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Girl with horse.

Girl with horse.
I was like this girl. Long ago. On an Arkansas Ozark mountain, far, far away.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Did Your Parents Censor?

     Did your parents censor what you read and watched on TV and at the movies?
     And did that parental protection keep you from worrying about monsters when they turned off your bedroom lights and wished you sweet dreams?
     My parents never censored anything I read or watched. That might have been why I spent so many nights of my pre-teen years with my head under my covers, making sure not even one toe-tip peeked over the edge of the bed. It's amazing how ordinary household blankets had a force-field protective power, so the monsters didn't get their claws on me and eat me. Covering myself up so I wasn’t monster-chow led to a lot of sweating in the summer, but I still have all my toes, ears, nose and fingers to this day, thanks to the power of the Blanket-Shield.
     I remember being not merely afraid of the dark, but absolutely terrified. An open closet door was a potential portal for things with more teeth than hair to come slithering into my room and devour my tender pre-pubescent bod with big bloody chomps. Any skittering I heard might be tiny monsters under the bed, which would eat me up with their tiny mouths filled with needle teeth.
     I admit I had these fears about monsters and turning the light off in my bedroom up until I was about twelve. What happened then was I had a hard time at school, and endured so much bullying that I felt I had more in common with the hideous monsters drooling under my bed than any similarity to my classmates. I also felt, if it’s dark, then a monster might not be able to see me any better than I could see it, so I might be able to run away or even get the drop on the thing.
     I lived on an isolated farmstead in the Ozark Mountains—Skylight Mountain to be exact. Occasionally when I woke up at night I’d crawl out of bed and go for long walks in the dark without a flashlight. The night became my friend; it hid me in a soft and friendly darkness when I snuck out to hike under the stars while my parents slept. The monsters, if they could see me at all, seemed more like potential companions than fearsome predators.
     I read my first sensual scenes when I was thirteen. Romance books weren't the original culprits for introducing sex to my young, curious mind. Sci-fi led the way with sexual content and suggestive themes, particularly Robert A. Heinlein and “Glory Road. The main character, Oscar, saw his future wife, Star, on a nudist beach and described her naked body in intense and loving detail.
     Star, as Oscar discovered after he married her, was his own great-great-great grandmother. She was immortal as well as scandalously immoral, or she seemed that way to a thirteen year old mountain girl who attended a small Southern Baptist Church on Hale Mountain.
I spent some time analyzing: What degree of sin, how much portion of guilt, should be assigned to to someone who married his ancestor? Was this genetic relation really any different from marrying a second or third cousin, which was perfectly legal everywhere? So “Glory Road” ambushed me with moral evaluation and philosophy, through the romantic elements so common in Heinlein’s work.
     Is it any wonder at all, with the books I read and the movies I watched, that I’d someday come to write about the beautiful monsters? And try to persuade you that, in my world, the society of monsters might be more comfortable than your human peers? If one of my monsters was under your bed, you’d want to invite him or her to keep you company on top of it.
     I write about aliens with sharp teeth and tentacles who are beautiful and desirable. You don’t think that’s possible? Oh yeah, trust me, I can make you see the monsters through my eyes and you will want them.
What did parental censorship, or lack of it, do for you when you were a curious youngster? What did you read and watch that affected you the most profoundly?