Saturday, June 2, 2012

"It's getting awfully hard to have a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache."*

    I am easily frightened by bogus stuff (like surfer lingo and the word "nipple" and spiders), but sometimes I think that many things are scary that aren’t supposed to be. When I get thinking on this too hard, I start envisioning a vast conspiracy of twisted, freaky adults (mostly corporate executives wearing capes, for some reason) with too much time on their hands sitting around in conference rooms and plotting the demise of the psychological health of children (or impressionable adults).
    So because I got a mysterious vampire bite ON MY ANKLE, I decided I should put it out there, and request feedback on remedies. So far, I’m still visible in the mirror and my skin doesn’t shimmer like a disco ball. But I’d also like to provide a short list of things that are terrifying and (unlike vampires) probably shouldn’t be.
Vampire fang marks on my ankle. I shaved for this photo, so don't give me a hard time.
1.     Ice cream trucks and their music. Actually I would like to break this one into three separate categories:
a.     The fact that ice cream trucks look a lot like big, white, child-molester vans.
b.     The fact that the “ice cream” in said ice cream trucks was most likely manufactured sometime in the mid-1960’s. That ice cream has no stamp of freshness on it, unless you note that sometimes it comes in the shape of Sponge Bob, so it must have been made at least as recently as 1999. Which still doesn’t make me feel better.
c.      The music played by ice cream trucks. Why does it sound like a jack-in-the-box is going to jump out and attack you?
2.     Jack-in-the boxes. (Jacks-in-the-boxes? Jacks-of-all-boxes?) Whoever invented this twisted “toy” is one sick puppy. So, you sit there and turn a handle while some creepy circus music plays (usually “Pop Goes the Weasel”) and at some point, unexpectedly, a scary fucking CLOWN jumps out at you? Fun. Really fun.
3.     Clowns. Come on. These aren’t fun or funny or even vaguely enjoyable. They’re gut-wrenchingly terrifying and perverted. And I’m pretty convinced they always have been, even before It was a book or a major motion picture. (A private thank you to Stephen King who was just saying what we were all thinking.)
Pennywise the Clown in a sewer drain in IT. Only redeeming factor: he was played by my beloved Tim Curry.

4.     My friend Colin suggested “hockey masks” as an addition to this list. I could not agree more (of course, part of that is due to Friday the 13th) but I’d take this one notch further: masks, in general, are terrifying. This dates back to even before Poe’s Masque of the Red Death and all the way to the time of those wacky Greek theatricals of 8 quadrillion B.C. But it remains utterly horrifying and real: masks are disgusting bastardizations of human faces. Think skeleton masks, Nixon’s face, or any of those ski masks people wear to rob banks or stab innocent campers.
5.     Characters in costume at Disneyland. Unless they’re dressed as princesses, they’re really not allowed to talk to you, but they feel totally comfortable rubbing your back or squeezing your neck or following you around with lollipops while you’re innocently trying to hit up the buffet breakfast. But all they can do when you confront them is shrug and try to hug you. I call shenanigans on that. It's just grab-assing while dressed like a squirrel. Shudder.
6.     Teddy Ruxpin: here was a teddy bear that talked to you and actually moved its mouth. I knew how it worked, because my sister had one and I was madly jealous and played with it all the time behind her back. It was just a cassette tape shoved in behind his vest (a creepy detail in and of itself). But that didn’t explain his random mouth movements that were unaccompanied by any vocalization. Or why he could still move when his batteries were dead...
One of Ouisa's many animatronic toys. She also had Go-Go My Walking Pup.
7.     Chuck-e-Cheeze. This place used to be called Showbiz Pizza (“Where a kid can be a kid!”) and my well-meaning Aunt Kris took me there when I was a young thing. All I remember was that as we ate our pizza in a booth, I grew increasingly fearful that an enormous bear or mouse or kangaroo was going to come sauntering up to our table. I was so convinced, that I could have sworn the floors were shaking and pounding with the footfalls of said animal, like they would in an earthquake. That may have been the only time in my entire life that I wasn’t completely immersed in devouring a pizza.
8.     Team mascots. Usually birds or tigers or bears. See number 5.
9.     Silly putty. A toy a lot like vomit. But unlike vomit, you can’t clean it up and you don’t feel better after you’ve done it.
10. Mall Santa Clauses. See numbers 5 and 8.
Perhaps the source of some of my neuroses: the back of the photo reads "Lacey and Billy Bear, 1983" in an adult's horrific penmanship or that of a very advanced 6-year-old. Notice how he's staring at me. And how I'm sleeping in a closet.
   So, I’ve had my vampire fang imprints for a good week now, and they aren’t getting better despite my liberal application of Neosporin and my near-constant scratching. Are vampire bites itchy? Because these itch like hell. To be honest, I wouldn’t care too much if I became a vampire. It would allow me a lot more time to figure out my life. And I enjoy the nighttime and darkness in general. I’m not a huge fan of blood, but I suppose that will change when and if it has to. And there’s always the chance for major stardom in the film industry, which is really loving our kind right now. And if everyone I love dies before me, I know I can just spray a little holy water on myself and end it all. 
*Rocky Horror Picture Show (Richard O'Brien, 1975). Words uttered by Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-n-Furter, a Scientist. A film that made truly heinous things wonderful and vice-verse. (This is sure to be the subject of its own post one day.)

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