I really don’t care for skeletons. Even as a self-respecting Rock musician, I keep far from skeleton-glorifying artwork, clothing and accessories. In fact, I dislike the sight of bones so much, I don’t even keep figurative skeletons in my closet. Well, maybe some small bones (white lies with my kids’ best interests at heart) but definitely no skeletons.
For example, halfway through an innocent movie, one of the actors randomly yelled “Mother F*^%#r”. My 6-year-old son immediately turned to me and asked, “Maaaaam, what does Muthafuga mean?”
Without missing a beat, the intuitive mother in me answered, “Oh that’s just the name of some Russian guy.” I knew that a reply like that would solicit no desire to remember the word.
“Oh,” he said disinterestedly while I swiftly moved on to expressing my disgust at his leaning over to wipe his eyes with the socks on his feet.
Coming back to actual skeletons, there was one that had managed to court my interest and lull me into a space of safety. It was the friendly skeleton displayed in our school biology lab. I visited this skeleton every day during my school years and spent much time counting the ribs – a missing rib, as per the Bible, could indicate it was male and had possibly endured a nagging wife.
That was the only time in my life when I cared about a skeleton other than the one holding me together.
However, things changed recently. Sometime mid-2019, I pulled over at the traffic lights on the morning school run. My kids spotted a skeleton sneakily and strategically positioned in the window of the house right next to the lights. The window was long, narrow and perfectly designed to fit his frame. The skeleton glared out at us through hollow eyes.
“Creepy,” was my first reaction.
The days that followed entailed many discussions as we waited at the lights, watching the skeleton on our way to school. It would take a certain type of people to feel comfortable sharing a home with a full skeleton. Were the resident witches? Maybe they were spooky devil worshippers? It was an old house which lent itself well to this idea. Maybe the residents were doctors? Doctors love their bones. Or more simply, were they just regular people with a great sense of humour?
Mr Skeleton and us, we continued to watch each other every morning. Soon enough, Halloween arrived. Can you imagine my children’s delight when we discovered that Mr Skeleton was decorated with lights and a witch’s hat?! There was giggling, a fresh round of theories and desperate attempts to capture a photograph without actually wandering on to the property.
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We barely recovered from the excitement of Halloween when Christmas rolled around. Mr Skeleton, still lit up, was duly dressed in a Santa hat and some Christmas trinkets.
Then came the corona virus and the winter cold. Mr Skeleton had changed into a fluffy dressing gown – open at the front because if you have ‘it’ flaunt ‘it’! Light blue with stars, the dressing gown showed an appreciation for bling. My kids concluded he was working from home – wondering if we might find him with a laptop if we drive by during office hours.
Needless to say, Mr Skeleton grew into just another friendly face. He and his owners afforded us many laughs and many silly conversations – what a quirky way to spread joy!
Alas, a couple of days after I wrote this story, I drove past Mr Skeleton’s to find the window empty. Many weeks have passed and he still hasn’t returned. To say I am worried and sad is not an exaggeration. He had steadily joined the very exclusive league of skeletons that I share a bond with – friendly, with a sense of humour and an appreciation for special days/carefully selected outfits. But what if he was a monster who decided to move residence before I shared his whereabouts with everyone? I’ll take my chances.
After all, everyone has a fascination for monsters – except, of course, the imaginary ones that live under our beds!
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