We all outgrow our early fear of darkened bedrooms and hidden boogeymen, but the absurd childhood anxieties described in The Monster Resembled a Pineapple are not so easily forgotten. Get ready for one man’s droll recollections of window ghouls, lurkers, peeping Toms, hostile toys, obstinate roosters, slice-off-your-nose madmen, grim neighbors, and frightening entities like The Potato Chip Man. This memoir takes a humorous look at irrational fear, but it is definitely not for the fainthearted. Unexpected twists and turns await on this shaky journey of self-discovery. Connections and insights are formed along the way. What does it mean to be afraid in the modern world, and what are the consequences? The answers come step by nervous step. Anyone who has ever felt uneasy in the dark will surely be drawn to this distinct and absorbing account.
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My chief talent isn’t writing, it’s being afraid.
As a kid, I freaked out about spontaneous human combustion, killer bees, and the prospect of a bathtub shark attack. And the 3,600 miles between me and the Loch Ness Monster wasn’t nearly enough.
All of this youthful anxiety runs wild in my screenplays. Blame the neighborhood weirdo kid for setting me on this path. When I was six, he predicted that our neighborhood would be attacked by window ghouls. These ghouls supposedly would claw into our rooms and devour us all. Only those blessed with large dogs would survive, he said, because window ghouls hated them.
Two nights later, I imagined the ghouls at my window, clawing the screen. At this point, I dimly recalled the dog footnote, and made a haphazard survival attempt. Our family owned an 11-inch tall poodle named Doobie, who was talented only at peeing and free-form humping. He nocturnally whizzed on my toys, turning them acrid and tacky. His humps involved the nearest human leg. Doobie wasn’t the best candidate to ward off the ghouls, but he was, by definition, “a dog” and the last recourse. Into the night I called his name. C’mon Doobie. But he never responded. Either he was romancing my G.I. Joe or watering him down.
Sometimes it takes a man to do a dog’s work, so that’s what I did. I inched to the window and…barked—a stream of unconvincing arfs and growls.
This awakened my mother, a wonderful woman, but not somebody who tolerated nonsense. She told me to knock off the crap. So I did. As it turned out, the scratching window ghouls were just the shade rubbing against the screen. But the weird ideas never stopped, and here we are.
In addition to the Monster Resembled a Pineapple, I have written two screenplays: With Monsters and Pencil Fight. Both have reached the finals in various screenplay competitions.