Monday, October 26, 2009

I Scream, You Scream

Back in the late 80’s, my sister and I thought we were pretty safe choosing to have our three kids be clowns for Halloween. They were around four and five years old. We wanted the experience to be fun, and frankly, we were both on a tight budget and it was an inexpensive way to go.

My mother and I sewed costumes. We did the makeup from a cheap kit. Even my husband and I got in on the dress-up fun.

Only we weren’t clowns.

I was Mrs. Roper from the TV show Three’s Company. Yeah, from back in the dark ages. Let’s just say the costume did nothing to enhance any of my attributes and leave it at that. Still, I didn’t see anything scary when I looked in the mirror, except the possibility of what I might look like in twenty years.

On the other hand, my dear hubby decided to be Dracula. And that’s where things got weird. Despite the fact that my nephew, Keith knew we’d put on costumes and was looking forward to Trick or Treating, he began to tear up when he saw himself with the clown makeup on. He cried more when he saw my Jason and Holly similarly made up. His face really crumpled when he saw me, but the Dracula bit with vamp teeth and a touch of fake blood running from the corner of my hubby’s mouth was too much.

My kids shrieked with glee when their dad chased them around the room acting all vampirish (is that a word?), but that wasn’t quite the reaction he got from Keith.
The shrieks were, um, definitely not of the delightful variety. Oh, dear. Oh, dear! There was full-on sobbing and horrible noises coming out of that child’s mouth. His makeup was ruined and stayed that way.

No amount of cajoling, or real clowning around or reassurances from any of us—not even from his un-made-up mom and grandmother—could console him. I have a picture of us (before digital days) and we’re all grinning like crazy, trying to convince him it’s all in fun, but he’s having none of it. We still don’t know why seeing his own face in cute clown makeup started the waterworks.

I guess we all have our irrational fears. Weird masks and ghoulish makeup don’t bother me. Real blood and needles? No problem. But I hate the feeling of creepy-crawly things on my skin. Maybe someday I’ll tell you about my experience with dozens of Daddy Long-leg spiders in the dark of night. (((shudder)))

My kids have always delighted in those made-to-scare-the-crap-out-of-you movies, but I had to leave the room every time the bad-things-coming music started. My mind replays those scenes when I lie down and close my eyes at night. More insomnia I don’t need.

I’ve confessed some of my irrational fears, now tell me some of yours. What triggers your screams that's a little bit or a lot embarassing? Come on, you're in a circle of friends. Spill!


Debbie Kaufman said...

Even to this day I can remember a movie I saw as a teenager, See No Evil, about a blind woman being chased by a killer. It scared the beejeesus out of me. In books, Dean Koontz's Mr. Murder did the same. I didn't read him again for years!

Cinthia Hamer said...

Well, Carol, like I said last week, I have a horrible fear of spiders. I truly am trying to overcome it, but it's been a long, long, journey and it ain't over yet!

The worst was probably when I was camping out near El Paso, TX one summer night on the trip to join my husband here in GA. I went to the phone booth to call him (no cell phone back then) right around sunset. As soon as I hung up the phone and stepped out of the booth, I realized that I was standing in the midst of thousands (I am NOT making this up!) of big, black, hairy tarantulas!

My screams echoed up and down the Rio Grande Valley and could probably be heard as far south as Chihuahua. I don't really remember how I got out of there...I just remember being there--then not and slamming the door of the car, wishing I had something stronger than tepid water to drink.

Marilyn Baron said...

The scariest movie I ever saw was
"A Clockwork Orange." I don't like scary movies at all, especially the ones that have a ring of truth or that could possibly happen.

In real life, there's a certain kind of bug I hate. I can't even write down the name of the bug and I get upset if I even hear it. I think I mentioned this last week as well. Here's a hint. I'm from Miami. Miami has Palm Trees. These bugs fly and they should be the national bird of Florida.


Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Carol,

Ah yes, dressing kids for Halloween brings back fond memories. Our oldest wanted to go as a belly dancer one year so I made her the outfit that resembled what Jeanie wore in I Dream of Jeanie. Well, it rained and the wind was blowing, but she was determined, so we let her go. She froze her backside, but she had a good time.

