"Oh yeah? 'Well I'm four!" are some of the earliest words I remember speaking. Rather, yelling. I was shouting at a couple of toddlers in the neighborhood on summer evening when my shadow looked tall on the pavement. I gave those twerps the business.
My friend Corey Nenno was also four, and she lived across the street. One day when I was getting on my mother's nerves, I went over to play. It was a crisp fall afternoon around Halloween and the Nennos had their decorations up. The paper jointed skeleton on their front door didn't phase me from afar, but when I got to their driveway, I was frozen with fear. I literally couldn't make my way to the vestibule it scared me so. I knew it wasn't a real skeleton, but yet, there it was: menacing, adult-sized, spooky and skeletony. I backed away slowly for a few steps and then sprinted to the safety of my front yard to think.
Wait, could it be real? No. Was it moving? No. It's not real. It's made of paper for Chrissakes. I saw the paper. I even saw the glow in the dark paint on it which isn't glowing because it's the middle of the day. You can't go back into the house and tell Mom about this, it's absurd. Babies are scared of this stuff. You know better. You're not a baby. You're 4 years old! It's not real. Get it together, Altman!
I bolstered myself and started back across the street toward Mr. Skeleton to see Corey. The whole time, I said to myself, "It's not real. It's not real. It's daytime, that thing isn't going to kill you right now. You know this. It's not real. It's not real. It's not real. Ring the doorbell. Ring the doorbell. Ring it. RING IT. RING IT!"
Squinting, I ran up the steps and quickly jabbed the doorbell and jumped back down the steps, giving Mr. Skelton a wide birth just in case he felt like jumping off the door to murder me. Seconds later, Corey's Dad answered, all warm and cheerful, with Corey right behind him.
Mr. Skeleton, you can't hurt me.