When I was a kid, I was scared of vampires. The only way I could get to sleep was to tuck in my covers tightly around my neck so vampires couldn't suck my blood. “Take that, stupid vampires!” I’d think to myself, confident that my effort had thwarted their evil plotting.
Of course, now I realize that such tactics would only have worked on stupid vampires, since they have superhuman strength and would hardly be inconvenienced by a tighty-tucked blanket. But I didn’t think of that back then, and to this day I'm still most comfortable sleeping that way.
There are other odd little behaviors that I’m still dragging around from childhood. Like double-knotting my shoelaces. My tennis shoes would never stay tied, despite my best efforts. And un-tied shoes were a definite detriment - not to mention embarrassing - when you’re involved in high-stakes kids' activities like street football or bike riding.
Ever catch a shoelace in your bike sprocket? Not good. Suddenly you’ve got to tell your friends to wait up for you, bringing whatever adventure you were all on to a sudden, screeching halt. Un-cool, man. Plus there’s the inherent shame in your friends knowing that you’re incapable of competently tying your shoes.
But my dad changed all that by one day showing me how to double-knot my laces. Instantly my un-cool, un-tied shoe days were over. I still double-knot all my shoes; even dress shoes, which look especially odd with the lopsided, uneven loops inherent in double-knotting.
Many years later I came across boots with speed-laces, which are metal tabs that you wrap the laces around instead of fishing them through eyelets. It sounded like a good idea, but I found they never really lived up to the promise of their name. They’re a bit tricky to use – I always manage to miss at least one while pulling the laces back and forth across my ankles. If you really want to put on boots quickly, get yourself a pair of those fireman's boots. They have no laces, just loops at the top so you can just pull them straight on: Much faster!
But I don’t wear boots that frequently, even in winter. When I was young I had a pair of those clunky galoshes with the buckles that take forever to get on - but what kid has that kind of patience when there’s snow on the ground? You’d be wasting valuable snowball-throwing time, only to face the ridicules of wearing galoshes, which no kid in the world has ever thought of as cool. So I’d just pull on my already-double-knotted Chuck Taylors and run out the door. Kids don’t worry about hypothermia or other such nonsense when there's fun to be had outdoors.
There are also culinary traits which still linger from my younger days. One of them is an incessant love of gravy. I love gravy! Any time Mom made mashed potatoes and/or stuffing, there was gravy. I’d put gravy on almost anything. And, despite what some people down south may claim, I invented the whole french fries in gravy thing.
I’m still a big gravy fan, but these days it only shows up for big holiday meals. But when Thanksgiving rolls around, we’ll have two kinds of gravy. Leftover turkey means hot turkey sandwiches - covered in gravy, of course.
After I have a big dinner like that, with gravy on practically everything, there’s nothing better than lying down on the couch for a nice nap. I find something on television I’ve seen a thousand times, then lie down and cover up with one of the blankets we keep around to ward off snuggle-weather chills. Naturally I tuck it in tight around my neck.
Then I drift off to sleep with my gravy-warm belly, thinking, “Take that, stupid vampires!”