Wednesday, December 22, 2010

weird things I did as a kid

I liked some weird stuff when I was a child. I read about bog bodies and witches and I mostly spent my time studying up on canopic jars, mummies and ghosts.

So what you say? Lots of kids like that sort of stuff, which may be true - but I really loved it with a passion. I knew about forensic anthropology, adipocere and poltergeists long before I knew about how to play with dolls. In fact one of my most vivid childhood memories was using a red hot needle stuffed in a cork to pierce my dolly's nose and forehead. I wanted her to be able to wear an earring in the middle of her head just like I'd seen Indian women do on TV. Ok, yeah, I know now that those are actually stick on bindis on their foreheads but back then I thought it was the coolest look ever and with childish logic I figured that if they pierced their noses, obviously their heads must have holes in them too.  I heated up that needle with my dad's lighter and set about doing some home-made body piercing. After my stylish success with Sindy (the less popular British version of Barbie) I was itching to try it on my sister too - but she caught a whiff of burning dolly plastic and ran a mile. She knew me very well.

I'd spend my time using Ouija boards to contact 2000 year old spirits from Mars (looking back, I think it was lying about the living on Mars thing) and wondering what my cat looked like underneath its skin. I remember being very frustrated that we lived in a block of units at the time and that I had nowhere private to bury her and dig her up when she died to find out.

Weird and bizarre things used to thrill me to bits. I found out that during the mummification process, the Ancient Egyptians thought the brain was nothing important - they'd pull it out with a hook through your nose by breaking into the sinus cavity and then they'd throw it away.  The lesser organs - The stomach, intestines, liver and lungs where all stored in separate conopic jars and each was guarded over by a specific goddess. The most important organ was the heart, which was the seat of the soul and it was always left in the body. In the afterlife the heart would be weighed against a feather by Anubis. A heavy heart full of bad deeds would be fed to a monster. A light heart full of truth would go on to paradise.  I don't know about you but I used to think that was a pretty neat way of sorting the wheat from the chaff.. until I found out that most of the writing on the pyramid tomb walls consisted of cheat-sheets to help you pass the test - even if you were an utter bastard in life.

I'd spend hours lying on my back in the grass looking for UFOs or Santa's sleigh (depending on what time of year it was) all the while wondering how the hell Santa was ever going to get into my Nan's house to deliver the presents. You see we had no fireplace and no chimney and the only thing I ever spotted on the roof that was remotely a mode of access for him was the toilet's stink pipe. I figured he must contort himself to fit down a pipe only a few inches wide and emerge smelling of sewerage to delicately place our presents in the pillowslip we left at the end of our beds. When I asked my nan about it she told me she simply left the screen door unlocked for him, which was such a letdown I almost cried.

I wanted to know how hospital drips worked and better still how catheters were connected. I almost got a chance to find out when my nan was put in hospital, but I got sprung by my mum before I could follow the golden tube all the way to its source.

I used to have contests with my sister to see who could stop breathing the longest and I'd lay on the floor and play dead. Being a corpse really appealed to me back then, or better still - a vampire. I often went outdoors at night and swanned around in my nightie waiting for the undead to have their way with me - right up until my 40's.

I think too, that being a geeky weird kid must be genetic. All my own kids are a bit strange too, but unlike my own mother, who scarcely paid any attention to me and certainly never encouraged me, I've given my kids free reign to be as geeky as they like.

After all, studying the stomach contents (burnt cereal cake and traces of mistletoe) and ligature marks on celtic bog bodies never hurt me, right?

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