Character development

I remember being afraid of spontaneous human combustion as a child. It probably wasn’t anything prevalent in the media, perhaps just one focus on this insanity type of passing story on some pseudo-science show. But it stuck with me. How could someone so normal and happy one minute wind up turning into a barbecued biped the next? With no warning?? I was terrified…for about a week. Then I shifted to other odd concerns, like why I couldn’t bend spoons with my mind. But human torches would be part of a trend for what I was willing to accept as possibilities in my life.

There was never any shortage of things to do, living where I did. There was the national park in my backyard, there was one grandparent’s ranch where many rotten egg fights were had and there was my maternal grandparents’ pool. Or as I like to call it, the pool of dreams.

In the southern California summers, that pool was an irresistible force, pulling me away from other fun and chores alike. It was where I learned the differences in pressure between the surface and the bottom of the pool when I had all the air sucked out of my lungs trying to breathe from a garden hose. It was also where I built an underwater air station with a bucket and a bungee cord. Hey granny! Watch me stay underwater…for ten minutes! That one got me in some trouble, but it was worth it.

In the winter, my grandfather and I would erect The Bubble, an inflatable, anchored cover that turned the outdoor pool into an indoor one. There’s something magical (and noisy) about swimming in the rain under a protective plastic bubble.

Minus the snow, of course…and the forest.

Nothing could prevent me from sneaking in there at all hours to swim in complete privacy. Nothing, that is, except Jaws. I was convinced that sharks, being the masters of time and space that they are, could either teleport directly into the pool, or fit through the little quarter-inch drain holes at the bottom, and would devour me messily before sneaking back out through the plumbing to the ocean. And if it wasn’t sharks, I was certainly going to be suction-cupped to death by a giant pool-squid. Those things are even more sneaky than plumbing sharks. Somehow, I beat the odds and wasn’t mangled by either species in my grandparents’ pool.

Plumbing sharks always roll with an entourage.

Ninjas. They’re real, and they’re spectacular. They could (and can) jump, flip, roll, dodge, fly and vanish in a puff of toxic chemicals. And they were coming for me. You know, because of my importance to the Asian community at a young age. They wanted my secrets and nothing would stop them from abducting me to get them (except reality). The only way for me to be safe was to pretend to be one of them. So I would dart around the neighborhood at night wearing my ninja costume, sneaking through un-fenced backyards and hiding in bushes when cars would drive by, all in an effort to ensure that, aside from me, the neighborhood was ninja-free. But was it really?

I was adopted.

Whoah! What the WHAT?? You can’t drop that in the middle of a series of stories about your crazy childhood fantasies and…oooooh, I see.

Yeah. I wasn’t, but I also wasn’t convinced by all of the overwhelming photographic evidence. I was certain I was a robotic experiment and these other meat-marionettes were simply observing my progress and protecting me from the ninjas and plumbing sharks until I could grow large enough to compute for myself. I was also part wolf and part tiger, because that’s how all cybernetic child-organisms are built. Look it up.

There was a door somewhere, if I could only find it, that would let a cyborg-tiger-wolf-ninja (cytwonja?) live the way cytwonjas were meant to live: fighting dragons, rescuing maidens and recovering lost treasure. This door was guarded by Mr. Rogers, and only a select few of us cytwonjas were allowed through. I never found it to ask permission to cross over, however. It certainly wasn’t at the far end of the abandoned mine shafts in the mountains behind my house. I kept checking weekly, though.

All of these fantasies, and more, led to me feeling as if there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do/be/experience at any time in my life. So far, it’s led me to getting my junk sniffed by a lion, becoming a skydiver, SCUBA diving with sharks and traveling the world in search of new places to make Achebeyo mad and make new friends. I’m always looking forward to what’s next. Unless a plumbing shark or the ninjas get me.

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6 Comments on “Character development”

  1. Meg Says:

    LOL!! Now all you have to worry about are human kats and knudnik revolts!! Good blog!!

  2. Mr Pig Says:

    I continue to find similar childhood experiences we share in common. The hose at the bottom of the pool thing… who knew? 😉

    • renpiti Says:

      I think all water adventurers start off by nearly drowning in some fashion in a family pool at a young age. Did you go on to create the underwater breathing station as well?

  3. Katieie Says:

    Whoa. It’s like we were the same kid. Minus the pool bubble. But we DID have a pool. The biggest difference is that you managed to hang on to that stuff which has led to SO many cool things in your life. If only the rest of us had managed to do the same!

    And remember – stop trying to bend the spoon. Just remember that there IS no spoon.


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