Let me just state for the record I have no desire to be a child again.
Elementary school, despite the fact that I was a publishing mogul, was awkward, high school gave me an ulcer (yes, really) and though college was fun and revelatory, I literally jumped for joy and threw my cap up prematurely when they called my name for my diploma.
I'm more than happy to be considered an adult by the US government, with all the privileges and rights pertaining thereto. There are days I look at my poor bedraggled PhD husband slogging away on "short" 30-page papers on post-war Japanese puppet theatre and I literally get giddy that I'll never have to do homework again. (Although, post-war Japanese puppet theatre is actually kind of cool.)
However, left to my own devices, as us legal adults often are, I've recently come to realize that there are some childhood things -- habits, comforts, fears -- that try as I might I will never grow out of, and I don't really want to.
We all have these things, right? The stuffed animals you've had forever and that will have to be pried from your cold, dead, hands. The quietly harbored belief that by posing and playing out scenarios in the mirror (sometimes while being British???), there is still a glimmer of a hope that you will be the world's first super model-astronaut-marine biologist. Or at least play one on TV.
The RESPECT you have for the spooky porcelain doll, that now resides in your parent's garage, because a certain older relative told you that it was known as the Killing Doll, and that at night it would go searching for victims and that's why its mouth was always so red. That's why it STAYS IN ITS BOX.
These are the holdovers that in many ways reveal why we are who we are, and I love it.
At 2 am, when I'm half asleep and puttering around my apartment -- with all the lights on to keep the monsters at bay, or practicing my best look of surprise when he president tells me I'm the earth's last hope for the Space Whales -- I am my most authentic self.
Totally unencumbered by the restraints of maturity, I get to revel in the quirks and unabashed silliness of who I really am.
Even when I'm POSITIVE Ronald Defeo is hiding in my closet waiting to get me ("Amityville Horror," how can you not know that? Google it now!), there is still a sense of play to it all. It's completely devoid of adult responsibility, just me and my imagination running amok.
So I'd like to share with you some of the things I'm still holding onto from childhood. Some of my nearest and dearest friends don't even know I still do some of this shit, so consider yourself being allowed access to The Vault.
I still kiss my stuffed pony, Molly, goodnight every night.
Molly has been with me since I had Chicken Pox for the first time (you read that right).
We've been through illness, lice, moves, fleas, separation anxiety -- she's one tough pony.
Molly is the sole survivor of my "You're a Little Too Old For This" obsession that my stuffed animals were sentient.
Before I finally climb in bed for the night, I kiss Molly goodnight. If she looks uncomfortable and her legs are tossed all willy-nilly, I make sure to arrange her "comfortably" on her side.
Maybe it's compulsion, maybe it's a little nutty-bananas, but that gnarly little brown pony is like a trigger for calm to me.
I practice singing my favorite songs like I'm preparing for my big concert.
In case you're new, I'm not a rock star.
However, there's a minuscule part of me that believes that if the right big shot producer overhears me soulfully singing "Crimson and Clover" from my Honda Civic (windows up is for wimps!), then I'll suddenly have my own "MTV Unplugged (do they still do those?).
Since high school, nothing soothes me like driving around for hours, perfecting the renditions of my chart topping cover songs. In elementary school, my friends Becca, Venus and I formed a girl band called, "Dancing in the Street" in which we performed Tiffany and Debbie Gibson covers. I do a WICKED running man.
You should seriously try it. Playing that you are THE SHIT and ooze nothing but confidence, is a great way to teach yourself to ACTUALLY ooze confidence.
I catch myself playing characters in public (and I don't mean Comic-Con).
My mom likes to tell this story about how once when I was about 11, a 20-something year old handyman who was painting a wall in a hotel we were staying in, started checking me out. I was often mistaken for 16 or 17 when I was that age as I was really tall and had tiny, but noticeable boobs.
No sooner had he clamped eyes on me, when she CLAIMS that I challenged my cousin Natasha to see who could trot more like a horse. We commenced the contest and the handyman quickly averted his eyes, probably assuming that he'd been checking out a very troubled young woman.
No, I don't challenge my friends to horse contests anymore, but I'm not above, when bored, playing the character of the socialite or South African exchange student or Nancy Drew in public. Airports are my favorite.
Nobody has to know I'm doing anything weird, but when I'm on a long layover at LAX, I've caught myself answering questions at TSA or the magazine store in the clipped, New Englander style of America's favorite girl sleuth. It's fun to play a character when nobody KNOWS you're playing a character!
And now I can't believe I actually admitted this to the Internet.
I'm still afraid of the dark.
If I get out of bed at night, I have to use my cell phone as a flashlight and flip on all the lights as I make my way to the bathroom or kitchen. I always sleep with the blinds open so that moonlight or the streetlamp can light my bedroom.
For the few years that I had an attic bedroom and it was DARK AS A TOMB in there, I had three night-lights illuminating the hallway and bedroom.
I'm still convinced there are ghosts and monsters lurking in the shadows.
Just last night, I had stayed up extra late reading about abandoned US ghost towns. When I finally went to bed, even though it was hot and humid, I slept under the comforter with the blanket neatly tucked around my feet. Sweaty doesn't even begin to describe it, but as everybody knows, your blanket is your impenetrable ghost and monster shield in the night. Last night, I was convinced I was being hunted.
I have to admit, I don't do this as much anymore.
I never sucked my thumb when I was little, but as soon as my hair was long enough I was sucking on it. Honestly, I liked the way my hair tasted (Suave! Pantene! Mmmmm.) and it was soothing. I sucked my hair all through elementary school, some of high school and part of college.
When I chopped my hair into a pixie cut for a few years, that pretty much put a stop to it. But now my hair is long and wild again, and occasionally, in times of stress I find myself reaching for a lock of hair hanging by my face and passing it over my lips a few times, almost like I'm debating whether or not to begin the habit anew.
So those are the weirdo things I still do from when I was a kid. There are a few more, but I worry that some of my other quirks might classify me more as morbid rather than whimsically childlike. (I've harbored a lifelong fear of 80's Michael Jackson circa "Captain EO" because I was convinced the ghost in my childhood bedroom was a teleporting Michael Jackson copycat.)
Is there anything you haven't quite grown out of? Do you have a favorite stuffed animal? Are you still afraid of the dark? Still suck your thumb? Hair?
Tell me! I love all your delightful weirdo stories!