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Fan rituals, and Other weird stuff I remember pretending as a kid - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Fan rituals, and Other weird stuff I remember pretending as a kid
In my Saga Journal essay, I mentioned that SW fans might come up with individual rituals, even if they weren't official. So one of my the two SW friends with whom I'm meeting up immediately e-mailed me and reminded me that I haven't yet put in my votes on M&M colors for a custom bunch she's ordering. Since we were around thirteen, we've always had M&Ms and ginger ale for get-togethers (no matter what else is there) and toasted one another with, "May we choke on M&Ms and ginger ale." We then proceed to sort the M&Ms by color while watching movies. This is high ritual. The both of them have significant others, one of whom greets it with rolled eyes and the other one of whom threatens to mix them up again... imagine. I keep expecting to reach an age where this ritual becomes meaningless and feels silly, but I never do. It's just a feeling of, "Yay--the gang's together again."


In fact, I never seem to reach an age where I'm an actual different person than I have been at other ages. My perspectives change, my opinions (on rare occasions) change, and my interests shift around, but no matter what I do, I stubbornly remain me--the person who digs weird little rituals, loves fairy tales, plays lets-pretend, and does her assignments at the last possible minute--like pulling the all-nighter to finish that essay. I've read about people looking at pictures of their childhood selves and thinking, "Was that really me?" But it's not something I really get on any level. Most pictures I see of myself at any age past infancy, I can remember what I was thinking and feeling, and even more than that, what I was imagining.

  • Before school, I used to play witch and stir different sorts of leaves and pine needles into the mud puddle at the end of the driveway, trying to make potions to make me beautiful or rich or whatever was on my mind that day.
  • I have very vague memories of still living on Woodward Avenue (I left when I turned six), and going across the street to play with Veronica. One day, we were playing with cloth and pretending to sew, and I decided to make myself special magic shoes. I was horribly disappointed when I couldn't wear them home.
  • My pre-school friends Rebecca and Michelle (identical twins) would come over, and I would always be the wicked witch, who'd captured Michelle and made her do housework, while Rebecca came in to rescue her sister. (I still think of Rebecca as sort of an action-hero girl's name.)
  • When I was seven, I used to pretend to be a superhero because I'd inhaled some weird exhaust fumes--I watched a lot of superhero cartoons--and my power involved sending out different colors of smoke that would do different things.
  • When family friends came to visit from Indiana, the daughter who was my age gave me a little beaded necklace with three images of eagles on it, and I became the great Three-Eagle, mystical Indian princess with super strength and telepathy.
  • After watching Vader in ESB, my superhero power was controlling the wind. ;)
  • At roller skating parties during elementary school, where my clumsy self used to fall and worry about having my fingers run over, I used to pretend that I had a pair of magical skates with diamond wheels that prevented me from falling, and there was a round ruby shield that kept people from bumping into me. (I actually did fall less when I was pretending this. I guess it made me more confident or something.)


On the less lets-pretend-ish stuff, I remember imagining or worrying about:
  • Vampires (which I called Draculas until I was at least eight)--I was sure we had one in the house who used to stand in the bedroom door just waiting for me to get up at night.
  • Damage-less bombs. These would kill everyone but leave everything standing and habitable for the bad guys to use. I didn't really have any concept of who "bad guys" were, as it was never allowed in my house to make such an assumption about any group of people. I guess I thought maybe the Empire was going to invade, though I don't remember that one for sure. It might have been the Russians at the time, though my mother would certainly have given me a talking to about believing such awful things and I don't remember having such a talk.
  • Until I was about six, I believed we were still at war with England. Not that they were bad guys (see above), but that they must really hate us for leaving. People tried to disabuse me of this notion, but I couldn't grasp the thought that at some point, it had become all right that we'd left.
  • I thought that just about anything I did was going to be offensive. This probably comes from having opened an umbrella inside once (just playing with it) and having a superstitious adult start going on about bringing bad luck, but it extended to worrying about really minor matters. The one I remember most is being awfully certain that I was supposed to hide the little plastic coffee can that decorated my Sunshine Family doll house when Mormon friends came, since I knew Mormons didn't drink coffee. I think I may still have this slight tendency to, erm, overthink things.


All of this led directly first to acting, then to writing, btw. When I write, I still do it from the same place that came up with my magic roller skates. I'm the same person I remember being as a child, and I honestly don't think I'm remembering it wrong.

