I am going to tell you a tale that is not for the faint of heart or for those who get bad gas when they get scared (it’s a real phenomenon, just ask the old camp director who’s site was next to ours last week). No, this tale must only be heard by those who can appreciate weird science and freaky phenomenon. This is the story of the Monster Boy.
The Monster Boy was much like any other fairy tale creature. He lived two lives with two very different personalities. In his normal, everyday life, he was the boy that parents dreamed of: cute as a button, smart as a tack, and happy as a hummingbird (whatever the crap all of those sayings mean). Nobody knew he was the Monster Boy, or at least they would quickly forget. He was helpful and cheerful, content with his life, and a joy to all those around him. He shared his things with his friends and family. He had a laugh that could raise an elephant’s trunk and a light in his eyes that could cause a sober sailor to sing church hymns. In his normal, everyday life, the townspeople called this boy Noah.
And, like other fairy tale creatures, there was a trigger which would turn him from Noah, the boy who could do no wrong, into The Monster Boy. [this is a good place to shudder]. There was one event, which, when missed, would without fail cause jagged teeth and claws to extend where previously cute little bicuspids and itty bitty fingernails once seemed so darling. And it only happened at these times… the times when Noah would miss his nap, or infinitely worse, be woken up from his nap early.
Yes, my friends, this is a true tale, for I have seen the transformation from Noah to Monster Boy occur on a handful of horrifying occasions. It is always a slow-transforming, inevitable change, like a dog and rabies. Due to the timing of it all, many an innocent person has been left unawares in Monster Boy’s presence, only to be devoured or crushed when least expected. Once fully transformed into Monster Boy, a certain swath of destruction invariably awaits whatever lies in front of him, and the devastation is no less than certain.
Monster Boy is hyper-sensitive. One wrong word or look can set him off. His feelings are easily hurt and this causes him to weep and wail and thrash wildly at whatever is within reach. It often takes a village to calm him again. Moster Boy is also easily irritated. At things that to sweet little Noah were funny or commonplace, to Monster Boy they are highly offensive and deserving of no less than quick and painful punishment. Monster Boy is always hungry, but never eats. He knows exactly what he wants but doesn’t want any of it. He will destroy any shopping trip or dining out experience, no matter what defensive strategies are used, and he’ll make sure that you know just how powerless you are in all of it.
And what really interests those that have studied him is that Monster Boy really hates being Monster Boy, and also hates how helpless he is in controlling who he becomes. Like the Incredible Hulk, he is left without choice as to what he turns into when he misses his nap, and sometimes it’s just better for everybody to get out of Dodge than to try and tame the beast. For there is only one antidote, and only time can administer it. Sleep.
Ironically, sleep does not come easily to Monster Boy. As a regular boy, Noah and sleep are usually best friends. But to Monster Boy, sleep is a plague and a nuisance. As if the monster within knows that its life depends on the lack of sleep on which it is currently feeding, it fights any and all attempts at the healing transformation that sleep will always provide.
But, the villagers have been around for a long time, and have their ways of overcoming and taming the beast. And even longer than that, Noah’s dad has learned how to coerce Monster Boy into letting go of the reliance on sleep deprivation. A perfect concoction of the right silly songs, the right belly rubs, and the right dosage of Nyquil, will always usher out the monster and usher back in the little heart-melting boy. A change back to Noah is always a number one priority because survival for all depends on the gods of sleep being able to do their work.
And, for Noah’s dad, a much worse monster is always waiting in the wings… the monster called Age, and he knows that as dangerous and destructive as Monster Boy is, there is going to be a time when Age would take over the stage and the curse no longer would affect little Noah. And in a weird, inexplicable way, he knew he’d miss Monster Boy.