Funny, because I'm not really nervous as an adult. Yet, there are two occasions in my childhood—of the highest order nervousness—that I recall.
|You really couldn't see for|
sh-t, remember that?
In my hometown, Halloween was tightly controlled. First, the town's fire alarms went off promptly at 6:00. As soon as the sirens stopped, everyone ran from their own porch and up onto others' porches to beg for candy.
On the stroke of 7:00, the sirens went off again and you had to be back on your own porch by the time they stopped. That hour was the hour for trick-or-treat. Even if you tried to start early or stay out, no dice because no one in that town was going to give one treat. They knew the rules, too.
About a week before Halloween, I would start having nightmares. They were always the same. I would dream that I was trying, trying, to get that year's costume on but I couldn't quite manage it. And then I heard the siren go off!! So I started frantically pulling at the leggings or whatever was holding me up. And I was crying and then the end siren went off! I collapsed in exhaustion and heartbreak.
I never did miss out on the real trick-or-treat. I was usually ready and on the porch an hour before they set off the siren. Still, the dreams went on every year, until I got too old to trick-or-treat.
When I was in, oh, maybe second grade, we had a canned goods drive at school. Everyone was supposed to bring in something in a can from home for poor people to eat. My mom gave me two cans of blackberry filling. As I lugged them to school, I was puzzled. Did the poor people make pies, or just eat the filling right out of the can? I would eat the filling right out of the can, myself. Yum.
Well, somehow I missed putting the cans in the big boxes that were in class that day. I don't know how. I was easily distracted. I often listened to my head and not my teacher. Regardless, toward the end of the day, some men came for the boxes and I realized I still had the blackberry pie filling—two cans! I waited until we all got up to leave and... I surreptitiously drew the bag with the cans out of my school bag and flung them into the back of the desk well on top of some papers wadded up there.
I spent the rest of the school year protecting my canned goods from others' knowledge. I don't know what I thought was going to happen to me if I was found out, but I would suffer and sweat and breathe unevenly when they made us clean out our desks. With deft moves borne of desperation, I switched the cans to my school bag, then back to my desk. I was afraid to take the cans back home, too! It was all getting worse, so much so that I was thinking about it at night as I lie in bed. It was pathological anxiety.
Then one day, in class, I saw my chance. We were cleaning our desks again (god, what were we, pigs?) and I had the trash can to myself. No one could see my hands.... I yanked out canned tell-tale hearts and buried them in the basket! I made sure everything was well covered. And I realized... I was free!
Yeah, I guess you could call me a nervous child.
Remember when it looked like this? All sepia-toned?