Friday, September 01, 2006

And Every Word is True

I've been tagged for the first time, by Searchie of all people, whom I'd thought was my friend. Well, you never know.

Because of the well-authenticated supernatural consequences of failing to follow through when tagged, I reluctantly offer the following.

1. One book that changed your life

Perfectly Ghastly Ways You Can Die From Utterly Normal Sexual Activities, Illustrated (1954), by Felix Grebbin Nichtveldt, Ph.D.

Found this in the house we'd just moved into, well-thumbed, with illegible annotations in fountain pen, many with exclamation points and arrows, smelling of mold, and terribly stained. I had to sound out many of the words, and didn't understand many of them, and I thought the narrative pace sadly lacking -- until I stumbled on the photographs, underneath each of which was a simple yet effective warning.

A few days later, after the nausea and fever subsided, my parents, unaware of the book, decided to give me the first of what was to prove to be a great many (and constantly evolving, with contradictions ignored) explanations of "where babies come from." I knew better, and at what cost. I never believed anything they told me again.

Subsequently, I lived in the cellar for six months and wouldn't emerge despite entreaties and threats, and even bribes. It was "a phase," they decided, and I had finally to leave to attend first grade.

Although my disquiet at the world I now found myself in diminished somewhat after a few years, my anxieties were provoked anew at the onset of puberty, which was decidedly something I'd hoped to avoid. This was real trouble, I knew.

From then on, I based my entire life around the avoidance of any sort of sensual invitation to lasting torment, for the most part effectively, as I am still alive, and the worst symptoms have passed me by. Unlike others I could mention.

I guess you could say this book changed my life. I've tried to find another copy in the years since, and it's not even listed in the Library of Congress, nor, despite vast research, have I been able to find any reference to it anywhere. This is passing strange.

2. One book you have read more than once

The House at P-- oh, all right. The Nichtveldt book. A few dozen times, truth to tell.

3. One book you would want on a desert island

The Nichtveldt book, definitely.

4. One book that made you laugh

Love and Sex in Plain Language (1964.)

5. One book that made you cry

Oh, The Nichtveldt book. For six months in the cellar. To start with.

6. One book you wish you had written

Satan, Pain, and the Universal Order: A Ritual Inquest, Anonymous (1957.) From stylistic clues and internal evidence, I infer that the author was F.G. Nichtveldt, although parts may have been written by his then-mistress, Lola Fahrenheit, horribly murdered by persons unknown in 1959.

7. One book you wish had never been written

The Joy of Sex.

8. One book you are currently reading

Kama Sutra/Necronomikon: Hidden Convergences, by Ford Gaskin Nightfall, Ph.D.

9. One book you have been meaning to read (AKA The Omnivore’s Dilemma)

Panties in Love, a novel by Fahrenheit Gustav Naughtliffe.

10. Now tag five people.

I don't know five people.