Thursday, November 09, 2006

Snuff-Film Imagination

When I was very young, I was diagnosed with MBD, or Minimal Brain Disfunction. Basically, this meant that I tended to call out in class, was chronically disorganized, and didn't like to focus on my math homework. When I read books on MBD (which was later changed to ADD and then ADHD), I discovered that the symptoms ranged from hyperactivity to hypoactivity, from excessive intelligence to substandard intelligence. In the late seveties, MBD was a catchall for every student who didn't fit into a standard classroom.

Anyway, the upshot was that my parents didn't want me put on Ritalin, so I had to see a psychiatrist when I was in third grade. They finally found a good, highly recommended one in Georgetown, Dr. Kraft. Within a week or two, I had figured him out. He was a nice guy, but was a little too insecure. He had a problem connecting meaningfully with women, and was very uncomfortable with his own looks. Week after week, I would go to his office in Georgetown, where we would discuss his problems and try to find creative solutions to them. In other words, therapy was a total bust, at least for me.

As time went on, I started getting tired of Dr. Kraft. To be honest, he was just a little too needy. More to the point, it seemed silly to me that my parents were paying $90 a week for me to listen to his problems. Also, I got the feeling that our sessions had become a little too much of a crutch for the good doctor--he needed to move on.

So I found myself with a problem. If I told my parents that I was finished with therapy, they'd never believe me. In fact, when I tried to broach the subject, they decided that my irritation was a definite sign that Dr. Kraft and I were making progress. To get out, I'd need to be a little sneaky. I remember trying to think of ways to escape. After a few weeks, I figured it out.

That night, I drew a picture. It was of a stick figure blowing up. Stick arms, legs, torso, and head were all flying in different directions. I used the better part of a red crayon to give the picture verissimilitude. It wasn't very good, but it was clear enough to make my father choke, and he practically recoiled when I handed it to him.

"What is this?" my father asked.

"A picture," I replied.

"Why did you draw this?" he asked.

Now was the crucial part. The smallest smile on my part could ruin the whole thing. No problem; I'd practiced. Looking at my father with the wide-eyed look that I'd perfected in the mirror, I said "I thought Dr. Kraft wanted me to."

The next week, my last week in therapy, Dr. Kraft told me that I'd see him again, and that I should feel free to call him whenever I needed to talk. I assured him that it would be okay, and he tried to be brave. Apart from a few phone calls, I never heard from him again. My father later told me that Dr. Kraft had offered to see me for free, but they had turned him down.

This strange thing, my snuff-film imagination, only grew over the years, and was always a reliable tool for dealing with bullies and assorted annoyances. In sixth grade, I found numerous ways to get people to leave me alone. One day, a seventh grader was making my life difficult, so I started giving him a funny look. When he asked me what was up, I replied, in a calm, steady voice, "I'm imagining your head exploding." His eyes were latched onto mine as I continued, "it's like a cherry tomato with an M-80 in it."

For some reason, my classmates thought I was weird.

Luckily, I discovered a fair number of fellow horror film fanatics in high school. I realized that, even if I wasn't necessarily normal, I was, at least, relatively healthy. When I got my first job, I used to go down to the record store every week to buy one horror film. I would take it home, watch it, analyze it, and add it to the collection. I have probably seen over a thousand people killed in more ways than I can count, and it has left only mimimal scars on my psyche. It has, however, only fueled my freaky imagination. With very little effort, I can visualize fairly horrifying things. (It's worth noting that I have the same skill with pornography, but that's another post).

Anyhoo, flash forward a few years and a few hundred horror movies, and I find myself raising a little girl. A little girl who now seems to be able to occupy five places at the same time. A little girl who seems to love endangering her little life.

In my imagination, George has turned into a suicidal version of MacGuyver. Give her anything--anything--no matter how small, and I can tell you five ways that she can maim, kill, or mutilate herself with it. A rubber band? Easy--she can choke on it, cut off her circulation, get it caught in her nose, flick her eye out, use it to piss off the cat (who will surely respond with claws bared), strangle herself with it, or use it to shoot deadly missiles into her brain.

A piece of tinfoil? Don't get me started; in my overactive imagination, she's already fashioned an aluminum dagger that she's jammed into her eye, her ear, her nose, or her heart. This is, I should point out, after she's swallowed part of it, and sliced up her tender little internal organs.

And so it goes with lockblocks, Tickle-Me-Elmo toys, baby spoons, plastic key toys, stuffed animals, and drums. I realize that the talking caterpillar won't kill her, but I am constantly tempted to put it in the blender. Of course Crayolas are non-toxic, but still...

The other morning, I woke up convinced that my daughter was in the kitchen, where she'd found the knife blocks (which, incidentally, are a very safe distance beyond her reach), and was doing terrible things. I knew it was just my imagination, but I still checked in on her. Just in case.

I realize, of course, that this is all a little ridiculous. On the other hand, I also feel like it's some sort of cosmic retribution for the fact that I allowed my imagination such free rein for so long. Now that I have something to really worry about, I'm unable to turn the damn thing off.

I'd like to write more, but I gotta run. It's been quiet for a while, and I think she might have just gotten into the Q-tips. 1001 uses, and at least 327 of them could, conceivably, leave her maimed for life.

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  • Crankster, this is Crackpot.

    I was once tested for something at the age of four and some "scientist-type" people put some electrodes on my head and asked me questions about Sesame Street or whatever.

    Nothing was wrong with me. Just fucking weird, that's all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 9, 2006 at 2:30 PM  

  • The cherry tomato line is brilliant. Has to be delivered just right.

