Those who know me well, know that I had a long list of things I was afraid of as a kid. I know now that these phobias were just the outworking of an overly creative mind – something that comes in handy now that I am a fiction writer.
Back when I was little kid, though, I wasn’t writing novels and I had a hard time appreciating my active imagination. Actually, I had NO time to appreciate my active imagination; I was too busy defending myself from enemies like Mr. Bubble, Mr. Clean and, insert gasp here, the Michelin Man.
I really, really hated that guy. Everything about him was wrong. He was a man made of tires. White tires. Even a six-year-old knows that tires are black. How on earth could anyone trust a man made of white tires?
And what would he do to me if he got close to me, this man-made-of-white-tires? Why, he’d wrap his fat, white arms around my body in a boa-constrictor-like hold and suffocate me, of course. What other purpose could he have?
I survived my childhood, obviously, and no longer have nightmares about company mascots chasing after me, but even now – as recent as last night – when I see the Michelin Man on television (last night he was pulling little black tires out of his abominable snowman body and throwing them at evil gas pumps who want our wallets) a ripple of unease courses through me. I am instantly reminded that I used to be afraid of him.
There is much I know now about the Michelin Man that I didn’t know when I was a kid. He is happy. He likes cars. He’s a hundred years old. He has a cool name no one even knows. Bidendum. Bib for short. And his record is as clean as his cottonwhite body: He has suffocated no children.
A good friend gave me a Michelin Man T-shirt and sometimes I wear it as a token of my remorse for having had unjust thoughts about him all those years ago.
But the truth is, he’s made of white tires.
And tires are black.
My trust can only extend so far. . .