It’s not often I like to talk about the dark days of my childhood.
People always say that the writers that are genuinely famous and genuinely talented have had heartbreaking childhoods with abuse and poverty and broken families… That if you grew up in an affluent part of Anytown, U.S.A., that you can never truly write engaging stories if all your experience lies in happy times. That family dinners and trips to the amusement park and hugs and bountiful holiday seasons will only allow you to write for shows like 7th Heaven.
Not that there’s anything wrong with 7th Heaven.
Unfortunately for me, and fortunately for me, there were some dark times for me when I was about the age of 10. Around that time, both my parents were working and I often arrived at home after school with no parental supervision whatsoever. I was left to my own devices to horrific results.
Let me just say first that there was no addiction in my family whatsoever, except for a huge gambling problem across the board. There was no alcoholism and no strung-out drug addictions, either. My family was the perfect, healthy nuclear family. And all was good until I got into the medicine cabinet.
There, at the top shelf, easily accessible via a step ladder was a white plastic bottle with easy to crack, childproof top. Filled with multi-colored pills that were to be pursed out one-at-a-time. But on that dark gloomy afternoon, I wasn’t concerned with will power. Hell, I was ten years old.
I cracked open that bottle of Flintstones Chewable Vitamins like a kid strung out on coke. And man, were they damn good.
I ate about thirty vitamins that day, using them to play out stories I had already seen on the animated television show based on the vitamins. Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty, Bam Bam and Pebbles. These two went out bowling…gobble, gobble. These two got in trouble from their wives for spending all night at the Moose Lodge…gobble, gobble. Brontosaurus burgers, Rock Hudson, feet on the freeway…gobble, gobble, gobble…
There was more sugar speeding through my ten-year old veins than ever before.
The Flintstone Vitamin addiction continued for six months after that infamous day. Although my parents thought there was something strange going on with the rapidly disappearing vitamins, I always seemed to be able to alleviate their fears by telling stories of spilt bottles and water glasses. And each time the parents were away, Fred & Me would play.
One of my sugar fits where I tried to see how fast I could run around in circles without throwing up was interrupted by an early afternoon arriving mother. She spied me, sweat beads on my forehead, spied the empty bottle of vitamins on the counter, and looked into my eyes.
The indentations of her nails in my arm as she whisked me up the stairs to my bedroom and threw me inside made an impression I will never forget.
It was my only dark moment in my childhood, and I will continue to use it to fuel my tortured and depressing writing from this day forward.