January 13 2011

My Childhood Wallpaper

So when I was a little kid (6?) back in the 70’s, ugly wallpaper was the thing. My bedroom wallpaper was a busy jungle scene of sorts. Mainly bamboo stalks and tall reeds and grass and stuff. I remember it being zebra-ish but I don’t remember if there were actual zebras. The whole thing was set against a bright red background. It kind of gave the appearance of a red sunset in nature with like an African vibe or whatever.

In theory, perfectly fine wallpaper for a kid. But in reality the wallpaper was really sorta terrifying.

Every night my parents would tuck me in at night and leave the door a crack open so some light would come in. (Good night! Sleep tight!) And I’d pull up my blankets to my chin– and slowly my wallpaper became alive. The jungle drums would beat low in the background. The crickets started cricketing. Eventually, I’d hear rustling and low growls. Glowing eyes would peer out from between bamboo reeds.

I knew back then that it was just my imagination and there was something coolio about it deep down. And, it definitely sent me off into sleepyland pretty fast. But for a couple years I remember that door being left open a crack– the red background of my wallpaper looking dark– and yellow-eyed monsters and snakes would all start moving around back there…

At some point, I got the bright idea to tell my parents that my wallpaper was freaking me out. Not sure why as a kid big decisions like, ‘I don’t like my wallpaper’ seemed like such a difficult thing to say. Maybe because I just assumed I couldn’t actually change my walls. It seemed like too tall of an order. I don’t like tomatoes was do-able. I don’t like that shirt worked ok. But I don’t like my walls— seemed like a really big request for a little kid.

Anyway, after I told my mom that my walls were terrifying– I think she saw what my room looked like with fresh eyes. Within a day or so, my jungle wallpaper was stripped away and replaced by tall ships and bells or flags or something. Nothing dark at all. I remember walking into my room and being like, ‘Wow! New walls! Ships! And bells!’ The jungle was gone.

But that night when I went to sleep with mixed feelings. I looked around my walls and the ships didn’t start sailing around. The ocean didn’t come to sweep me away. It all just sat there like… wallpaper. And I missed my jungle and secret jungle enemy friends. They were gone.

Were they so bad? Truth of it was the jungle creatures never really made a move. I never was attacked by a lion or bit by a snake. All those things only stared at me as I went to sleep. Staying beyond the reeds they just looked out at me. Never more than that. Maybe the jungle creatures were just watching over me? Protecting me? Maybe? Definitely more than any tall ship ever did…

ok bye!


Wheeze impersonator, Part 2 says:


Angry Man says:

My walls used to move as a teenager too. But only around and around in circles. And then, only after a heavy drinking session.

Stoner McDope says:

Duuuuude….. that’s trippinnnn…….

Rod says:

Pretty cool of your mom to be so quick…

Amy says:

My parents would leave a light on in my closet and shut the door

Anonymous says:

Thats some good writing todd almost brought a tear to my eye. it was kinda like a “where the wild things are” genre entry. I played old glen miller tapes (as in cassette tapes) to deal with the darkness. to this day, i know every song.
ok bye
Paul Franco

TINAA says:

I used to draw all over my wallpaper and my parents took it down D:
some of the drawings were pretty awesome too.

Ash-lay says:

Dude. That story made me wonder in what crazy ways I am messing up my kids without even knowing it. Crap.

Anonymous says:

We’re still watching you.

S says:

You’re such a poet Todd. Nice post!

Rina says:

The jumanji game is coming to get you!! That’s a cool story 🙂

MsM says:

You are so LUCKY. Those animals were intending to rip you to shreds the night right after your mom ripped the paper down. Phew! Saved by tall ships.

Draw On The Thing says:

This probably explains all the weiners, balls, weiners-and-balls, and geysers that show up on me every frickin’ time…

TheGreatCaptainTaco says:

My childhood room when I was like 4 or 5 had giant hand painted clowns and balloons on the walls with bright red carpet. I think it was that way when my family moved into the house. It freaked the hell out of me and my parents and sisters helped repaint the walls. It took soooo many coats to get rid of it all. The clown kept coming through the paint at me!(bastard) I think that if you look real hard you can still make out a couple of outlines of the balloons on the wall. To this day clowns kind of make me angry. And my sister is deathly afraid of them.

My family was poor says:

No wallpaper or paneling for us, only bare drywall. I wish we’d had enough $ for wallpaper. Oh, and heat. It would’ve been nice to have heat.

Z says:

Nice drawing to illustrate the story, tOdd. I liked the story too. Seems you were wishy washy from the start. Do you like Charlie Brown cartoons?

The Master says:

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I shared my room with my sister. I didn’t have any freaky wallpaper.

alfredo says:

at least your house had walls. we just had chicken wire and my wall paper was just a bunch of hustler centerfolds.

gunfever says:

pussyboy afraid of your wallpaper

embareass says:

scared of your teddy bear too

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