Despite being a very rational person, I am also someone that is easily frightened. I have been known to scream if someone startles me by, let’s say, coming into my cubicle to ask me a question and I don’t see them coming.
When I was a kid, one of the only books that my mom liked to read us was “Where the Wild Things Are,” which I can now appreciate is a terrific book. When she read us the book, however, she would use a scary voice. As a child, I remember being really torn between wanting my mom to read to me and fear of the scary voice she would use when she read the book. She would also do things like, if the power was out and we were all laying in bed, waiting for it to come back on, she would switch her voice to a witch’s cackling, sneering voice. When we would ask for our mother, she would say, “I’m not your mother. I’m a witch.” While I knew, even as a child, that she wasn’t really a witch, it was still scary.
I’ve never liked scary movies. When I was in elementary school, my dad took me to see “Young Sherlock Holmes” as I used to watch the Sherlock Holmes series on PBS and loved it. That movie gave me horrible nightmares for years. At slumber parties, I always tried to fall asleep beforeFreddyKreuger made an appearance in whatever movie they thought it would be fun to watch. I still don’t like to watch scary movies, but I am old enough now that it is not really cool to sit there through the whole thing with your eyes covered and your ears plugged. Lately, I’ve perfected the approach where I do math in my head (this works well if you are likely to cry in public) to tune out the sound in the movie and make it look as if I am watching the screen when really my eyes are focused beyond it. I used to sit quietly with my eyes delicately closed, but both my mom and Evan have caught on to this trick so I have to do the off-focus thing.
I also have a tendency to get the heebie-jeebies about things that wouldn’t concern most people. In graduate school, I found this cool cd player/alarm clock on super clearance. After owning it awhile, I noticed that it would periodically make sort of a scratchy or humming noise for no reason. I was complaining about this one day to Evan, who said to me that he had noticed this as well, but what was weirder about it was the fact that one day, when the POWER WAS OUT, the alarm clock turned itself on and started playing music. I know it was probably due to some charged capacitors, or some such thing, but that was the end of things between me and the super clearance alarm clock. Now it lives in the guest room, where it can haunt our guests.
Anyway, this weekend Evan and I were at the pet store and bought this glove to use to entertain our cats. We often play this blanket monster game, where we wiggle our hands underneath a sheet or blanket and the cats try and catch us. Unfortunately for the human participant, the cats are generally faster than us, so we end up with a lotofinadvertant scratches. We thought that this would be perfect for the game.
It looked innocuous enough in the store, but when Evan was playing with the glove and the cats on the floor last night, I looked down and realized that it looked just like an monster/Freddy Kreuger hand…like a glove an evil clown would wear to hide his long razor fingers. I told him such, and he (ever the one to try and break me of my ridiculous fears) started making scary faces at me and peaking the glove around the corner, just like Freddy. I tried to make him put it away in another room, ala haunted alarm clock, but we compromised and he shut it in a drawer in the bedroom last night.
I feel like a lame-o sometimes as, during the day, I am paid to be a rational scientist. Some things, however, still hit that frightened kid spot leftover from my childhood. It’s not like Evan is always brave, either. He screams like a little girl when surprised by a giant, rubber black widow spider. It would make sense if he only did it once, but between me and the members of my lab in graduate school, we probably scared Evan like fifty times with the same rubber spider and everytime he screamed like a little girl.