“The male mice’s testicles were no longer pink.”

My cat has been having trouble with his eyes, so he’s made several visits to the vet in recent weeks. Vet visits are an in and out proposition, but this time Nate was with us, so I minded him while Mike consulted with the vet. Having a little more time to spend in the waiting room, I picked up a copy of Tails (“celebrating the relationship between pets and their people.”). Thank goodness I did, because when I reached the back cover I saw this giant scoop of mindfuck. It’s a dog food ad. I say this because its ultimate purpose appears to be selling dog food. Unlike Purina, however, these folks aren’t just selling dog food, they’re selling… Well, I’ll let you find out.

Post No Bills?

While shopping for art for our home, I came across an interesting feature on AllPosters.com that allows you to view your future purchases in the proper context, be it the kitchen, living room, or boudoir. The settings are studiously bland—tastefully appointed with shabby chic or Ikea-like furniture, decorative and wholly unrelated books and magazines, and sundry knickknacks your great grandma would probably find kitschy. All of which leads to the semi-hilarity of viewing certain posters as the focal point of these domestic and dominantly beige scenes.

“Oh, I love what you’ve done with the breakfast nook, Kathy! Ah, you went with an Detroit Proto-punk motif! Divine!”

“My god, this is the longest dry spell of my life! Why can’t I get anyone to stay the night?”

“What? Why aren’t you eating? I made this delicious dinner and… Oh… that? Well, just stop looking at it and eat your ham. Do you want to switch seats? There we go. Okay… You know, I used a little more sage for the potatoes, which really brings out the… Oh come on… So, it’s my fault you’re looking over your shoulder? What? Oh for the love of… BECAUSE IT WAS A GIFT FROM MY MOTHER, THAT’S WHY!”

Revelation 16

3And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

4And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

5And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.


Welcome to Nate’s Nightmare

Nate awoke last night at 12 Midnight. He’s a good sleeper, and for the past year, with a few exceptions, he’s stayed out cold, all night from the moment his head hit the pillow (side note: it wasn’t until this week that we bought him his first pillow). When Nate does emerge from his nightly coma, he follows a set pattern of snapping awake between 12 and 12:30 a.m. I don’t know why. Sometimes he wakes up because his diaper fails to contain the day’s liquid’s and solids, but the 12’ish wake-up time—always accompanied by a few whines and groans followed by crying and howlings of “MY MOMMA! MY DADDY!”—makes me think that he’s entered REM sleep, which I suspect occasionally brings bad dreams.

Last night he woke up because he had a pantsload irritating his poor bum. Oog, I hate to run parental bitching stories, but that was a nightmare for both Daddy and Mommy. When I realized there’d been a breach, I tried to remove Nate’s onesie to change him. He went apeshit, twirling like Linda Blair, screaming his head off. What made it stranger was that he still seemed to be asleep. I’ve gotten pretty good at baby-wrangling, but Nate was like a whirling, shrieking dervish. Mike soon joined me, and we managed to get his pajamas and (hugely) soiled diaper off and new diaper on. Almost immediately, Nate’s hulk-out ceased, and he chose to snuggle with Mike, falling asleep very soon in her arms. Now THAT’S the sweet little guy we’re used to.

The nightmare nights—and they are very few—are weird. Nate wakes up, sometimes crying (no tears, just howls), but often looking up at a part of the ceiling or the window with concern. I must have a better memory for my childhood nightmares than I ever realized, because I’m pretty good at figuring out, through questions and observation, what’s frightening him. Peculiarly, he’s managed to give ME the heebie-jeebies on occasion.


Hello, Nightmare Fuel

For instance, a Hello Kitty fan is only cute in the daytime. When it’s underlit by a baby monitor in a darkened room, however, she’s freakish and demonic. One night, Nate woke up, not crying but rather shouting “GO ‘WAY! GO ‘WAY!” When I entered the room and picked him up, I noticed he was eyeing his Kitty fan suspiciously. I tried to see the fan through the eyes of a toddler, and beheld a large blobular face with cold black eyes, and thought, “Jesus God, that thing IS terrifying.” I turned on the light and explained to Nate that it was only Kitty, and Kitty would never hurt him (severely pelt him with marketing strategy, yes, but not hurt him). Nate calmed down, though he wouldn’t let Kitty out of his sight. I banished Kitty to the floor, where she wasn’t illuminated like Michael Myers, and Nate soon said he was ready to return to the crib.

