Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Childhood Fears: Or why Sammy Davis Jr. scares the hell out of me.

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!


vera said...

Brilliant read!

Crikey, I *hate* fish! Hate them. Did I mention hate? I can't handle watching them, although eating them serves me quite well. Cartoon fish - I'm quite alright with these.

There's this restaurant that has this giant fish tank in the center of the room. Therein lives this monolith silver-scaled fish suffering from a severe underbite that swims in a slow circle around and around in the murky water. Always ask "Please, nowhere near the fish tank" There's just something to be said for animals that swim around in their own expulsions... Hmmm :\ *crosses "swimming @ the lake" off of her summer to-do list*


verification word: mdpdv

"Mdpdv!!" she spewed as her head surfaced from the murky fish tank.

mona said...

I like you like fishing but always hope I'll never catch one

West of the Sun said...

Nicely done.

a) you used the term "shit tizzies". That cracked me up for whatever reason.

b) you knew TWO KIDS who had GLASS EYES?! That's f-ed up.

c) I love Fozzy.

The Grunt said...

Thanks for all your comments. I know that I kidded around about this stuff, but the eyeball fear was very real to me as a kid. I had got pretty comfortable with handling fish recently, then while unhooking one, the fish made a strange noise (Mdpdv!) that freaked the hell out of me. Now, I'm back to having shit tizzies.

Welcome to my blog, Mona. I've seen you around other blogs.

DaBugg said...

When you publish your first hardback, can I get an autographed copy? Superb read.
Grunt I as well have an eye thingamajig. It started when I was about 10 and my neighbor had a car accident which resulted in the loss of an eye. That eye was replaced with a glass eye. I never looked at that woman again. All I looked at was “the eye”. When I was 18 I worked as a Nurses Aide in home care. I showed up at this woman’s home in this uppity neighborhood and the daughter greeted me with “do what ever “Ma Ma” says.”
I go into Ma Ma’s room and here is an old lady with a black patch over her eye. It was a night of wipe my nose, get me this, get me that. And then…she asked me to put her eye in. Sweat poured over my face and I got a faint feeling. I told her I didn’t know how and she said “just get it and pop it in”. I did it and I will never, ever, be the same.

Crystal said...

hey meatbag, what an awesome post. i laughed a loud laugh - kinda sick when you are spilling your guts about childhood trauma and i can't stop laughing - this is why i'd be a terrible therapist. my best friend got run over by a car when she was 5 and everytime we meet someone new i make her tell the story and i laugh the whole time.
i am also impressed with "shit tizzies". meatbag and shit tizzies in the same week. what are you doing to me, grunt?!

The Grunt said...

I'm glad I could help, Crystal. I've got plenty where those came from. I did invent a new swear word once, "Ahfak!". Now, it's your responsibility to tell people about the shit tizzy after referring to them as meatbags.

Dabugg, it's a deal. Also, that story just made that dormant eye phobia surface, just a little.

Scott said...

Excellent post... I can't imagine showing my Mother a Hustler and saying that the lady looked like her. Larry Flynt would be proud to see this post.


The Grunt said...

I want to clear one thing up: I was so innocent that I thought that my mom would like to see this pretty lady in this neat magazine. It was neat because it had lots of pictures in it. I had no idea leading up to that what a porno mag was.

vera said...

(btw, read that story last night... re: ahhhfak!) HAHA. sorry, i don't mean to laugh... wait... now im just pointing and that looks ridiculous...

verification word: owajliu
"Owajliu that for????"

Crystal said...

if i had gone through the birthing process and had somebody come up to me telling me i looked like a centerfold, the last thing i would do is punish them for it.

i'd probably let them eat ice cream every meal and up their allowance by 50 bucks.

but that's just me...

Güggs said...

Big brothers are so much fun, aren't they? I should know. I am one. On behalf of big brothers everywhere, we apologise for all the pain we have caused.

maura said...

Ugh! I'd be afraid of glass eyes too...

I was terrified of being kidnapped as a child. I think it had something to to with watching Dennis the Menace.

The Grunt said...

Guggenflurgen, the tables have turned on my big brother and I, because he's old and fat now, and I'm still young and spry. I have to admit though, I would have loved to pick on a younger brother.

Maura, that Dennis the Menace movie cracks me up, but I can see how watching that when your a kid could terrify you.

Crystal, will you be my mommy? I know that sounds goofy, but I could use the money and the ice cream.

logo said...

Do you drive a Studabaker?

The Grunt said...

No I don't own one yet, logo. But, I do dig their Avantis and Starliners. That Avanti in GATTACA is lovely.

The Grunt said...

Oh yes, I almost forgot. Fozzy drives me around in his Studabaker, once in a while.

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