Monday, June 28, 2010

Something under the bed is drooling*

(*There was no way I could come up with a better title than this, which Bill Watterson used for one of his Calvin and Hobbes collections. Thank you.)

Irrational. A normally-nourished child of five or so will not slip between the planks of the Balboa pier, plunging to the churning sea beneath. An image lingers of stumbling, of the wayward foot once caught on the splintery board, managing - unaware - to pry itself an opening sufficient to permit the nightmare drop. It is nearly dusk; lights along the pier can't illuminate the ocean below. Vigilance, caution, and slow, slow progress, board by board, may carry me the distance. Someone - grandmother, grandfather - takes my hand without scolding or impatience. I am more sure of foot with their help. To this day I watch every step on a weathered, wooden pier. The water remembers me.

Childhood fears - loathings is a whole separate category - may come from something (the lizard in the shoebox left on top of the trash can at the curb) or nothing identifiable, i.e. malevolent piers. I know I wasn't in an altered state when I rode the Skyway AND the Cyclone coaster during the last questionable glory of Pacific Ocean Park. Both the Skyway gondolas and the roller coaster followed the pier out over the water and neither gave any indication of having been scrupulously maintained. The Diving Bell - read elevator dunked into a tank of sealife, harmless and not - leaked; we stood ankle-deep in water and I imagined all the seams and windows giving way. At Marineland of the Pacific, viewing the creatures from a lower ramp gave me a foreboding of glass cracking and tourists swept away along with the attractions. THAT particular dread manifested, years later and not in my presence, when one of the performing whales gave the window a great whack as he prepared for his leap.

I'll call this Part One - that seems to be turning into a pattern - to be continued.

15 comments:

Penny said...

The title, with its connotation of things lying in wait, is apt.

Childhood fears, yes, my biggest bogeyman is a horror of deep, still, dark water, and to this day I will not voluntarily go near or on a bridge even, over such water.

The imagery in your post is stunning, being a "picture" person, I googled the pier and the Pacific Ocean Park, but didn't need to - the mental imagery was right on.

Anticipating Part Two.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I remember POP when I was a kid. My parents would drive through Venice over the arched bridges on the way back to my uncle's house in Santa Monica. Is POP even still there??

Laoch of Chicago said...

One loved Calvin & Hobbes!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Penny - More water thoughts seem to be claiming space in part 2. Do we even want to know what our water horror means?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - I would have to check but I don't believe even a trace is left of POP, though its remains sat for a long time before being demolished. It started out bright and lively, and I assume safe, last of the Venice/Santa Monica amusement parks.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Calvin and Hobbes are still big around here; my son has the complete collection, the size of a small suitcase. The wit is timeless.

Radish King said...

Oh my. This is was is breath holding.
xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - Held breath is pretty much my m.o. for such things...I think, for the moment, it is okay to exhale...that could change. Thank you. xoxo

Sherry O'Keefe said...

especially liked the lizard in the shoebox! (well...not "liked" but more like i admired your use of it for giving me the shudders..!)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sherry - Nice to meet you here. And oh, that one still gives me the shudders. I got the way too philosophical Pandora's Box story that night, after I stopped throwing up. Thanks for commenting.

Kass said...

Love your writing. Got here because of your great comment on Sherry's latest post.

The matchstick scary roller coaster at Saltair blew over and tumbled into the Great Salt Lake the day after I rode it as a child. I always thought it swayed side to side too much as I rode it. This is a great line of yours, "...{the roller coaster never} gave any indication of having been scrupulously maintained." - It brought back this memory for me.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Welcome. I have goosebumps from your recollection - the coaster that actually flew into the water, just the day after you'd ridden it. A small, an yet insistent, voice is saying, "I told you so." I can only hope it wasn't an enormous tragedy. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

grrl + dog said...

seems like every area has its run down amusement parks..

we had one too, a fire that burned it down...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - Our older parks, of which there were many along the Southern California coast, burned, at least in part, everything made of wood and, it appears, paper mache.

Marylinn Kelly said...

A reply I wrote Monday night did not appear...this is close to what it said.

Denise - I think all of the amusement parks on the Southern California coast burned at some time, some beyond repair. From the photos, the earliest ones seemed to be mostly wood and paper mache.