was horrified. My namesake died. If I grew up to be like her, I might die, too. Maybe it was time to re-think being a professional butterfly. Around that time, some elderly relative passed away and I attended the first funeral I could remember. I looked in the casket and I was so afraid. I thought for sure that sleeping old lady was going to jump up and grab me. My grandmother kept saying, “Touch her. It’s ok. She’s dead. Touch her. She’s not getting up.” So, I touched her. It was awful. I asked my grandmother why she died. And she said something like, “Well, we all die. Death is part of life. I’ll die. Your mom will die. Your sister will die. You will die. Nothing you can do about it. We all die.” Holy shit! I can die? Any second, I can just cease to be? One second, playing Cabbage Patch Dolls and the next, sleeping in a box, being poked by 8 year olds, never to open my eyes again? Thanks for that, Grandma. I’ve definitely logged a few hundred hours of therapy over that one.
(I’d much rather be an out of work actor, thank you very much.)
When I was a kid, my understanding of sex was, you kissed, got naked and went to sleep with a man. Then you had a baby. Bada-bing, bada-boom. D-u-n, done. My mother informed me this was not the case. There’s a little more detail involved than that. Using a teddy bear for illustration, she gave me the talk. A half hour later, I realized how ignorant I was. My understanding was now complete. You have to let the guy pee in you for it to be sex and the pee only sometimes makes a baby. Ew! No guy was peeing anywhere near me, so I will stay happily childless, thank you very much. Boys are disgusting. I had also sneaked one of my mom’s bodice ripper novels and read the sex parts for a deeper comprehension of human relations. From that I also learned you also have to let a guy lick you with his tongue instead of kiss sometimes. Who thought up this crap? But the ladies in the book seemed to like it. They’re knees would go weak and they’re hearts would race and they’d feel all tingly. So I was reserving judgment on the dog-like kissing. Anyway, after reading those books, I have to say, my first kiss was a huge disappointment. Sorry Travis….um…Smith. My knees did not go weak. I did not see stars and his tongue lashing truly needed some finesse. Then he said he had to use the bathroom and since I wasn’t ready for children, I had to let that relationship go. It was for the best.
(We’ll always have the jungle gym.)
#1: Barbie’s charmed life
So after my dreams of moving to Smurf Village were dashed, along with my dreams of being an astronaut/teacher and having children, I turned to the best role model any girl ever had. Barbie! What was I thinking before now? This bitch has it all. A dream house, horses, convertible, Jeep, gorgeous clothes, stupid kid sister to kick around, giant boobs. She also had awesome boyfriends in Ken, GI Joe, He-Man and Optimus Prime (at least she did in my house). And she was a rock star and actress. This is what I will be! Or not…this dream was crashed slowly and thoroughly as I went through middle school and high school. According to Barbie’s dream scale painted on the floor of her dream bathroom in her dream house, she weighs a dream 110 pounds. I passed that in 8th grade. By age 16, I did have giant boobs but that was about it. We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, the closest thing we had to a horse was my sister’s idiot boyfriend, I drove a 1969 VW Beetle with the floor boards rotted out, my sister was prettier and more popular than me and my boyfriend was my boyfriend because he knew what was good for him and did what I told him. And I worked part-time as a dj for tens of local listeners. Well, that didn’t work out as planned!
(I call shenanigans on you, bitch!)
But you know what? It’s ok. I do have a nice house now and a nice car. I am an actress. I’m a rock star at karaoke. I’ve had gay boyfriends (Sorry, Ken, but let’s be honest here. It’s ok to be who you are!). I have great shoes and I even have a small pony.
Childhood may have been traumatic in a lot of ways but my life is good. As Mr. Burns’ said, “I’m a wealthy man but I’d give it all away for just a little bit more.”