So, I read early. As in incredibly, vastly, hugely early. I also read voraciously. Both my parents are readers and I never knew a world where books weren’t important, wonderful, magical things.
Mother would take me to the library once a week and check out an entire shelf at a time. By the time I was six or so, I’d read the entire children’s section and Mother started me on the non-fiction section, which was amazing. I learned about World War II, antique dolls, airplanes, the Beatles, large cats, gardening, wound care — anything was fair game as long as it was a book.
Once I finished my books for the week, though, I started on Moma’s books.
Mother loves horror novels. John Saul, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, Whitley Strieber, Peter Benchley, James Herbert, Robin Cook — you name it, she read them and I snuck them.
The problem (besides the nightmares which I couldn’t go to her with because she told me not to read her books — instead of waking her up I used to crawl underneath the headboard of their waterbed and sleep because THAT’S not creepy O.o) was that I would come up with words I couldn’t possibly understand and bring them to her.
“Moma, what does exsanguinate mean?"
“Moma, what does vernacular mean?"
“Moma, what does immolation mean?
“Moma, what does moue mean?"
“Moma, how do you say p-e-c-u-l-i-a-r?"
“Moma, what is masturbation?"
I remember that last one, mostly because of the look on Mother’s face — she wasn’t horrified, exactly, more utterly confused. I still remember her answer, clear as day.
“Well, baby, it means to touch yourself on your privates. Where did you read that word?"
I brought her the book (for once I wasn’t sneaking it) that I’d pulled from my 2nd grade teacher’s library. Hell House by Matheson. “It’s in here. This book is good!"
She looked, sighed, and said, “Can I trade you that book for “Little Women”, just for today?"
“But Moma! It’s scary!"
She just looked at me in that, I will smother you in your sleep if you don’t just give in child way, so I agreed and I can only imagine the discussion the teacher had with her.
Still love that book...