Every Christmas: "What do you want for Christmas?"
"We live in an apartment."
"A Shetland pony."
And every Christmas I was disappointed. I read animal books endlessly. I still have a small library of Reader's Digest animal books with big glossy pictures. I read "Black Beauty" and "Charlotte's Web" over and over and over again and I would cry in the same places every time. I read "My Friend Flicka" slightly less, finding the male protagonist harder to identify with, but I still read it multiple times. I read "The Black Stallion" books, too. All of this between the Trixie Belden mystery series and a lot of Archie comic books. I went into dork training at a very young age.
I thought I wanted to be a vet when I was little, but my mother always told me that it was too hard to get into vet school and that I wasn't smart enough to do the math and science parts. Thanks, mom!! I might have been smarter if you had realized that I couldn't read in third grade because I needed fucking GLASSES, not because I was brain damaged!
The animal book that scarred me for life, however, was called "Wild Animals I Have Known," published in the 1800s by some dude named Seton. This horrible, awful, heart-wrenching book is still in print for those of you who are parents and want to punish your soft-hearted children for the sin of having feelings and emotions. I was given this book by a well meaning adult who didn't bother to read it before giving it to me.
I read the whole thing, cover to cover, multiple times. I cried so hard my throat cramped shut at the end of each story. All of the stories were about animals (although at least one is about a dog, so that Seton moron clearly didn't know what "wild" means) that were cruelly killed by humans, either with a gun or a snare or a club. After introducing us to these clever, appealing creatures and telling us tales of their cleverness and cunning, Seton would add on a paragraph or two about the horrible, painful, awful death these animals suffered. I think I was given this book when I was 8 or 9. Eight! Or! Nine! years old!! My mother eventually begged me to stop reading it because every time I did, I would turn into a quivering pile of snot. I would insist on sleeping with the family pet(s) in order to keep them out of traps and snares. I still have my old copies of the Reader's Digest books and Charlotte's Web and Black Beauty, but I finally got rid of "Wild Animals I Have Known." If you don't like your kids, you now have the perfect gift suggestion for them.3 comments so far