Those of you familiar with my work may well have heard me mention my stuperstitious nature. By this I mean that I have an irrational belief that things can be affected by certain irrational behaviours. It’s stupid how superstitious I am. So: stuperstitious. I haven’t been able to walk on pavement cracks since I was 4 years old and some big kid told me that some terrible thing would happen to my mother’s back if I did. I still can’t walk on pavement cracks, also I will tap my forehead and, embarrassingly, even your forehead if I don’t have actual wood in tapping distance, if someone silly says anything vaguely reminiscent to ‘touch wood’. I hold my collar until Emergency Vehicles have passed and I throw salt over my shoulder much to the amusement of the other kitchen and wait staff where I work. I am compelled to do it even while I know how nutty it is. I’m your basic nutjob.
When I was a child, there was a monster under my bed. Naturally during daylight hours, I knew there was no such thing. But as an insomniac child, at around 2am, I equally knew – he was there and he was waiting. Around this belief that he lived there, I apparently constructed ‘rules’ that would keep me alive.
1. No part of me was to hang over the bed.
2. I was not to breathe.
3. In the event I did have to breathe it was to be done slowly and silently.
4. I could not leave the bed.
5. In the event I did have to leave the bed because my very nervous bladder would betray me otherwise, I was to step only on the orange bunny rug and then through the doorway.
6. Doing this two step jump out of my bedroom would inevitably have my Dad call out and ask what was going on, in which case I was not under any circumstances to acknowledge any kind of monster lay in wait to assuage its hunger on my skinny stalky body; lest I alert the monster that I knew he was there in which case I was totally fair game. With me so far?
7. I was to return to bed and pretend I was asleep within 30 seconds, even while my mind was racing.
8. If necessary, I was to pretend I was already dead in the hope that the Monster would think that another Monster had beaten him to killing me. Apparently Monsters only like to eat fresh kills they have made themselves.
Every Christmas Eve, I was certain was going to be my last – and I recall thinking in my usual panic, what a shame it was that I would be eaten before Santa came.
Back then, there was a streetlight about 10 metres from my bedroom window and it made the shadows of the Staghorn Ferns that my Dad hung up outside move on my walls. Overactive imagination? Nah!
One of the reasons I hate camping is that at the tender age of 38, in the middle of the night, I know those rules and add variations to them.
I’m telling you this, because if I tell my kids they will never let me live it down.