by cheri block
Nineteen days after my 10th birthday, I hunkered down in our darkish den to watch the Twilight Zone. With me, were my eight-year-old brother Stevie and my four-year-old sister, Cindy. My mother had just given birth to Jimmie, eleven days earlier. She was somewhere in the house crying.
Had she not been postpartum, I’m sure she would not have allowed the three of us to watch such a scary show.
I have Jimmie’s birth, then, to blame for my concerns about the reliability of machinery.
That night in 1960, I remember settling into a frumpy faux-leather sofa with scratchy pillows and a throw, covered with dog hair, wedged down between the cushions. My younger siblings and I sat on that Gas Chamber-green sofa with our two German Shepherds, Dickens and Galaxy. At least we had protection.
That night, the episode, titled A Thing About Machines, scared the holy crap out of all three of us. When Mr. Finchley’s appliances turned against him and began to attack , I remember telling Stevie, “ Don’t ever put your hand into a garbage disposal again!”
Eventually, Finchley’s razor slides down the bannister and Finchley bolts. His car chases him into a pool where he drowns. He had, however, consumed alcohol.
Taking my bath that night, I remember wondering if the drain would suck me down with the water. And then there was the hair dryer. It all was too much for a little girl with a prodigious imagination.
My teenage years gave me little relief from those memories. I wondered if the chair lift at Tahoe Ski Bowl would suddenly rebel against its keepers and fling my brother and me down onto the tops of Douglas fir trees. Would my family motor boat, the SIX BLOX, circle around like a shark, while I was waiting to be picked up after falling on my water skis, and then run over me, shredding me like lettuce? Would my Willy’s 44 Army Jeep make a disobedient left turn and head up to frigid Quail Lake despite my braking?
I am happy to report to you, my readers, that now that I am a big girl, I rarely think about machines going rogue. Oh sure, every now and then in the BART tube under the Bay, I push away distant memories of that particular Twilight Zone Episode.
But, curiously, yesterday, I found myself transmogrified into the body of a Yellow Labrador Retriever.
It started when I turned on the vacuum.