Childhood: The start of a journey where everything goes right or wrong and determines the trajectory of the rest of your mortal life. This is how I feel sometimes. I mean, there was the time when I was four, hanging out with my brother and his friend, that my bro's friend decided to get rid of me by handing me a Hustler mag and told me to go show it to my mom. I did, but after looking through it perplexed, finding a layout of a woman that looked like my mother, then going to my mother and saying, "Mommy, this lady looks like you." I got my hide tanned after that (Yes, I got physically whooped by my parents--it was all the rage back then). Talk about the Freudian ramifications of that event, sheesh!
Then there was this other time where my brother, fourteen at the time, stole my dad's Cadillac, and I was stupid enough to go along with him. My brother was the type of teenager that would babysit us kids loaded, throw grapefruits through cop's windshields, or if bored start fires. He's totally changed, since.
Continuing with our story, So here I am, four years old, and riding around with my 13 year old brother in a "stolen" Caddy (if you knew my dad then you'd know that if you took anything of his, even if you were family, you were a thief). So, my brother decides that driving through orange groves and doing donuts in vacant lots would be fun babysitting activities. It was fun, until we ran out of gas in a vacant lot, just off of Central Avenue in Phoenix.
My brother used his best judgment and left me in the car all by myself and then went home, got ripped, then forgot about me and the car. It wasn't until my mom came home and started wondering where the car was (my dad was on a business trip) that my brother remembered what had happened. No one wondered where I was. So, the bro runs back five hours later to the lot and finds me singing songs from the Muppet Movie to myself in the car. See, I was having a good time after all.
Changing gears now, these experiences ultimately led to some serious problems in my life. First, I have no idea just exactly what that "incident" with the mag and the spanking did to me, but there's no way around that sucker--I'm sure it screwed me up some. Second, Fozzy the Bear still appears to me in times of crisis. Very troubling stuff here. However, fears can be overcome, somewhat. I have had phobias of fish for a long time and I can't figure out where this one started. I'd literally go into shit tizzies if I had to touch a fish. Now, I am an avid fisherman, who secretly hopes not to catch fish. It has been my way of confronting fear. I still throw shit tizzies when I have to touch fish; I just do it quietly, now. So, what about Sammy Davis Jr.?
Back in the old neighborhood in Phoenix, there was a kid named Dougie. Dougie had an underdeveloped eye the size of a pea, but had a regular sized eye socket. He had a special glass eye to put in his socket. Dougie wanted friends. Dougie thought that I'd make a good friend. This is Dougie's way of making friends: chase you down and pin you, take out his glass eye and spread his eyelids out so you can see the "pea". He'd also rub the glass eye on your face, chase you around with it out, and other fun stuff. You'd think that this would be enough, but no, there's one more character to this story: Danny.
Danny lost his eye in an accident and had to get a glass eye. Danny was in my first grade class. Danny liked to torment me with his glass eye. First of all, he never washed the damn thing, so it looked like he had greasy oatmeal caked on it. Plus, Danny liked to stick tissues on his eyeball. They'd just hang there...ewwwww!
So, what were the consequences of being exposed to these guys and their glass eyes? Well, first off, I would sometimes work myself into a panic thinking that one of my eyeballs was going to fall out. I even used to feel like something would take over me, like the devil, and make me poke my eyes out. I know this sounds pretty silly, but we are talking about phobia here, and phobias are by definition irrational.
So here I am, a kid, watching something with Jerry Lewis on the TV, then who else joins him on stage but Sammy Davis Jr. It was at that point that I noticed that one eye didn't track with the other eye: it was just sitting there. I felt instant panic starting from my heart and throughout my spine. My whole body tensed up, and I ran away into my room, hiding in the closet. Then it's "Wakka wakka!", Fozzy Bear dancing and singing right in front of my eyes until the pain goes away. It's the same deal with that Sandy Duncan lady. Damn Wheat Thins commercials scared the shitola right out of me. I've had some suspicions on Forest Whitaker, but me thinks he's just deformed.
So, how am I now? I got over the eyeball phobia when I was around twelve. It's scary how childhood trauma or even seemingly benign events can alter the personality. It shapes us, makes us who we are. We can go to therapy and try to desensitize, erase, and think rationally about our fears. I think that I've at least got the eyeball one under control. But one thing, just in case: I better be close to a "safe" closet if I happen to hear "I gotta be me" again. Wakka wakka!
4 years ago