Other nights Nate has claimed to be frightened of beetles and spiders. A day or so earlier, we were looking at nature videos of Goliath beetles and tarantulas on YouTube (among other animals—I’m not raising Nate as a Goth). He seemed fine and fascinated with the videos, so I didn’t think anything of it until I heard him yelling “BUGS! BUGS! BUGS!” When I gathered him up he immediately informed me that he didn’t like “the beetles.” I share blame for this one, I think, with his day care teachers who showed him a beetle one day. Nowadays, Nate will express concern about spiders, but the beetle fear has faded, apparently. Again, I turned on the lights and talked things through with him, explaining that beetles aren’t dangerous and there were none in his room. Moreover, spiders were our friends because… well, I didn’t tell him they ate other, nastier bugs. I just assured him that the spiders weren’t gunning for him.


Why would such a charming creature disturb anyone?

One of Nate’s more confusing freak-outs (and let me again stress that he’s not a fearful child by any means) involve two characters from his favorite video series: Shaun the Sheep. Shaun the Sheep is made by the same folks behind Wallace and Gromit, and consequently it contains plenty of gentle entertainment for Nate while retaining enough adult humor to keep Momma and Daddy from blowing out their brains through pure boredom. Generally, Nate LOVES Shaun the Sheep… until the bull or “naughty pigs” show up.


I want your soul. I will eat your soul.

The bull I get. He’s a loud, snorting, wild-eyed creature that scares the living shit out of Shaun and his buddies. His angry first appearance on the show was similar in effect to Glen Benton suddenly fronting the animatronic band at a Chuck E. Cheese.


Snort. Moo.

The pigs make less sense to me. Sure, they’re pink and amorphous, and one episode had them pulling spooky pranks on the sheep, but they’re never really evil or threatening. Maybe they just seem large and bullying to Nate. Where it gets weird is that, for God knows what reason, Nate calls the pigs ghosts. He knows what a pig is, and he’s not afraid of the pigs at the zoo (even though they utter squeals that sound, to Daddy, like a dolphin’s soul is being raped), or the ones in his toy farm. The Shaun the Sheep pigs though? They’re Ghost Pigs. Once again, Nate’s knack for wordplay and visual imagery gives me the shivers. Ghost. Pig. That takes me back to Amityville Horror, where a ridiculous special effect called Jodie the Pig caused me more nightmares than it should have.


Then again… Maybe Nate is onto something.

Nate’s single most inexplicable and disturbing nightmare image wasn’t a nightmare for him. Not too long ago, he kept referring to “man crying and holding pillow.” This didn’t seem to bother him, which surprises me not at all. Nate, like many toddlers, doesn’t fully comprehend the world around him yet. He’s still learning the subtleties of facial expressions. He’s pointed at pictures of people laughing and told me they were crying, for instance, because they were squinting their eyes. The word “crying” throws him too. While reading to him I’ve had to explain the difference between someone crying out and someone crying because they’re sad. Wait till he has to figure out all 72 definitions of the word “set.”

But still… “man crying and holding pillow.”


I want to re-enact that image in a photo, black and white and grainy, just so I can have something that can reliably give me the shivers, should I ever write something scary. “Man crying and holding pillow.” The homicidal, suicidal, mythological, parapsychological overtones wash over me like ice water.


The above picture is one of the first media images that came to mind when Nate first described the crying pillow man. No, I’ve never  let him see Ringu—I’m not a psychopath–but it comes close to providing the same feeling. The existence of playwright Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman unsettles me even further. I don’t believe Nate’s been visiting the theater district though.

And there are pillow men I certainly hope he never hears about.