I have a theory that most people fall into one of two categories when it comes to fears: there are people who seem to be afraid of almost everything, their fears are obvious; then there are people who appear fearless but are actually quietly afraid of things that matter. It’s just a theory, really. I’m also fairly sure we move between categories over the course of life. For what it’s worth, I tend to fall into category one with the hope that I am slowly moving toward category two. I’ve always been terrified of scary movies. I absolutely hate haunted houses. I’m so jumpy that my college roommates made a game out of scaring me (there are youtube videos to prove it — and No. I’m not linking to them. No way. No how)
Halloween is getting close. People are putting up creepy decorations. Some are slipping into stupid, scary costumes. On college campuses nationwide girls are figuring out how to make recent pop culture references “sexy” — I don’t even want to try to guess how many people will dress like Miley from the VMAs, Sexy Sharknado, or the Government Shutdown. Actually, good luck making that one sexy. I’d kind of like to see the attempt.
Look, I didn’t set out to assault Halloween in this post. These things happen. I haven’t really enjoyed the holiday since adults stopped giving me free candy just because I was dressed like Pocahontas. Plus the annual resurgence of Scream masks on store shelves is just a reminder that I’m a big ol’ baby when it comes to scary things. Don’t believe me? Good. I’ve made up an extensive list of irrational things I have been or am still afraid of. Maybe you’ll read the list and think “oh yeah, me too” or maybe you’ll read it and think “Whoa. Elizabeth is nuts and I’m glad that I seem far less insane by comparison.” Whatever the case, here it goes…
1) The gator under my bed – When I was a kid I was convinced there was a very large and aggressive alligator living under my bed. I have no idea where this came from. I’m not sure why my little mind chose a gator instead of your run-of-the-mill monster. I also never figured out how the Alligator moved from our house on Joel Court to my second home a couple of miles away without anyone noticing. All I know is that for several, several of my early years of life I felt it necessary to leap into my bed from an unreasonable distance just so the gator wouldn’t get me. It just occurred to me that this may have boosted my future track & field jumping career. So for that I say – Thanks, mysterious lurking gator. I’d also like to note that this fear eventually evolved into a concern that a ghostly and anorexic looking Mischa Barton was going to reach out and grab my ankle because I saw ‘The Sixth Sense’ and could never shake her creepy pale face after that. And if I’m being really honest — occasionally a sudden twinge of fear still makes me leap onto my bed… or maybe I’m just practicing in case I ever get the chance to jump competitively again.
2) Kidnappers – You read this one and thought “oh, that’s not crazy” and now I’m laughing because… well, just give me a second. What is it about being on top of your bed that makes you think you’re invincible? Once I leapt out of the gator/Mischa Barton’s reach I was convinced nothing could get me. Nothing except for kidnappers, but I had a solution for that. For the first 10 or so years of my life (emphasis on the “or so”) I was convinced that I needed to be completely covered in a sheet in case kidnappers came in. I would sleep with a sheet covering everything but my eyes and nose. Why? Isn’t it obvious? Everyone knows your average kidnapper would just take a quick look around a room, not notice the little body outline under the sheet and think “well, no one’s here. I guess I’ll check the next house.”
3) The Dark – Okay, in my defense, this one is pretty normal. I think most people who are (were) afraid of the dark will tell you it’s not the actual lights being off. It’s what could be lurking in the darkness. Let’s be honest for a moment, we’re all a little afraid of the dark… right?
4) Couches that don’t back up to walls – And back to crazy town. I don’t like to sit on couches that don’t back up to walls. I saw ‘Scream’ when I was way too young (8, maybe 9) and I’m not sure I’ll ever outgrow this fear. I won’t ever make a scene at someone’s home about sitting on a couch that’s just out there in the middle of a room, but you should know that I will be extra alert while I’m there. It’s really just practical. If your couch doesn’t back up to a wall, then someone can hide behind it and kill you while you’re just sitting there enjoying a movie. Think about it… and maybe rearrange your living room.
5) Garages – While we’re on the subject of ‘Scream’ we’re going to have to have a talk about garages. If you haven’t seen that movie, there’s a gruesome death involving a garage door. The scene begins with a girl going to get a drink out of the garage refrigerator and ends with…… ***SPOILER ALERT*** (is that necessary for a 17 year old movie?) …….her death. She closes the refrigerator door to find the murderer in that creepy smiling mask. He chases her around the garage and… well, you know how it ends. Plus, of all the places in your home, where do you keep the most deadly tools? The garage. It’s a room full of things to kill people with: shovels; axes; hammers. I’m not even sure how to wrap this one up, except to say that I’m glad my mom and dad will finally know why I always sprint up the garage stairs after I go down to grab a beer (hi mom & dad!)
6) Basements – You’ve already read five other ridiculous things that scare me. Are you really surprised that creepy rooms UNDERGROUND freak me out? My parents have a well-lit basement with a door to the backyard and I still don’t like to be down there alone. No matter the basement. No matter the access to the outside. There’s always a room that has no windows and is literally 100% underground. That’s the room where you die, okay? Stay vigilant, people. Honestly, I’m just glad I’m here to warn you.
There you go. That is the composite list of things that put me into category one. Those are the irrational fears that distract me from the things I should actually be afraid of: rape; war; human trafficking. I do worry about those things. I think about them all the time. I see horrible stories all day long at work. I worry about those things, but they don’t make me jumpy. I’ve lived in a pretty protected world. The real world terrors don’t have a tangible effect on my daily life. Those are the things a person really starts to worry about when she becomes a parent, I think. They are the things that scare moms and dads who are bringing up a young person in a legitimately terrifying world. For now I’m still operating with the fears of one of the kids. Most days I still let my parents worry about the bigger things.