Things That Scare Me



 Halloween is not for sissies, yet I love it anyway.  I love it because it’s the one time of the year when being afraid is a shared experience as opposed to my usual solitary, soggy-armpit, hyperventilating, pull-it-together-in-the-ladies’-room-for-chrissake kind of experience.    So it’s in this Christmas spirit of sharing that I present the following fear list this Halloween:
  •   “Shore” by Zdzisław Beksiński (above):  There was a time when The Future was depicted as a utopia of progress and enlightenment.  When I was a kid, I drank my TANG (just like the astronauts) and watched The Jetsons joke with friendly robots and go for Sunday drives in space sedans.  The Future was going to be a better place!  Even if it might be taken over by talking apes, at least the apes were intelligent.  Now it’s looking like The Future doesn’t have much of a future at all.  The very real possibility that the human race will dumb itself into a huge dung heap is becoming the default portrayal of The Future.  To really get that cold-in-your-bones, the nadir-is-nigh feeling of impending doom, rent Idiocracy (the funniest horror movie ever) or its kid-friendly equivalent Wall-E, or just look at “Shore” (above).  (“Shore” courtesy of Miz Larreau.  Thanks a lot, Miz Larreau!)
  • This 1959 video of Santo and Johnny performing “Sleepwalk”:

Time has disfigured the faces of performers Santo and Johnny, yet their almost pristine music plays on: eternity echoing forth from disintegrating hands.  Spare me your Saws and your Final Destinations; this clip is all the memento mori I need.

  • The Jelly Belly Factory.  Yes, I said the Jelly Belly Factory.  Jelly Bellies were instrumental in softening the public image of former President Ronald Reagan.   Photos of  Reagan dipping into candy jars filled with Jelly Bellies transformed him from a  let-them-eat-cake conservative into a fun, cuddly grandpa with a sweet tooth.  This horrifying realization struck me while accompanying Kate and our daughter Mabel  to the Jelly Belly factory as a sort of pilgrimage for Mabel.  We came to pay tribute to the treat that played a huge role as a positive reinforcer in Mabel’s potty training, only to flee in terror when I realized it had helped Reagan to also drop a deuce… on America.
Dramatic reinactment brought to you by Photoshop.
  •   True Story: I arrived at the hospital on time for a routine appointment.  It was the same hospital in which Mabel had been born nearly three years ago, yet in that short amount of time, the place had become unrecognizable: new concrete multi-story office buildings crowded against freshly cropped-up brick laboratories.  They blocked out the sun and rendered the old schlep between the parking garage and the hospital into a sort of strange safari.  The interior of the hospital, too, had changed: it had become a huge labyrinth of  mirror-clean tile and numbered doors.  A few recognizable landmarks from the time of my last visit–the fireplace where I’d once sat with my family as Kate and newborn Mabel rested in their room, the player piano that filled the hallways with the Liberace-like renditions of soft rock hits of the seventies, the gift shop–popped up occasionally only to disorient me in time as well as place.  As I scrambled here between here and there, then and now in this mind-warping maze, I was reminded of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski , the horror epic about a house that could literally remodel itself right behind the backs of its occupants.  Fortunately, I caught the attention of a support staff member who guided me to my destination.  As we walked, she asked me if I’d been to the hospital before and I responded that I had, but it had changed a lot since my last visit.  “It’s changed for us, too,” she said, “We leave at night and come back in the morning and find a wall where there wasn’t one before.”

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6 Responses to “Things That Scare Me”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Holy effing ess. You read House of Leaves too! That is the #2 scariest book I have ever read, right after Misery–the part where she chops off his feet and then cauterizes them with a blowtorch traumatized me so severely that I had to stop reading it (forever) right there. I put it in the bottom of my desk drawer, upside down, where it stayed until the end of grad school, at which point I threw it away, using a paper towel so my fingers wouldn’t even touch the book.

    • hellraisin Says:

      House of Leaves scared me almost as much as the Jane West doll that pinched me with her fully articulated joints when I was a kid. I had to neutralize her mojo in Kellyesque fashion by burying her in the back yard.

  2. hellraisin Says:

    Damn! All we had was Jane, Johnny, and a Barbie for bitch-slapping!

  3. riffrandell Says:

    Jane comes with a gun AND a make up kit!

    • hellraisin Says:

      I believe I had Jane use the compact for a compass for a few hours and then I just chewed it like gum. The damn thing might still be lodged somewhere in my large intestine, actually.

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