Monday, January 28, 2013

Childhood Scares, Scars and a Book Recommendation to Boot...

Sometimes I fear I peaked during the single digit years of my life.  

My brain was a veritable sponge in the late 70's.  From Agatha Christie to Stephen King, I read hundreds of books and retained warehouses-worth of information. However, I've never felt the inclination or capability to read or remember a tenth as much in my adulthood.  Brain space that should have been prime cerebral real estate for literature and philosophy has instead been clogged with TV show themes, commercial jingles and forty years worth of World Series champions and Oscar winners.  In other words, banal and trivial bullshit.

It's even sadder to realize that I probably haven't matured much emotionally beyond those formative years either. One need only examine my relationships (both platonic and romantic) from the past, present and probable future to deduce that. But that's a "TMI" subject for a blog that will never be written. But between the ages of three and ten, I experienced more misadventures and non-hormonally fueled adrenalin rushes than in the decades since.

If I was to track that seven year saga, Page One would open with the summer day I was taken captive for several hours by a bunch of honest-to-God reprobates I later nicknamed "the Kidnapping Kids".  As time has passed, it's been reduced to a pastiche of thin strips of memory: fluorescent colored tricycle spokes; hands and feet bound to a creaky wooden chair with two knotty jump ropes; the basement air musty yet rife with the smell of cherry flavored candy, and no one believing me when I tried to report this juvenile crime.

Good times.

The final act of the epic tale would cover that fateful June afternoon when a...

Hmmm...there's a word I want to use.  The "R" word.  A word which some have attempted to vilify and hold in the same "you can't say that" disregard as the dreaded "N" word.  Personally, I hate the idea of ANY word being off-limits, whether it begins with an "N", an "R" or even an "F".  

But a couple years ago, I had fun writing a sub-plot/running gag in a sitcom spec script, whereas I replaced the gasp-inducing "N" word with the far more silly and congenial word "nincompoop".  So the script was speckled with lines like "Nincompoop, please" and "You my nincompoop" and so on.

Trust me, it reads funnier in context, as most things tend to do.  In that spirit, I will used the word "retired" and all its derivations to sum up that final event. Now where was I...?

The final act of the epic tale would cover that fateful June afternoon when a...retired kid threw a steel walker at me.  It came less than an inch away from putting my eye out.  

Instead, a geyser of blood erupted from my torn left eyebrow, while the fucking little retiree danced a little jig of malevolent glee. Seven stitches and nineteen hours later, the bullied became the bully, and I whaled away on the retired bastard with both fists as well as the edge of a paddleball racquet. For the next year or so, before it faded and became somewhat less noticeable (save for causing a break in the brow), I could have given Harry Potter a run for his money in the jagged facial scar category.

And thus would end the story. Never claimed it was a "feel good" tale, did I? 

It's interesting to note that over thirty years later, in each of my screenplays, the main character is taken prisoner and held against his will.  He is wounded in some singularly painful yet ultimately "it's just a flesh wound" manner.  By the end, either revenge is doled out or justice is served in some fairly violent denouement.  I've often noted other aspects of my life that have shone through in my writing, from the obvious to the borderline subtle.  But it wasn't until this morning as I composed this blog that I realized how my childhood continues to echo and resonate. Apparently the ripples in the pond have not quite ebbed away.

Just one more thing...

This blog was originally intended to be a brief discussion of a book I first read when I was a kid, sometime between Mommie Dearest and The Amityville Horror.  However, I derailed myself after my first few sentences, leaving the wreckage you just combed through.

The book I was GOING to chat about was purchased for me undoubtedly due to its cover. I'm sure my mother assumed it wasn't anything more corrupting than your average 70's comic book, as it even had an innocuous title: Super-Folks by Robert Mayer.

Imagine being eight years old, and the first page of a book you open details the horrific deaths of Superman, Batman, Robin, the Marvel Family and Snoopy. Yeah, even Snoopy.

I'm not sure my eight-year-old brain comprehended the sexuality (both hetero- and homo-), the satire and the complete & utter deconstruction of the superhero mythos that Mayer pulls off in Super-Folks. It's a work that's clearly had a lasting impact and influence on the works of Grant Morrison, Kurt Busiek and Alan Moore, among other comic book writing luminaries. 

Although Super-Folks was out of print for over twenty-five years, it was finally re-released in two different editions in both 2003 & 2005, so I'm sure one can track it down on Amazon or your local public library. The newer editions may have lost the hyphen between Super and Folks, but I'm sure they retain everything else. Written almost a decade before pop culture milestones like Watchmen, I'd recommend it to anyone regardless of what their geek status may be.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate to this blog post. When I was a child, I was "captured" and bullied and sometimes tortured and wounded. (Other things happened to me, but this is neither the time nor place to talk about it. The difference for me is that I never really fought back, so that made me an "easy target." Yes, I do believe that these incidents have stayed with me, but I am a much stronger person now.