It’s common knowledge that my memory goes back further than it probably should. I maintain that my earliest memory is of me pooping in my diaper. But I digress, I thought about when I was really young and there were certain things I would see on t.v. that disturbed me deeply. Perhaps my mind could not yet refine the facial expressions of people to understand that it was a joke, but there are two very vivid examples:
1. That part at the end of the Whitney Houston video, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” when she’s dragging the guy around trying to get him to dance with her (4:45).
I remember being really really freaked out by what I was seeing, like I was watching a snuff film. Even afterwards I couldn’t get the images out of my mind and even exaggerated them a good deal I realized, once I saw the video again years later.
2. That skit of Smokey Robinson on Sesame Street singing “You Really Got a Hold On Me” and the big giant U comes out and starts forcibly accosting him. I was tortured by that, positively tortured. Yet I couldn’t turn away. I couldn’t believe it was on t.v. It just scared the hell out of me.
The common thread in these two traumatic visual moments was men in pretend trouble. Maybe it’s that they seemed to be powerless and their abusers had no idea that they were clearly uncomfortable. They were trapped. Of course now, I could watch those things and they would be funny, possibly lame. But at three or four, UN-settling.
My mom tells people when I was little I used to go up to the t.v. and kiss the people on the screen. I vaguely remember this. I remember being the exact height of the tv and looking up close at the individual colors of close up green, blue and red dots. The vague taste of static. I’m a firm believer in the idea that who you were when you were little is the person you spend your entire life trying to get back to. I hold on to this memory of me kissing one of my friends in kindergarten. It must have been the first and last time I ever initiated affection. Kindergarten is incredibly vivid. The chicken incubator, the pudding, the “treats,” the bingo with dried beans, the show and tell, the recipe book, the computer! And of course, the tying together of the shoelaces. I did a lot of bonehead things when I was little.
Oh yeah, and another thing I watched that was a little traumatizing: that “Wet Paint” music video on Sesame Street. uuugggghhhh blaaaaeeccchhhhhh. The song’s pretty awesome though. It got a little kinky at the end though…