S = Stephen King (A-Z Challenge)

“…so I went to the library and picked up three books by the greatest author of the last thousand years: Stephen King.” — Peter Griffin, Family Guy.

Yeah, I used that quote before. Deal. It’s good.

Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Cujo, It, Misery, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, The Body (Stand by Me), Creepshow, Christine, The Stand, The Dark Tower series…the list of influential and incredible Stephen King books goes on and on. His legacy is an inspiration, his talent intimidating, his impact on society undeniable.

Yet, he still has the stigma as a horror writer, as the King (ha!) of Gross Out, and the Master of Terror. I was at a “team building exercise” at work several years ago because the whole team hated each other, and in an attempt to humanize ourselves with the team, we had to give one person we idolized and aspired to be like.

There were the unavoidable lame moments, like when one woman said she wanted to be her mother (I suppose I was the sick one for thinking that she just wanted her father. After all, she WAS from the South). I didn’t point out that having twelve children, most of whom are on drugs, lunatics, bipolar, or universally difficult wasn’t precisely an achievement. Someone said something like Ivanna Trump, post-divorce and got laughs. However, people thought I was serious when I said Taylor Lautner, because he’s young and pretty. (What the fuck people? Who wants to be a closeted twink? He’s very pretty, seems like a very positive guy, seems well grounded, and he has lots of money. I could do worse for the subject at hand, but it’s not what I aspire to be.) I let the joke go and nobody batted an eye. Horrified that these gossipy people I disliked would think I was so shallow, I eventually let them in on the joke, and said that I admire/idolize/would love to be like Stephen King.

I should have stuck with Taylor Lautner.

To steal my friend’s line, they couldn’t have acted more surprised if I had shat in their laps. My supervisor did a Dorothy Zbornak double-take, tried to move on, and then looked at me in my business casual Dickies and polo shirt. He said, “WHAT?! Shouldn’t you be wearing all black, have on too much eyeliner, and be talking about how pain is life?”

Simpletons. I didn’t mention anything about my writing aspirations (aiming high, I know), but I did say some of the things I mentioned above — icon, touched the world, incredibly talented, etc. She of the incestuous thoughts and eleven siblings looked at me as though she could actually see my soul burning and said, “Why would you want to write that horror stuff?” Then, nose firmly in the air, trying to reach heaven with her snootiness, I imagine, she said, “I don’t pollute my soul like that.” Seriously. In the workplace. Good ol’ Christian judgment.

Now, this bitch had not two days before gone off on a 40 minute dissertation on what an amazing movie Shawshank Redemption was. I thought about letting it go, about laughing later about it, about sending her the IMDB link privately to show her how special she was…but I wasn’t feeling that giving. (I think it was because she actually believed I wanted to be Taylor Lautner). I told her Stephen King wrote The Shawshank Redemption. Everyone thought I was lying; I would have received fewer shocked and horrified looks had I levitated the conference room table with my mind. She refused to believe it and looked at me as though I dared to insult the REAL writer of Shawshank.

I eventually had to look up the movie on my phone to prove it to her. Then I mentioned Stand by Me, Apt Pupil, The Green Mile…you would have thought I set her on fire and then beat the flames from her face. (If only.) She talked about it for days. I made her watch Misery. She asked me to make her a copy. I told her to buy it, and she did. I made her listen to the audio book. She did. Twice.

This could easily become an entry about bias, judgment, and inbreeding, but we’ll save that for another time. My point is that I have loved Stephen King since I was in 5th grade and he scared the shit out of me with ‘Salem’s Lot and Ben’s trip into the Marsten House, and he kept my affections when he made me cry with the end of The Shining, when he began my life-long obsession with telekinesis, when he took me to Derry and made me care about seven plucky kids battling their worst nightmares, when he made me look at solid nurses with fear and suspicion, when he tainted my memories of my childhood St. Bernard, and when I was older and he made me long for my childhood friends and adventures, when I rejoiced at the redemption of a wrongly accused man, and when he forever entered the phrase “bite my bag” into my vocabulary. The man’s work has shaped me, touched me, and scared the piss out of me.

If I could be half the writer he is, have a quarter of his talent, or even have a chat with the man, I would be a happy person. No other writer — except maybe J.K. Rowling, who can take away fears and hate and sadness or thoughts of pain and cancer and death and put me in a happy, dangerous, wonderful place — has affected me the way Mr. King has. He made me fear the dark, look twice in the closets, want to visit old hotels, wander at night, look in sewer drains, and believe that total immersion is only a few pages away.

Sometimes, that can be the greatest treasure in life, and it’s something I am unendingly grateful for, in awe of, and hope to emulate someday.

***As a side note, I was going to do “super heroes” in honor of X-Men: Days of Future Past coming out tomorrow. However, I plan to do something for that with tomorrow’s entry, so come back tomorrow with your Geek Capes firmly attached and ready for flight. And, for the record, I love the gorgeous Nicholas Hoult as Beast and will now accept no other but, in all fairness and to bring it all together and end this on a pro-Tay note…couldn’t Taylor Lautner the Ninja have been awesome in that role? (Ugh…being nice is exhausting! I need a drink.)

Cockadoodie!

Alternate letter considerations: Super Heroes, Simpsons, She-Ra.

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~ by Darren Endymion on May 22, 2014.

3 Responses to “S = Stephen King (A-Z Challenge)”

  1. The Stand is probally one of my all time favorites. I love all of Kings works.

    • I loved The Stand. It’s one of those books I keep wanting to return to, but never seem to have the space or time to devote to it and give it the attention it deserves. As a writer-in-training, I’m still in awe of the cast, the plight, and how masterfully it was all pulled off.

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