I was forcefully reminded the other day of a severely traumatizing childhood experience.
Seeing my mother--my own mother--putting Vitamin B12 drops into her tea or water or whatever strange concoction she had brewing caused me to have flashbacks of a disturbing nature. Small children with fear on their faces. A house in the dead of night. Shrieking. My grandmother jumping on the sofa. That last one was the kicker.
"What is THAT?" I asked. Don't doubt that my nose was already screwed up in anticipatory dislike. Droppers are weird.
"Oh, it's Vitamin B12," my parent said to me.
"No!" I screamed. "Don't do it!"
"What?!" said the poor woman.
"Stop!" I said. "That's VITAMIN B12! Don't you KNOW?"
"Um," she said.
"That's what made Marnie jump up and down!" I yelled.
"Oh..." she said. Comprehension is a liberal substance. It spreads like Elmer's and lights up the visage. It lit up my mother's now.
"WHAT made Marnie jump up and down?" asked Virginia, coming into the room at a bad time, as usual.
And so I told the story.
In the way of background for those members of my readership who aren't my sister (or my mother, for that matter), my cousins and I used to go to Marnie's house for Vacation Bible School every summer. We stayed for a week, went to said VBS, got homesick, ate Spaghettio's and Cocoa Puffs, fought over the colors of our dishes (which all had straws attached), went to the beach (Marnie lived across the street from Myrtle Beach), memorized Bible verses in exchange for candy and fame, watched The Stupids over and over and over again, and generally had a rollicking good time. We also frequently fell over backwards in the bar chairs ("Don't lean!" Marnie said, and we did. "You'll fall!" Marnie said, and we did. "I told you so," Marnie said, and she had.), and I was so scared of the painting on the wall--which, I'll admit, still sort of worries me--that Marnie had to cover it with a blanket. But most of this is beside the point.
The point is that we were there, at Marnie's house, for VBS. When we were very small, only Charlie and Josh and I would go. Charlie and Josh representing the Uncle Mike side of the family, I representing the Uncle David (aka Daddy) side. As Jesse and Virginia got older they were added to the collection, as was Cousin Bryant to represent the Aunt Andrea division. As Charlie and Josh had no other siblings, they had to make do with themselves.
Another exciting thing to do at Marnie's was to watch her take her vitamins. This was a Big Deal, because Marnie had many, many vitamins. Some people collect China. Some people collect hats. Some people just collect Chinese (ok, kidding). Marnie, apparently, collected vitamins. The most exciting part of the morning--possibly excluding Cocoa Puffs, but I doubt it--was watching Marnie fill her entire hand up with vitamins and take them all at once. We're talking ten or fifteen at once, I'm guessing. I think if someone tried to do that now I would be ready and waiting to do the Heimlich, but I was too small to do the Heimlich then, and I also didn't know what it was, so it's a good thing Marnie didn't die. We used to cheer her on with shouts of, "More! More!" until she insisted that she couldn't possibly do any more at once.
One night after Virginia was safely in bed upstairs (I don't remember if Jesse was there this particular summer, which was nine or ten years ago. I don't remember him, so he might have been at camp, but I'm too lazy to get up and find out.) Charlie and Josh and I were watching Marnie take her evening vitamins. This wasn't usually as exciting as the morning vitamins, I think because she didn't have nearly as many, but we watched anyway. This evening she took out a little bottle that we had never seen before.
"What's that?" we asked. Probably in chorus.
"It's vitamin B12," said Marnie. "It gives me LOTS of energy. You'd better watch out; I might go crazy!"
"Ha ha," we said. "It does not!" O, foolish words!
"It does!" said Marnie. "I just put some in my nose like this"--she put a bright red drop in each nostril--"and sniff"--she sniffed--"and in a few minutes I'll be FULL of energy!"
We were disbelieving in our youthful naivete, but never a trio to turn down even a hint of entertainment, we waited. Soon Marnie started bouncing, then hopping, then she was racing around the living room giggling at the top of her lungs.
"Ok!" she shrieked. "Hehe! I'm going to bed! Hehe! Goodnight!"
And she hopped off to bed.
We stared at each other in horror.
"Was that... was that real??" we asked each other.
Charlie said he didn't think it was real, but... it sure looked real.
"Whoops!" said Marnie, hopping out of her bedroom like a rabbit on crack. "Forgot this! Hehe! Goodnight!" And she jumped down the length of the sofa, grabbed whatever she had forgotten from the table, whizzed past us, and slammed her bedroom door in excitement.
"That was scary! I'm goin' to bed!" And we all raced up the stairs together, each trying to get away from downstairs as fast as possible.
I don't exactly remember what happened the next morning. I think we timidly asked Marnie if she was feeling ok last night, and she assured us she didn't remember anything out of the ordiary.
Our old friend, Comprehension, now dawned on Virginia's face.
"Was THAT what that was?" she said incredulously. "I remember hearing some shrieking and banging, but I didn't know what it was."
"That's what that was. It was SCARY," I said, shivering. "Mommy, don't take that stuff!"
"But that wasn't real!" said Mommy.
"Well, I know," I said. "But we didn't know that at the time. We sort of didn't think it was, but we weren't sure, and it was SCARY. THAT'S what matters."
"Come on, she was just playing with y'all!"
"Well I know that NOW, but we didn't THEN," I said.
And then she took the stuff.
I am scarred for life.