Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I Can't Sleep

One Christmas my grandma gave me a clown doll. Wind a key in its back and a music box would play from from its bowels as its head rolled around on its neck. My mom put it on the dresser across from my bed where it could watch me as I lay rigid under the sheets, too fearful to sleep. It had a big red smile and orange yarn hair and loose, long arms that I imagined knotting around my throat like in PoltergeistSometimes in the middle of the night it would suddenly start moving, playing just a few notes as its head turned. If every muscle in my body weren't clenched I probably would have wet the bed.

When my parents noticed my fatigue, my dad recorded some soothing music to play at bedtime. He called it "space music," and you can still hear it on NPR late at night. It is weird and lonely sounding. It uses synthesizers to create desolate planetary soundscapes. It's new-agey and probably what you would find playing in a book store in Scottsdale, Arizona. This helped with my fear of the clown doll because it actually scared me more.

Help me Mr. Rogers
When the music played, I imagined myself on an icy planet with a huge, rusty apparatus bolted to my ribs. The machine attached to the poles of the planet and I was forced to walk and walk and walk forever, slowly turning the great frozen rock. The only thing worse than the 90 minutes of creepy music was when it was over. The final song would fade to silence. How long until the tape would run out? I would curl my toes, chest constricting, anticipating the BANG of the play button popping back up, deafening after the quiet of space.

Okay. Just don't listen to it, right? Hide the clown in a box somewhere and pull yourself together, child. Believe me, I tried, but I was too afraid of hurting my grandma or dad's feelings by rejecting these kind things they were doing for me. They didn't know I had a demented imagination. So, despite my efforts, the clown would find its way back onto my dresser, and my dad would tuck me in and suggest I listen to some cosmic tunes. And I would nod and say "Okay."

I understand now that he wouldn't have cared. He would have put on my Mister Rogers tape about being brave, kissed me goodnight, and never given it another thought. A few years ago we were driving and as he scanned through the stations on the satellite radio, I heard the familiar, abyssal drones. "Hey! Space Music! Remember how you guys used to love that?" he said. He lingered on the station, and I thought about confessing my true feelings on space music, but I kept my mouth shut. He remembered it as something nice he did for me, and I didn't want to sully that. And it was niceHow many fathers would stay up and record weird music to help his daughter fall asleep?

But I took that clown into the basement, broke its neck, and hid it behind a box of Christmas ornaments. You can't tell me that thing wasn't possessed. 

1 comment:

  1. This post is far too engaging to have no comments.

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