Thursday, April 24, 2008

I like to scare children

At a corporate retreat yesterday (no trust falls or sumo suits) we were asked to draw a picture to show a little-known-fact about ourselves. Since I am very mild-mannered and secretive at work, I have lots of little-known facts. But which of them could I draw?

I ended up drawing an angry open-mouthed stick figure (eyebrows, exclamation points) gesturing and shouting at a smaller stick figure that, thanks to my mad art skilz, appeared to be screaming and bawling its eyes out in soul-breaking terror (scrunched eyes, gaping mouth, tears).

It went a little overboard, as my stick-figure sketches tend to do, but the message was supposed to be: I like to scare children. As in: hide in the bushes at Halloween, or -- this would be great -- arrange to burst out the ground in front of a fake gravestone.

Or my personal favorite: write my characters into situations that are simply very frightening or very bad or both. I think we forget as adults how scary the world is when you're a kid. We hadn't developed the certainties that we have now. We know a plane probably won't land on our houses, we know something soft and algae-green and buzzing with flies probably won't slurp up to our house from the creek, we know our cars probably won't come to life; we know fish don't talk and that dogs always die and that sometimes people are cruel for no reason.

But kids don't. Their world is wider than ours in some ways.

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