What follows is part 4 of a true story of a girl (me) and her on-going battle with addiction.
My father believed that television sets should be like Americans: huge. I can’t recall what the screen dimensions were, but I remember it seemed enormous. Then again, I was very small.
I remember the furniture in the living room was arranged so that the television was the focal point. Every seat was angled in such a way that we would all get a good view of the set. For the greater part, this was an ideal setting. The only time this caused a serious problem was during the occasional prime time viewing of Hollywood Squares.
For some reason, I was extremely disturbed by the presence of Wayland Flowers, and more particularly his puppet Madame. The wicked looking Madame was considered to be quite a wit. Perhaps this was true. I don’t know. You see, every time she appeared on the screen I would scream in terror. It was a combination of her skull-like features and extra large nostrils that sent me into conniptions. Seeing her was torture; I did not know what I had done to deserve such agony.
Madame would arrive in my world completely unannounced. There I would be, lying calmly with my head resting on my mom’s leg when this witch of a puppet cackled her way into my line of sight. Everywhere I turned, her evil eyes and giant chin seemed to follow me. I knew that if I didn’t escape, she would bonk me across the temple with her grotesque head, and then chew off my fingers. That’s right. She nosh on my digits like they were 98° vienna sausages, with Mr. Flowers holding the jar of mustard. Rather than soothe my 5-year old soul, my parents would laugh at my discomfiture. Or perhaps it was howling. Who could recall such details?
My only recourse was to cover my ears while screaming bloody murder and run upstairs to my dear grandmother’s room. There, I would be reassured that no matter how much she seemed to want to, the carnivorous Madame could not climb out of the set.
The following morning, I needed to be certain that Madame was no longer infecting my airspace. I would walk past the television, double back, quickly turn the knob, and dive behind the couch. If she couldn’t see me, she couldn’t see my delicious fingers. Thankfully, her cackle was not for the morning. She was probably off terrorizing another little girl.
Or perhaps working off a hang-over.
continued in part 5…