I’m a weirdo. I’m not really embarrassed by this, nor do I think it’s something I should be embarrassed by. I like gloomy things — Burton, horror movies, Halloween, crushed velvet — and I enjoy darker subjects when making words (Bloody Mary, the apocalypse, homicidal vampires anyone?) Part of this is a sign of severe mental distortion, part of it is my imagination running wild with “what’s more thought provoking than THE THING THAT LIVES UNDER MY BED.”
A good majority of it, though? My grandmother’s “alternative parenting methods.” What do I mean by that? So glad you asked.
When my grandmother’s children misbehaved, instead of beating them to death or selling them by the pound to the butcher (and after hearing the stories of what my Uncle Michael pulled, I’m not sure he should have survived his formative years) she decided to use writer hijinks to parent. A creative mind is a terrible thing to waste, apparently. West Bridgewater had this one particular house that was sequestered away from everything else; it was big and sort of creepy looking, your typical “SHIT! DON’T TRICK OR TREAT THERE OR SHE’LL GIVE YOU RAZOR BLADE CANDY” type of place. In it lived Mrs. Boggs, whose unfortunate name evoked images of bodies gurgling up from swampy depths. When Gram got fed up with her kids and — twenty or thirty years later — me, she threatened to drop them/us off at Mrs. Boggs’ house FOREVER if we didn’t cease and desist our childhood bullshit. This was followed up by stories of Mrs. Boggs putting children in cages and inflicting various tortures upon them before she ATE THEIR FLESH BECAUSE MRS. BOGGS WAS A WITCH AND A HOMICIDAL MANIAC AND A CANNIBAL.
Right now, it sounds like a HARR-HARR HILLARY GRANDMA PERSON, YOU’RE A REAL MEANY-HEAD. Back then?
Fucking terrified, people. Mrs. Boggs became the stuff of nightmares to my five-year-old mind. Gram used to embellish with a few gorey details she liked to throw into the mix, too, so her Mrs. Boggs stories always made it sound like /that house was worse than Hell itself/, so I better stop dicking around or I’d find myself locked in Mrs. Boggs’ basement. Gram could have put me on time out, or she could have slapped my hand or yelled at me, but why bother when she had Mrs. Boggs in her back pocket? And man, she loved to play that card. The funny part of the story NOW is that apparently, Mrs. Boggs was a real person and by my grandmother’s account? A completely lovely lady who happened to have a spooky house and a crap name. She loved children, and not, like, to eat. Just because she was nice.
I wonder what she would have thought of Dot’s SLANDEROUS WAYS.
I know some people out there would probably hear this story and instead of seeing the HA HA factor, they’d think it’s AN AWFUL THING TO DO TO YOUR KIDS. Lighten up. Truth be told if I ever have spawn I might threaten them with Mrs. Boggs, too (I can tell you from personal experience that a slow drive by the creepy house and a warning of stopping the car? Heart stopping. Your kids will not only cease being peckerheads, they’ll wash your car and volunteer to work in a Taiwanese shoe factory.) And really, what else could you expect from my grandmother? This was the lady that — when I freaked out about getting into the tub after seeing a made for TV movie about sewer alligators eating people — came in and killed the alligators with a flyswatter, beating the crap out of the walls and the faucet and the tub until all the alligators were “dead.”
It wasn’t conventional parenting by any stretch of the imagination, but it got shit done.