When I was in Mr. Landeen's seventh grade science class, we started talking about diseases (because that's what you do in seventh grade science class). I sat on the front row next to my friend Aaron Ludwig who had broken his leg and got to use crutches, so naturally I spent the whole of 1997 jumping from the top of stairs unnecessarily to try to fracture any bone that could also allow me to use crutches and garner at least as much attention as he had been receiving. Fortunately, I was never quite brave enough to fully commit to said venture and so never ended up with so much as a bruise. Some things never change. Anyway, during Mr. Landeen's lecture on the common cold, I found myself suddenly extremely light-headed. After a minute or two, Aaron Ludwig raised his hand and said, "I think Eli is about to hurl." I did not hurl, but rather passed out cold onto the tile floor. So there's that. Ever since I've avoided any detailed conversation concerning any physical ailment, whatsoever. Also I'm generally terrified of the human body. And catheters.
When I was eight my dad took me fishing. I saw the small buoys bouncing up and down on the water and asked him what they were. Having learned a few parenting tricks from my mother over the years, he found the most disturbing explanation he could imagine, conveyed that explanation to me with a straight face, and then turned it into a lesson: "obviously, that's where the police put children when they are misbehaving, and the more misbehaving children there are, the more crowded those become." (In Bob and Cathie's defense, I was apparently the spawn of Satan until at least age 12. And apparently their somewhat morbid practices worked to some degree as I'm now a relatively well-behaved adult, although one with many irrational fears). Rather than become concerned that I might be stuffed in there with the undoubtedly hundreds of suffocating children (and yes, these buoys were about the size of a basketball; I believed in many impossible things at age eight, including one creature my older sisters invented called "The First Eye" which was a giant eyeball with 1,000 toes all the way around the perimeter. It lived in every cave on Earth and terrified children. I still get the chills when I drive through southern Utah and see dark holes in the red rock), I thought to myself how horrible it must be for the police officers to have to swim out to the middle of the lake to stuff children into the bouncing buoys. This was a terrifying thought mostly because I was sure that lake was full of giant vengeful fish with razor sharp teeth (who were apparently smart enough not to fall for our bait as I'm sure we caught nothing that day). I think somewhere in the back of my mind I firmly resolved that I would never have a job that required me to do anything like that. And by the time I was 23 and realized that that story was probably not true, I was already unpersuaded-ly comfortable that I would make a terrible police officer.
I hate animals.
At age six I cut Micalyne's hair. She was four. I did an amazing job. I took out half of her bangs and cut out a couple of chunks from the back that I didn't think needed to be there. I thought it made her look "real" and approachable. Cathie, on the other hand, did not feel the same way at all. Fortunately for six-year-old Eli, the whole thing got blamed on Libby from down the street, which Micalyne verified was the true perpetrator of the massacred hair, because evidently Bob and Cathie hadn't yet figured out that child-Micalyne just answered "yes" to every question asked of her, and they just happened to ask first whether Libby had cut her hair. It is also possible that child-Micalyne just had a terrible memory (this came in handy once again two years later when I scratched her misspelled name into the bumper of Bob's car, to which she admitted guilt (I intentionally misspelled it to make it look more authentic. She was only six years old after all)). In any event, I have now gone two full decades without fessing up to the hair-cutting incident. So there it is mom and dad: it was me. I hope my punishment didn't accrue interest.
~It Just Gets Stranger
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