I’ve had this desire recently to find some of the old books that I loved as a child, and re-read them. I’m not sure why.
Reading was very important to me when I was growing up. I was always the different one, the smart, weird one in a small Western cow town. No one else read, except for my father. I had my nose in one book or another from kindergarten. I went through a period of reading gothic romances when I was very small…perhaps eight, although I don’t remember. Very young. An older aunt asked my father how he could allow me to read adult books, and he replied “anything she doesn’t understand will pass over her head…anything that she already understands, is too late.”
There have been fictional characters that I have loved more deeply than a lot of real-life people…I suppose that’s sad.
There are so many books that I loved as a child…starting out with the Alice books, The Wind in the Willows, anything of a horror or gothic bent that I could get my hands on, the Narnia books, and so on. As a pre-teen and teenager I was a science fiction nut: Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison. I never cared about meeting famous actors; who I really wanted to meet were Robert Heinlein and Harlan Ellison. Heinlein died before I had a chance to meet him, but I have an amusing story about meeting Ellison:
My chance finally came at a book signing in Los Angeles. I had rehearsed my opening lines, preparing to bowl him over with my intelligence and wit (Harlan Ellison has the reputation for ah…impatience with stupid people). I stood in line, clutching my book in my sweaty little hand, and when I got up to the front of the line, he looked at me and said “You’re very beautiful.”
Total brain-lock. Nothing was coming out, although no doubt my mouth was opening and closing like a well-hooked fish. He talked to me, and turned me instantly into a drooling idiot.
Harlan looked behind him, to where his girlfriend was sitting (very similar to me, actually – long red hair, early twenties) and said “Is it ok to say that?” She said nothing, but fried him with a look.
He signed my book, I stammered thankyou, turned, and crept away in shame. He probably felt sorry for the poor little retarded girl (cute thought she was).
My big moment of glory, my one chance…and I shot myself down in flames.