My mum didn’t really monitor my reading materials when I was young so much as just let me read whatever the hell I wanted. Age appropriateness wasn’t really in her vernacular. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t snuggling down with Penthouse Forum at bedtime, she would typically read the synopsis on the back of the book and then just let me get on with it. To be fair, a lot of what I was reading at age 10 or 11 were things she knew and had read herself, so she didn’t have a lot to worry about. This changed with Stephen King.
So here I am, at 10, reading IT. Being an only child, it was so, so easy for me to let my imagination run wild. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters to bounce off or torture so it was all left up to me. I was fine to start. Fascinated by the macabre, even that young and getting really into the whole thing.
Then comes the violence, the kids dying, the old houses and that fucking clown! Here’s me, same age as the kids in the book, reading about them, slipping further away from myself every time I crack the binding. Imagination running, running, running. And let’s be honest here, scaring the shit out of myself with every page read.
If you’ve not read it, here’s the low down. Ancient mystical creature (disguised as a jolly circus clown, thank you very much, Mister King) feeds off children and hunts them through the city’s sewer system. The large Victorian pipes making it easy for said creature to move about…fucking ANYWHERE. And there’s a bit where there’s a little girl using the toilet and the creature tries to pull her down through the u-bend and ends up breaking her neck…
(as an aside. adult me thinks ‘who the holy fuck leans closer when they hear voices coming out of the freaking toilet!?’ run, motherfucker, run!)
Where do I live? Old ass house. With ancient piping. How old am I? Same as the kids in the book. This. fucking. creature. is. coming. to. get. me. Why can’t I put this fucking book down? Please mum, why won’t you tell me I’m not allowed to read this shit!? Oh no, another kid’s died….toilet bad. Water bad…Why am I torturing myself? Burn it with fire!
The long and short of all this, is somewhere in my infantile brain I started equating using the toilet with dying a tortuous death. But the sink? The sink was my salvation. The sink provided me a quiet space where I could keep a damn close eye on anything that might come oozing out of the bowl and run like hell if it did. I could prop my little bum right up there and give the finger to the ancient creature and y’know, not pee my pants. So, screw you, mister asshole clown! You won’t get me! I’ve figured you out and I’m smarter than you.
Until my mum caught me doing it.
As was/is her way, my mum was less mad and more amused by the whole situation. Through chuckles she explained that nothing was going to jump up and bite my ass while I was trying to snip some cable. And at the end of the day ALL THE PIPES ARE CONNECTED ANYWAY! Thanks for that. So she says, stop pissing in the sink, I know you’re 10 and scared shitless, but it’s gross and you are old enough to know this stuff isn’t real.
Talked down from my sinky perch, I agreed to start using the toilet like a normal person. (Though it didn’t stop me from taking a sabbatical behind the barn if need be.)
Thereafter though, as was the norm with her, anytime I would have to go to the bathroom my mum would stand outside the bathroom door knock very lightly and whisper, ‘We all float down here. Weeee alllll flooooat!’ Having read just enough of the book to fuck with me.
It’s surprising I’m not completely mad.