It occurs to me that of all my weird and quirky lets-pretend beliefs, I never had any of those arcane childhood beliefs about sex. My mother sat me down and explained everything--with diagrams and pictures in textbooks--as soon as I asked, and I never wondered before then. This does not seem to have made me particularly free-wheeling. Ah, the many ways to grow up a dyed-in-the-wool prude...
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Comments
sonetka From: sonetka Date: December 2nd, 2004 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love little-kid logic; especially like how you were convinced we were still at war with England. (I know for a while I was kind of vague as to whether WWII was current or in the past). For myself, probably the most out-of-nowhere belief I had was when I was about three and somehow decided that "going to California" was some sort of euphemism for death. I have no idea how on earth this happened, except that I must have heard someone use the expression "to go west" and the only state that I knew was in the west was California. My mom still remembers the sobbing meltdown I had at the age of four when I asked whether we could visit one of my uncles and she said no, he went to California yesterday :).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2004 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL! I can just imagine the puzzlement.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: December 2nd, 2004 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's in a book or a movie, isn't it? There's this boy who works at an animal shelter and his supervisor tells him that the sick animals go to California, and then at the end he finds out that they're being put down.

I have no idea how I remembered that, and now I would like to know what it is my memory is dragging up. Hmm.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: December 2nd, 2004 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seriously? That's so weird. I wasn't reading at that point, and I'm guessing that if I'd gotten it from a movie my mom would have noticed :). (My parents were very anti-movie & TV and I generally went to about one film a year). The only reason I was aware of California at all is because I had a bunch of relatives who lived there, and I generally knew it was "out west." Can't remember any associations with sick animals, though; my parents were usually pretty upfront about things like explaining that the cat had gotten old and sick and was therefore put to sleep.

Hmmm...California as a metaphor for death in the minds of midwestern children...I sense a study coming on :).
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: December 3rd, 2004 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)
That's really weird.
From: jetis Date: December 2nd, 2004 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I used to pretend to be a princess, but my best friend Alicia, made me be the prince when we played in her back yeard. So.

AND-

I liked to play with Barbie Dolls, but I liked to pair the men togther. No joke. Ken always cheated on Barbie with that other dude.
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: December 2nd, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I definitely have to agree with you on the always-the-same-person thing; I've noticed it about myself. It's a bit off-putting sometimes, when I can remember exactly how I felt at one moment when I was three.

Before school, I used to play witch and stir different sorts of leaves and pine needles into the mud puddle at the end of the driveway, trying to make potions to make me beautiful or rich or whatever was on my mind that day.
I did that until about sixth grade. A friend and I decided that we were witches in training, and we made potions and did Grand Bewitchments--we got that out of a book. (We were influenced by a lot of different books, actually, like Victoria.) It was terribly fun.

Vampires (which I called Draculas until I was at least eight)--I was sure we had one in the house who used to stand in the bedroom door just waiting for me to get up at night.
I had a big thing about sleeping with the covers over my head for ages because I saw a Scooby Doo episode with a vampire. Actually, it was a person in a vampire mask, which makes it even sillier.

On sex--I had a sort-of-friend who told me and the witchy friend about it very, very early, before we even thought about it. It rather affected us: at the time, ...well, I try not to think of Barbies anymore. And now, I think we are a bit more prudish. But we might have been anyways.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: December 2nd, 2004 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Before school, I used to play witch and stir different sorts of leaves and pine needles into the mud puddle at the end of the driveway, trying to make potions I did the exact same thing for ages. There was a little space in the middle of a group of tress in my backyard, and I would go there and make mud pies with all sorts of weird leaves. I gave myself poison ivy once doing that.

One day, we were playing with cloth and pretending to sew, and I decided to make myself special magic shoes. I was horribly disappointed when I couldn't wear them home. My friends and I used to make ourselves wings out of coat hangers and pantyhose and glitter. Those were the days.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: December 3rd, 2004 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)
^ Yep, me too. At my great aunt's house I would pull all the catkins off the trees and put them in the bird bath, which was my 'cauldron'. I also employed my little sister as my magical slave!

I was convinced that people on tv could see all the people who were watching them. I imagined them sitting there looking at loads of tv screens all with little faces staring at them.

And as for being worried about vampires - I was terrified of the giants from the BFG. In my bedroom, something or other used to make a shadow that loomed on the ceiling from the window to my bed. I thought it was the giant's finger coming to snatch me out of bed and eat me. I also had this fear that one of the giants might come out of the loo when I flushed it - I used to flush and run screaming from the bathroom!
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: December 3rd, 2004 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I used to reach over with my foot to flush the toilet, while shutting the light off with one hand--then dashing away like mad!
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: December 3rd, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
My little brother and I were convinced that getting new shoes made us faster, so whenever Mom and Dad bought us shoes, the first thing we'd do is go tearing around the lawn, circling the house, as fast as we could go.

My favorite fantasies had to do with being a princess or being out in the wild on my own and having to build a house, find food, etc. I think that was brought on by the "Little House" books.

It is odd, some days, to look at old pictures and remember exactly what life was like back then, what I was like back then.
chienar From: chienar Date: December 5th, 2004 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Can I have the green M&M's?
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