Manny was really superstitious.
All that crap about throwing salt over your shoulder, don't walk under ladders, black cats, break a mirror, step on a crack.
And, it was His Mom's Fault. Although she often said 'oh, of course whatever happens is Mother's fault' , just being her usual guilt-ridden self. But in this she was dead on. Much like Harry Potter's foster parents wigged out from the magicks, so too, did she. She didn't really want to believe, but she couldn't help it. A series of traumatic (well, to her, not to the other kids) magic shows at an early age involving 'sliced up' fishnetted lovely-magician's-assistants, and birds that could not possibly have fit into that guy's armpit! made her think all sorts of things a little too much, a little too close to heart.
Thus she pressed the import of these things onto Manny, and voila. Intead of a kid having fun with 'spells' and monsters and broomsticks, Manny was now way too anxious about things he did not understand. This is also what would much later cause him to set off on his quest to fill all those Lincoln Penny coin books with pennies from various years and U.S. mint pressings...but that is a tale for another time.
By the time he was about 13 Manny the superstitious was additionally known to be afraid of/dislike: 'Magic the Gathering', cartoons of magic things, Dungeons & Dragons, (and the old rerun cartoon of Dungeons and Dragons), Halloween and anything related to it (especially candlelit pumpkins, but also women dresed like witches and those guys with the bleeding face masks), the Wizard of Oz, Wizard brand baseball cards (even the word 'wizz' substituted for 'urinating' made him feel extremely uncomfortable, which was really annoying since all the other guys used it at school), Elvira, the Munsters, and the Count from Sesame Street.
What was really interesting about Manny, though, was the fact that that show on t.v. with all the really sexy girl assistants who helped the masked magician show you how magic tricks were really done? actually relaxed him. Knowing what made the stuff look fake always made him feel relieved.
But I didn't know any of that when I ran into him on the street outside a garage sale. I had no idea that when I watched the seller , a nice enough girl who was helping her mom sell stuff that Saturday morning, turn on an old lcd projector in her driveway to show me that it worked, she would project something from the 'Charmed, Special Edition' DVD onto the side of the house next door. It worked really well.
Alyssa Milano was suddenly really tall, wearing a belly shirt, dispatching a demon.
Manny, stage left, was freaking out. He was frozen in place, and unable to look away. At first I thought it was because he was ogling Alyssa Milano, but in fact it was because he was shaking and his eyes started to glow.
Either Manny had found his new idol, or was about to display an extremely ironic latent talent that went against everything he was brought up to fear.
I guess it was going to be the latter. Some unusual wind kicked up, and I think I heard a demon howl. But it could have been the crappy projector.
And so it came to be that they found me hovering above a wicker chair, covered in chalk drawings.