When I was just a wee laddie, I had a penchant for spending most nights sleeping on the living room couch. Aesthetically, the couch was 1970s distasteful at best, had all the aromatic qualities of a bus full of old people, and was covered in a material that would make a burlap sack feel like the finest silk. Still I was insistent on sleeping there and did so until I was probably 7 or 8 years of age.
I don't remember why this was the case as much as that it just was the case. Call it a toddler reified belief.
My parents chalked it up to me being a needy child or perhaps having an overactive imagination of monsters in the closet. I can't say I blame them. I was needy and did, in fact, have an invisible (not imaginary mind you) friend named Nivan (pronounced NEYE-VAN like Ivan with an N) that lived in our vacuum cleaner.
Then, just recently, at Christmas dinner, the explanation emerged courtesy of my older sister.
You see, back in those dark ages me and the sister didn't get along at all. In fact, I was pretty much convinced she was the devil. As most older sisters she was often charged with babysitting me. Unlike most older sisters, her definition of babysitting me was to exploit my fear of sharp objects by threatening to stick me with a thumb tack if I didn't sit on the floor quietly while she watched The Osmonds or The Brady Bunch. Heaven forbid I ask to watch the Price is Right. That would result in a call directly to Santa Clause with report of being a bad child. This threat was soon null after she told me there was no Santa and subsequently replaced with a greater threat of calling my step-grandfather who is arguably the meanest whiteman on this side of the Altantic.
But that's all in the past.
So anyhow, somehow the holiday dinner talk wound its way to childhood memories and monsters in closets. And the following exchange took place:
Sister: "Remember how Ben used to always sleep on the couch?"
Family: "Uh-huh, we couldn't figure out what the deal was."
Sister: "Remember how our closets had spooky crawlspaces that connected the bedrooms and there was a hidden door that popped out of the wall in Ben's room?"
Satan: "Yeah well I thought it might be a good idea to sneak through the closet and pop out and scare Ben one night"
Family: "Are you serious?"
Beezlebub: "Yeah, I was wearing a wolf's mask too."
Family: "Did you really?"
Old Scratch: "Sure did. I jumped out and scared him good."
Family: "How old was Ben at the time?"
Lucifer: "Probably 5 or 6."
Family: "That's gonna generate some bad karma!"
El Diablo: "Yeah, probably"
Family: "So then what happened?"
Girl with Horns and pitchfork: "I ran back to my room and pretended to be asleep, but not before hiding the mask."
Family: "- -"
Sister: "I tried not to laugh as I overheard you trying to convince Ben that there were no such things as monsters in his closet as you walked him back into his room."
Family: "Geez. Sorry about that whole giving you a hard time about sleeping on the couch and if you didn't stop you might grow up to be a hobo stuff."