My morbid streak had gotten quite apparent by the time 1980 rolled around. I still wasn't old enough to be allowed to watch The Exorcist (the Holy Grail of Horror that I looked forward to the way most girls look forward to their fairy tale weddings) but I was a voracious reader and had recently discovered Stephen King. My mom had also bought me some horror comics and anthologies. I don't remember the titles of any of them, but one was about a ghost dog guarding a buried treasure.
Anyway, I wasn't much for Hopscotch or Barbie dolls. I HAD Barbie's, but I much preferred to bury them in the backyard in shoebox coffins. One night, I took several of them, wrapped them in toilet paper and put on a ghost show outside of the bedroom window of a kid I played with, a deaf boy who was quite entranced by the spectacle.
Once during a rainstorm, I took my teddy bear (yes, its name was George) into the backyard and tried to bring it to life by pouring rain water on its joints and attempting to summon the lightening to strike him and animate his furry cadaver. Needless to say it didn't work.
My mom didn't worry about me being disturbed, no matter how hard my sister tried to convince her that I'd be better off in an asylum. There were real life horrors happening all around me that I reacted to quite normally: with fear and disgust. One night, our upstairs neighbors came home from the bar and started arguing, as they did most every Friday and Saturday night. But this time it escalated into violence. One of them drew a knife and attacked the other. The police came and arrested the guy, leaving the wife at home with their traumatized toddler son. Dad came home the next day and all was kissyface makeup shit. The concrete walkway in front of their door was stained with blood for months and it became a sort of game among the apartment complex kids to run up and touch it without them seeing you.
At the end of 1980, I was watching TV with my mom and sister one night when the news came on that John Lennon had been shot and was dead. The guy who had done it was in custody. I remember feeling disgusted for the first time in my life. How dare someone take someone's life for no other reason than to draw attention to themselves? I was more angry than shocked. I could not fathom the killer's motivation.
I knew the difference between real horror and fake horror. I knew that the people in the horror movies didn't die for real, that their blood was made out of Karo syrup and red food coloring, their bursting brains and organs made from leftover movie lunches, their wounds created out of rubber and glued on. But real horror mystified me. Why would anyone want to inflict actual pain on another living person or creature? That wasn't fun. Death may be inevitable - a cold, hard fact I learned at an early age thanks to my sadistic sister - but that didn't mean that anyone else had the right to rush it.