Great post. Oh yes, what frightens me? I don't even bother watching horror movies because I don't enjoy them, but it's spiders. Yes, Cynthia, you and I wouldn't make a very good team.


Anna Steffl said...

Scariest movie -- Nightmare on Elmstreet. After that, I've never watched another horror movie.

Irrational fear -- Big Foot. I was camping in the Great Smoky Mountains once and had to leave and find a hotel because I was convinced Big Foot was going to get me. This was when I was in my 20s. I think the fear stems from a Big Foot "documentary" I saw when I was a kid.

Cyrano said...

The two scariest movies I can think of were Pet Cemetary and The Sixth Sense. In Pet cemetary when that woman's sister with the scoliosis or whatever the heck she had came on screen that was it for me. I actually had to leave the theater. But worse than that was the Sixth Sense. My sisters laugh that that movie scared me, but it did. I'm one of those wierdos that believe in ghosts so it creeped me out. The worst ghost in the movie was the kid that blew the back of his head out with his father's gun. Crispity crap, that kept me from sleeping for a month! I kept seeing the little bugger at my bedroom door.
My worst fear on the other hand is a confined space. I have acute claustrophobia. The kind that reduces a person to a screaming, crying nut. I didn't know I was claustrophobic until as a teen I went to Rock City. There was this tight crevice you had to walk through to get to the rest of the park. I walked in, but had to be carried out by a nice man that was behind me in line. I was so crazy with fear and flailing with terror that I broke the poor guy's nose. He bled all over my favorite sweater as he carried me out. But I didn't even know that because I fainted in mid crevice. I woke up with a crowd of tourists around me.
An ambulance came for my rescuer and everything.
Talk about embarrasing!
Hey Carol, thanks for dredging up my worst fears this morning!!
I'll be cowering in the corner for the rest of the day.
Have a great Monday,

Maxine Davis said...

Great post. Even if I do have to face my fears first thing.

Movie? I don't watch really scary ones. I tend to moan in my sleep and keep people awake. But, I took my brother to see Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. It was years before I could watch it again - for him never again!

Birds. Don't know why. My brother (same one above) knew my fear, let out his pet parakeet and locked me in the kitchen with it. He thought it was halarious, I have barely forgiven him. He just says we're even.

Nancy said...

Hi, Carol--what a fun post! Kids can be weird about costumes. Our son never freaked out over Halloween, but he did about his preschool Christmas pageant. The kids were to sing about Rudolph, and they had little headdresses, brown construction paper headbands with "antlers" made from tracing their hands. Each child had a red dot of on the tip of his/her nose. They looked sooo adorable!

And the boy wept all through the song because he didn't want to be Rudolph. He wanted to be "a Christmas giraffe." *sigh* Go figure.

Nancy said...

Did you ever watch Boston Legal? James Spader's character had a clown phobia.

Carol Burnside said...

Wow. Some of you are braver (or something) than I am. I would never watch some of the movies you've mentioned.

Debbie, I can read scary books, no problem. Patricia Cornwell, Jeffrey Deaver? No problem. But watching JD's The Bone Collector? I can't tell you how many times I left the room or hid my face. Scary stuff.

Cinthia & Sandy - I'm with you on the spiders. I can deal okay in the daylight, but at night when I can't see the little buggers? No way. Heebie-Jeebies, screaming and general hysteria ensues!

Carol Burnside said...

Ah, Marilyn, I know the bug you speak of. Prehistoric monster of a bug. It should be annihilated.

Carol Burnside said...

Anna, I'm glad I don't fear Bigfoot. My hubby and I have done a LOT of camping. Some of it with only tents and sleeping bags.

Tamara: Sorry about that. When I wrote the post I wasn't thinking about the reality of y'all dredging up your worst fears. Come out of that corner. You're among friends. :)

Carol Burnside said...

Birds, eh, Maxine? Good thing they don't bother me. My hubby was studing ornithology when we met. LOL

Now those big parrots with the huge beaks that can take a hunk out of ya - oh, yeah - I keep a safe distance.

Carol Burnside said...

