Monday, September 05, 2005

The 27th Letter of the Alphabet

W X Y Z Key
When I was in first grade, my friend Kelly and I made up a new letter of the alphabet. It was called "key," and it came at the end of the alphabet, after Z. The letter "key" was silent, it had no sound of its own. It was supposed to come at the end of certain words, though the only example I can think of is that I made up a bunch of planets out beyond Pluto, and some of these planets had the letter "key" at the end of their names.

It was 1962. Planets beyond Pluto were not popular: back then science fiction was still a small, grubby, unpopular genre, sort of like detective novels or true crime stories, only moreso. A 27th letter of the alphabet was not popular: creativity and imagination were for grubby beatniks and other dangerous outlaws, not for first-graders (though I already had long hair back then, even before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan).

But it was too late. It was around age six that my "radioactive core meltdown of the imagination" began, I think initially as a psychological defense against an unhappy grade school existence. I was already making up my own superheroes, like the Scarlet Streak, and drawing regular monthly comic books about them. I was drawing intricate diagrams of underground tunnels filled with dangerous spikes, traps, and pools of acid, like a precognition of the perils of Indiana Jones. I was designing my own fire departments, with fleets of red, yellow, and even blue fire trucks. I was designing my own space ships.

Soon (age nine) I would be making up my own imaginary continent of countries, with their own history and customs, and even their own board games. Soon (age thirteen) I would be creating an entire intricate language of my own. Soon (high school) I would be writings piles of science fiction stories about my own future history, as intricate as Robert Heinlein's future history, with the colonization of the Alpha Centauri system, and the 3000 year interstellar war between the Clitonians and the Wolfites, and the Coming of the Darkness, and Simon Athelstan, Emperor of the Seven Stars and Lord of the Princes of the Vanmoor.

Back in those days, people just didn't use their imagination like this. It was unheard of. It was downright radioactive. If word of this 27th letter of the alphabet had reached Washington, I can just imagine the man at the desk of the nameless security agency (so top secret that nobody's ever even heard of it) dispatching a ninja SWAT team to hunt me down. But the Scarlet Streak comes smashing right through the brick wall! Bullets just bounce right off him!! The skies darken with fleets of spaceships, the friendly aliens from Saturn come to the rescue!!!

The letter "key," 27th letter of the alphabet! My "radioactive core meltdown of the imagination" had begun; and in truth it's never really let up, to this day.

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Blogger eli said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger eli said...

I enjoyed reading this. :]

Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:28:00 AM  

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