    Requesting permission to use this line to get out of bad dates. Will site you, of course.

    By Blogger mist1, At November 9, 2006 at 2:36 PM  

  • Crackpot,

    I am sorry to say that in my Robutussin funk last night I suspected you of being the anonymous sociologist on my Web site. But I just received an email saying that they would share the analysis of the "experiment" with me soon. I can't wait.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 9, 2006 at 2:52 PM  

  • Matt the first-
    Had the same one. Sticky things, strobe lights, that sort of thing?

    Go right ahead. Sharing is caring.

    Matt the second-
    You thought that was me? Weird.

    Sociology is the one useless major that I didn't take. I got History, Poli Sci, and English.

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 9, 2006 at 3:07 PM  

  • Ah, the joys of adding neurosis to our children...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 9, 2006 at 3:28 PM  

  • Wonderful story. How is it you didn't become a shrink since you'd already undergone much of the training?

    I'm afraid you've discovered the soft underbelly of parenthood: The world can strike at you through your children, and you never stop worrying about them. After they grow up and stop checking in every night, it gets worse.

    Ones own imagination is a fierce weapon, right up there with aluminum foil daggers.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, At November 9, 2006 at 5:47 PM  

  • The next 20 years are going to be fun for you, I can tell. ;-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 9, 2006 at 6:14 PM  

  • Olives-
    I know! Of course, I'm not going to screw up my daughter like my parents screwed me up.

    I will find far more impressive and imaginative ways.

    As weird as this sounds, I'm not crazy enough to be a shrink. The mysteries of the psyche just don't seem mysterious enough to me.

    Don't mock the foil dagger. It could happen!

    Okay, it probably couldn't.

    I'm not sure I'm going to survive. My imagination's going to get me.

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 9, 2006 at 6:20 PM  

  • hahaha!! I learned quickly to not watch those parents would allow me to sit and watch, then I couldn't sleep, thinking that Dracula would come out of the closet, or another monster would form from the shadows...even if I knew it had been only a movie!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 9, 2006 at 7:11 PM  

  • Hearts,
    He's far too self-actualized and intelligent to become a shrink.

    By Blogger misanthropster, At November 9, 2006 at 9:37 PM  

  • I knew I could relate to you. It's a well know fact that explosives are the way to deal with 'others' that don't understand you. I considered dancing over to your neighbors in my pink camo and dropping off a package just before the elections, but unfortunately, I was distracted. Keep 'em coming. Helps keep me calm. Better than ritalin.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 9, 2006 at 9:53 PM  

  • well, now, you just went and explained the whole Iraq war thing to me.

    Thanks. I was feeling a little confused about that.

    By Blogger misanthropster, At November 9, 2006 at 10:08 PM  

  • Claudia-
    Having horrible nightmares and being unable to fall asleep was half the fun.

    Come to think of it, maybe seeing all those horror films wasn't such a good idea!

    I have a friend who works in Mexico. She already has a list of things that she wants done when she finally gets her jack-booted death squad. I'll ask her if she's willing to loan them out.

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 9, 2006 at 10:58 PM  

  • Quote for some reason my classmates thought I was weird unquote. Oh.

    By Blogger Pawlie Kokonuts, At November 10, 2006 at 12:02 AM  

  • While I was not fortunate enough to be allowed to watch many scary movies growing up, I do agree that half (if not most) of the fun was the horrible nightmares. I still love the feeling of waking up and nearly jumping out of bed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 10, 2006 at 12:36 AM  

  • Misanthropster, I always knew you were one of the most reasonable people around. I just didn't know how to appropriately communicate with you. I do feel so much better now. And thank you for your continued support.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 10, 2006 at 12:57 AM  

  • Yes the joy of being a parent. I also visited a child psychologist once a week for about 1 year. My parents thought it would be for the best. To be quick about it, I had a thing for fire. Or maybe I should say I was a fire bug. Playing with matches in the back seat of the family car. I manged to set the family car ablaze. I also went through what I like to call my Dr.Mengele phase. We had this huge freezer. So I decided to do some experiments with our house cat. My mother kept hearing the cat meowing. She traked it down to the freezer, and opened it to find JC stuck to the green beans. Once again it was a** whuppin time. I had many adventures, and these were just 2 of them. I remember the curse my mother placed on me. She wished that I would grow up and have a child just like yours truly. Needless to say I watch over my 3 children like a hawk.

    By Blogger The Naked Nerd, At November 10, 2006 at 1:23 AM  

  • LOL...Poor lil George....I just hope she doesn't pick up your vibes...or the poor lil thing may fashion a Q tip weapon and come after you!!! Aarrgghhhh!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 10, 2006 at 9:06 AM  

  • Ive got two girls two and three with death wishes also, they are would be kamakasi artists. If you thought one was bad enough try mulitplying it , its like watching raquet ball using dangerous objects!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 10, 2006 at 9:44 AM  

  • Pawlie-
    Do I detect a note of sarcasm?

    Yeah, there's nothing that makes you feel alive like that sense of total terror. Which is why I scared my sisters with a huge chef's knife after they watched Psycho.

    I'm a good brother like that.

    I never put the cats in the freezer, although I did put scotch tape on their feet. It was fun watching them slide around.

    I always considered myself quite the pyromaniac, but I never set fire to the car. You shame me.

    I have no doubt that my little girl will uncover all my fears and use them against me. Just like I did when I was a kid. Evil is hereditary, I think.

    I'm starting to understand what it must have been like for my parents, who had four kids. Of course, I'm overcome with guilt.

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 10, 2006 at 11:51 AM  

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