Hi, Naney! Long time no see.

Too funny about the "Christmas giraffe."

Boston Legal was a favorite show of mine and my hubby. The clown thing was totally irrational, as most fears are, but funny the way a grown man reacted to clowns. I'd forgotten about that.

Carol Burnside said...

Fingers going to fast. Naney? Who's Naney? Sorry about that NanCy. :)

Nancy said...

No problem, Carol! I knew who you meant. :-)

EC Spurlock said...

Carol, I know a lot of kids who are afraid of clowns. I think it's the makeup, they just don't look human somehow. Poor Keith probably thought he had been turned into someone else and wasn't himself anymore.

I try to avoid scary movies but I live with a Stephen King fanatic so it ain't easy.

Want to hear a really irrational fear? As a kid, I was terrified of butterflies. I think it came from seeing my sister step in a bees' nest when I was about two. I equated anything that flew and sat on flowers with bodily harm. I used to have nightmares about them sitting on my arms and sucking out my blood. This lasted until college, when someone gave me a book on butterflies as a gift. I became fascinated with their beautiful colors and spent an entire summer doing paintings of them. It was a tremendous catharsis and got me over my fear.

I will fearlessly stomp those spiders for you, ladies! Maxine, my mom was afraid of birds too. She said it was because a chicken sat on her head when she was five or six and she couldn't get it off.

Tammy Schubert said...

It's my basement. When dust ushers in the darkness, my big, unfinished basement turns into a hiding place for monsters. I don't know what kind or what they look like, but I know they are there. Waiting. Listening. When the dogs need to go out through the basement at night because of the rain, I make my husband get up and stand guard while I take care of the boys. Every minute we are down there, I feel the resident monsters watching, just waiting for my husband to leave us alone.

Darcy Crowder said...

Okay, I confess, I've watched way too many scary movies in my time. No so much in recent years,but still, when I'm home alone (I live in the woods with no other houses in sight unless it's winter) I can creep myself out pretty good...

Tamara! You had me in stitches, LOL! I've got a bit of claustrophobia as well, though I can't claim to have tested it by even trying to go in a tight cave. Mine came from growing up with asthma and even a hint of being somewhere I can't breathe throws me into a panic.

Thanks for the fun post Carol. :) One of my favorite costumes for my kids was when we dressed them up as a cowboy and indian - too cute!

Linsey Lanier said...

Cute post, Carol. I'd say, it was that Stephen King thing for Kevin. Nothing scarier than a clown.

I'm sure with the current paranormal craze, "vampirish" is definitely a word. :)

Me? I couldn't sleep after I saw Michael Landon in "I was a Teen-aged Werewolf." My middle name is "Wimp." I'm with Kevin. :)

Note to self: Never use a phonebooth in Texas. Yikes, Cinthia!


Sally Kilpatrick said...

Oh, Carol.

I'm with Marilyn on A Clockwork Orange. My first fiancee told me I just "had to see this awesome movie." It should have been a clue.

I also have a fear of basements thanks to the Blair Witch project, and ghosts thanks to "The Others." I'm thinking I should stop watching horror movies of any variety.

Finally, I have a fear of snakes. Can't stand them--anything whose body keeps moving after its head has been cut off is just freaky.

Thanks, now I'm ready for Halloween.


Tami Brothers said...

Oh man, some of you are definitely braver than I am. I can NOT watch scary movies. I day dream about them, I'm so bad.

My son is going as a spooky jester this year. we never did the clown face, but this outfit is pretty spooky. Thankfully he is older and I don't think it will have any bad effects.

Okay, my fear is the dark. No matter how safe I KNOW it is, the dark just scares the @#$@#$#@ out of me...

Have a great night!


Carol Burnside said...

Thanks for sharing, everyone. I enjoyed your comments. :)

Marilyn Baron said...

Oh, yes I have a fear of basements too. I never go down there.


Sally Kilpatrick said...


I'm not a fan of the dark either and never have been. I used to take the scraps to the ditch while singing "God Will Take Care of You." Don't know why I chose that one, but, as you can see, I have made it back safely after several trips to the scary ditch in the dark.