What Scares You?

  I had a long discussion with a friend of mine about what is truly scary. Being the one who initiated the question I sat there listening intently to his concerns and terrors. It turns out that his scares were a real downer. Not what I was going for. You know, cancer, losing a loved one, financial fallout, career ending events….real stuff. When he was done he posed the same question to me and I simply nodded and listed the same. But that wasn’t what I was going for. I was talking about odd fears and it was clear that we couldn’t salvage that discussion after he dropped the “c” word. Cancer, not….you know. Anyway, this is what I was going for so now you will know.

Jim Henson’s serious muppets. I don’t like muppets that aren’t funny and I feel that their lack of punchlines are Satan’s work. I can’t describe it but I get the heebs just watching them. I think it is a gut feeling more than anything. Sort of like eating something that has expired and no matter how good it looks you know there is something off. That’s how I feel about drama muppets. Except for Fizzgig. I like Fizzgig.

This was the first truly terrifying moment in cinema for me. In 1985 my parents took me to see Ghostbusters and I still remember having the confused notion that this was a biker movie. I don’t know what goes through a 7 year old’s head that biker = ghost busting but who knows? Regardless of my expectations, within 10 minutes it became clear what Ghostbusters was when the free floating, full torso apparition changed into that thing above. I was so scared my feet fell asleep. Actually I believe they fainted. That scene took the innocents away from the movies for me. Before then the only shocker was Bambi’s mom getting smoked. From 1985 on, I had my guard up in the theater to keep me from shitting myself like I almost did that day.

Jerry Stiller’s hands are that out of a science fiction novel. They haunt my dreams and plague my thoughts with such questions like, “where does he buy gloves?” and “can he fit those grabbers in his pockets?”. You may think this a silly fear but Mickey Mouse hands freak me out. Hrm…. maybe it is Mickey that scares me.

The process of giving and taking blood makes feel completely weak. It’s not the needle as much as the bend in the arm and I’ll tell you why. Many moons ago when I was a private in the Army, I was volunteered to attend a combat lifesaving course. Not knowing what I was in for I gladly accepted the challenge. It was a two day course involving every form of battlefield casualty and many splints where made by yours truly. But the last day was reserved for the fun task of pair up and giving each other IVs. I didn’t think too much about this until they gave us a box of tubes, needles, iodine swabs, bands and a bag of fluid. Our instructor? It was a VHS US Army instruction video from 1980. Soon we began the process of administering the IV and let me tell you, there was blood. Lot’s of it. People were passing out, heads were hitting the floor, and spurts that hit the ceiling. To this day the smell of rubbing alcohol invokes an arm jerk reaction that makes Rock Balboa look like the girl next door chucking a football. I know that maybe an exaggeration and a poor comparison but at least you are imagining Sly Stallone throwing a football like a girl.

This is a stretch but my heart would stop if it ever happened. Minding your own business, swimming in a lake, far far from the ocean when all of the sudden a great white bites you. Think of the disbelief! Ever since Jaws, and I’m not alone on this, just swimming in a pool can bring up thoughts of teeth and fins. But really, the green hue of a man made lake, muddy bottoms and unsuspecting bathers really makes for a great movie. I know Bull sharks live in lakes and rivers as well as the ocean, but I talking about the big guy. The white death. I need to write to Spielberg.

Still a little freaked out by this. Nuclear war is far from most people’s mind but not mine. Not since seeing Sarah Conner’s dream.  It makes you wonder if anyone in the 50’s knew that hiding under your desk just wouldn’t cut it.

You see? I couldn’t talk about these irrational fears with anyone but you. Thanks for listening.

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