Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fright Night—What Spooks Us?

The ghosts and goblins of All Hallows’ Eve are lurking in the dark ready to jump out from behind that old dead tree to send shivers of fright down our spines. Since we associate Halloween with scary beings that go bump in the night, it is a good time to talk about what frightens us.

The scene is set for me to talk about the things that scare us. As I sit in my office working on this article, the wind howls around the corner of the house and branches scrape against the window. In fact, the unusual sounds are downright creepy.

Although some of the surveys show slightly different results, I’m going to hone in on ten common fears.

Things that go BOOM in the night.  A lot of folks are scared of storms. Thunder and lightning can shake up the best of us. Throw in a tornado warning complete with a heart-stopping siren, and you can create panic. I used to be terrified of storms, but somewhere along the line, I just learned to respect them and find a safe spot if possible.

Dark and spooky nights. No wonder the cliché for the beginning of a story is “It was a dark and stormy night.” Two fears rolled into one. The dark is the most common fear of children. I think that’s because when its dark, you can’t see the monsters in the closet. And you can’t go trick or treating until after dark…

Creepy Crawlers. Let’s face it. Spiders are mean little critters that can give you the kiss of death before you can say “Granddaddy Longlegs.” They all scare me…black widows, tarantulas, or brown recluse…and the only good spider is one that I see first because it will become a ghost spider.

Slithering Sneaky Snakes.  I never saw a snake that I liked. A few weeks ago, I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner where Sedalia’s own “Snake Lady” dressed up as a witch and brought one of her pet snakes in a caldron. Fortunately, I was sitting at the back of the room. Needless to say, I wasn’t one of the people who let the snake slither around my arms.

Crash and burn.  If you are afraid of flying, you have lots of company. As many as twenty-five million people are nervous flyers. I don’t think they are so much afraid of flying as they are crashing.

Hitchcock’s Vertigo. I have a love/hate relationship with heights. I love looking at scenery far below, but I can freak out if I get too close to a canyon. The spinning sensation makes me feel that I’m just going to topple over the edge, plunging to my death far below.

Hell Hounds. I’ve never really been scared of dogs in general, but I’ve had a couple of close encounters. One time I was handing out some literature door-to-door for a local organization. At one house, I knocked, but no one was home. As I started back to the car, a German shepherd wedged himself between me and the car. I talked really nice to the dog as I slowly backed around him, never turning my back. “Nice doggy. Aren’t you a pretty boy? Are you having a good day, little doggie?”

Coffin Claustrophobia. Nobody likes to feel like they are in a tight spot where the air is hard to breathe. I’ve known fearless men who would climb a high wire or chase storms, but put them on an elevator and their knees began to knock.

Evil Drilling Dentist. Some people treat the dentist like he’s Dr. Frankenstein and they expect him to drill right through a tooth and into the brain while laughing manically.

Mice and Rats. Yep. Rats are pretty scary if they wind up in bed with you. That happened to me while staying at a very nice resort in Mexico. Not one of my more restful nights. But still, better a rat touching my hair than a ghost.
I don’t know why, but ghosts didn’t make the list. I’ve had a few experiences in my life that would be classified as supernatural. I’ll save those stories for another time. In the meantime, I’ll wish you a spooky, spine-chilling Halloween.

copyright © by L.S. Fisher, October 2014
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