An Untitled Moment in Time I
by Jovon White
Do you remember the show Tales from the Crypt?
That little skeleton motherfucker would pop out of the coffin (after the camera ride through an obviously haunted house) and host the show. The Crypt Keeper I think they called him.
The adults around me would torture me with that shit. When I misbehaved they’d tell me he was coming for me. Scared the ever-living fuck out of me. Every time he popped out of that goddamn coffin I screamed. But I never didn’t watch it no matter how scared I got. It’s all in your head, right?
The Crypt Keeper and that fucking song “I’m Too Sexy.” They both still give me nightmares. I don’t know—something about Right Said Fred’s voice just sounded satanic to me. Doing his little turn on the catwalk. Fucking terrifying.
Both remind me of my mother. My biological mother, I mean—not the mother I call “mom.” Not the woman whose values are instilled in me: my stepmother. (It might break my bio mom’s heart to read that, but it is honest, and therefore must be written, I suppose.)
It was my bio mom’s side of the family who found my psychological torment amusing. For most of my childhood, I believed things like haunted houses were an everyday occurrence, that monsters lived in the darkness of my grandmother’s foyer—close, living off the literal shit in the cat’s litter boxes. They were inventing these things. I wish I were too.
My bio mom faded from my life over the years. Custody battles were messy. People were called dirty names.
I’m biracial; my father is black, my mother white (although my father’s last name is “White,” I digress). On more than one occasion, I heard my bio mom’s mother call my father a racial slur I won’t reiterate here. (It starts with an “n.”)
The ultimate narrative pits a black male against a white female for the life of their mixed child. You know the old story: my bio mom’s family insisting on calling me by my middle name because I didn’t look like a “Jovon” (my first name), my father’s side of the family wanting influence over my father’s only blood son.
Childhood is traumatizing; it’s not sexy, it hurts—a crypt kept by memory that haunts a life.