When I was about five years old, I had a book of illustrated nursery rhymes. A favorite was The Girl with the Curl :
There once was a girl, who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very, very good.
And when she was bad — she was horrid.
Imagine that rhyme read by a child in a creepy sing-song whisper. Gives me chills as an adult.
But at five I found that word — Horrid — fascinating for some reason. I think in part because I was unsure how it should rhyme with “forehead” in the rhyme. But also because it had a delicious mouthfeel, a sort of woody British caramel of a word. Horrid. Horrid. Oh, that’s simply horrid. Horrid.
Here’s where my actions become less clear to me. I made the decision to pick up a black ball-point pen and write the word “Horrid” on my pillow. This was a one-time event. The only thing I have ever written on a pillow was the word horrid. Maybe I wanted to look at the word each day when I went to bed? I don’t know. All I know is that when you scrawl a word on a pillow with a ball-point pen in a child’s handwriting, the result is terrifying, especially if the word is Horrid.
My parents must have been secretly petrified of me.