“In the cold gray tomb, there was a gravestone and a black lagoon, and a picture of…(page flip) Martians taking over the moon” begins the storybook I endeavor to read to my insomniac three year old as we ready her for bed each night. It is on loan from the library, as are 15 other titles, but Goodnight Goon is my personal favorite as it aptly defines the active imagination of a child at bedtime. ..or at least mine.
Our bedtime routine is gleefully void of adult stressors that often dominate one’s mindset. During these precious moments, we exist without the inclination of ridiculous rising gas prices, tyrannical terrorist masterminds, nautical natural disasters, weekly work-related ramblings, or soapbox socio-political anglings. For a mere moment in time, it is just a monster and his goon, a couple books, an imagination, and perhaps a magical moon (inhabited by Martians) …or something to that effect.
Images of bedtime often evoke tranquil and serene imagery even if it is cloaked in monsters or other maniacal mischief makers. Like the nickelodeons of yesteryear, bedtime is a time to ignore, if not forget, the real world, altogether. It is freedom in the truest sense imaginable as simple physics cease to exist and one can take on the characteristics of a Lorax, an Oobleck, or even a Sneech successfully and with little condescension. The stories evolve from evening to evening until we tire of mummies rubbing their tummies, opting instead for a skull or a shoe or a pot full of goo or something along those lines!
When I summon my own childhood, it is often bedtimes that I remember first. I recollect summer shadows dancing on the wall, fearsome creatures they were, continually created as the sun’s final light reflected off the slightly askew curtains dangling in the room. There were transcendent sounds there too, harrowing echoes and unrecognizable vibrations matching the crawling shadows in subtle synchronization. Clutching the sheet’s sheer edge, I derived comfort from the fortitude of my bed, imagining it a fort or castle, an object of great strength nonetheless, and often, sleep would come, disguised as a wayward drifter lurking just beyond twilight’s overture.
With my memories firmly in tow, I often wonder why I cannot recollect the many ills that plagued society during my formidable years. I recall nothing of the crises in the Middle East all though there were many. No memories of natural disasters, plane crashes, or acts of terrorism either. What I do remember is a simple white and green dinosaur book my father read to me repeatedly and the effortless joy I found in our bedtime routine.
I suppose I only have a precious few bedtimes left before my three year old grows out of our routine. A day will come, I fear, all too soon, when nightlights and baby dolls are no longer necessary and bedtime is just a matter of when one’s dreams might come. I will miss the stories, I admit, the cadence of rhymes, the ghouls and goblins, manifestations of the sublime filling our wistful minds. I will miss the cats and the hats and the load screechy bats. I will miss the brilliant butterflies, the cloudy blue skies, and all the wise guys with squinty eyes. I will miss the Sues and the Lous with tepid shoes, the Eds and the Freds with chandelier heads, and the Sams and the I Ams with…yeah…you guessed it...green eggs and ham.
But mostly I will miss one little goon whose bedtime looms.
Who protests she can’t sleep… because monsters creep…because the ocean’s deep …because babies weep…and the chickens peep.
Because the hour’s late… because it’s only eight… no wait, oh great… it’s all ready too late…for my little goon has met a sleepy fate and alas her goonish dreamscape awaits.
Goodnight Goon…See you real soon!