Reading large chunks of the encyclopedia
on a nightly basis can really skew
a kid's brain. I remember the encyclopedia phases I went through... First mythology
, then (in order) the human body, medieval
Europe, all things botanical, paleontology
, microscopic organisms
... and then poets. Poets are weird people. Real weird people.
All the good ones either get wasting diseases or kill themselves.
When I was seven years old, I decided that consumption was the way to go. I planned to somehow contract tuberculosis at the age of sixteen, be shipped off to Switzerland, and live with a bunch of young, lily-white, dying poets. I pictured myself seated outdoors on a chaise lounge in Lucerne, dressed head-to-toe in white linen, my hair long and black and silky. Next to me was my beautiful golden-haired lover, a pasty Adonis whose metaphors brought tears to my eyes. In my mind we sat hand in hand, contemplating the gorgeous countryside and our impending deaths. Occasionally we would cough, turn our heads, and discreetly spit blood into stiffly starched white handkerchiefs.
As I lay on my deathbed he rhapsodized about how I would never grow old; my body would die before my mind would. My beauty would never wilt. Soon after he would join me.
Later I decided that being a poet would be no fun. I'd have to be depressed and pale and dead if anyone was going to read what I wrote. I would be a race car driver instead.
But now, when I occasionally sit around wearing all black, pretending I am some kind of Lenore-esque chick, I blame those encyclopedias.