Thursday, March 29, 2012

"You know schizoid behavior is a pretty common thing in children. It's accepted, because all we adults have this unspoken agreement that children are lunatics. When an adult sees things that aren't there, we consider him ready for the rubber room."*

     I probably shouldn’t have started reading The Shining again in the first place. I’ve had bad experiences with it in the past. 
     One time I read it while I was staying in an old hotel (The Mark Hopkins) in San Francisco BY MYSELF and I was too afraid to use the bathroom because it had a shower-curtained tub (I guess they all do) and I was sure that the dead woman from Room 217 was in it. Then I was convinced I heard the shower curtain opening on its own. But nature won out and I had to screw up my courage and go pee or else pee in the bed. And I haven’t peed the bed once since I was eleven-years-old. So I marched right in and pulled the shower curtain open and peed (in the toilet—not in the shower). Then I left the shower curtain pulled open for the remainder of my stay, just in case. 
The Mark Hopkins. Not so scary.
        But I really like The Shining, so I read it every year, despite what a huge weenie I am. And there have been multiple occasions when I convinced myself mid-book that some small ghost child was looking in the window at me or Jack Torrance was trying to open the door and surprise me (in the bad way) in the shower.
        But I’ve never read the book while living alone, and it was really, really dumb of me. For one thing, I live in apartment #213, so I’m merely a few doors down from #217, which seems to be abandoned. Scary. And the elevator is old and creaky, and sometimes I think I hear it when I’m in bed at night (reading The Shining) even though it’s way too far away for me to hear. And I’m convinced I hear footsteps in the apartment above me, even though the building manager told me no one is living there yet. And the plumbing in this old building makes weird clanking and humming noises sometimes, so maybe it’s that old, dead lady trying to heat up her bath.
      Yeah, it was dumb.
      And then my friend Kathryn and I went out the other night for hamburgers and she mentioned how great the movie version of The Shining is.** And I almost choked. I started wondering if maybe I have the shine and somehow she was tuned into my extrasensory frequency. Which would be even worse for me if the dead lady from Room 217 is actually in my shower.
      I want to be proud of myself for how incredibly fertile my imagination is, but at the same time I’m wicked angry with myself for having the ability to imagine someone is chasing me or standing outside my door (despite the fact that I'm nearly 30 years old and I should know better).
     When I was a kid, we lived in a really cute little house with an unfinished basement. Lizzy and I would lay out blankets and pillows on the area rug and watch episodes of Who’s The Boss? and Family Ties down there on Friday nights, and eat pizza and drink Coke. It had exposed piping and light fixtures, but the family computer and dot matrix printer were down there and it smelled good because the washer and dryer were over in one corner.
      The only problem was that you couldn’t turn the lights off from upstairs. You had to pull the cord that dangled from the naked light bulb. And while that was perfectly doable at 4 p.m., it was a horrible after the sun went down. Usually our shows would end and we'd race each other up the stairs without turning off the lights and then fight over who had to go back down. When it was my turn, my brain could imagine any kind of horrible thing chasing me up the stairs after I pulled that cord. I could even hear the footfalls behind me.
       But now I’m a grown-ass woman and I still can’t shut out the voices of imagined bogey men hiding in every crevice of my apartment. And now I live utterly alone. And I thought it would be really great to read The Shining again.
     It was just plain dumb.
     The good news is: I’m trying to read as much as I can while the sun’s still up. I don’t have a shower curtain, but rather a shower door, and I leave it open. My imagination is slightly less incredible than it once was. And I’ve read this book about 10 times.
     But if I don’t post again for a few weeks, it’s because the Overlook got me.
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO. The inspiration for the Overlook.
     Or because I just bought Stephen King’s On Writing. Next time I write, it’ll probably be so amazing you’ll poop your pants. 
*The Shining by Stephen King.
**I don't care for Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining (Kubrick, 1980). He makes the lady in Room 217 hot, he adds in ex-caretaker Grady's daughters as weird twins, there's blood in the hallways and Danny is a wack-a-doo hippie with the voice of a gremlin and the hair of Dorothy Hamill. Plus, Shelley Duvall is Wendy in a heinous bit of bad casting (though to be fair, I hate her in almost everything except as Olive Oyl:the roll she was born to play). Sucky movie, if you ask me and not very scary. Nicholson's good, but he's always good, isn't he?

1 comment:

  1. I love ghost stories! I have never read THE SHINING or seen the movie, but maybe I will read and watch.