Remember when Dorothy watched out the window, after the glass had hit her in the head? She saw the mean old woman first riding her bicycle and then turn into this gal riding a
broomstick. I wonder if that’s where the whole witches riding a broomstick thing got started?
Not long after I saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time, I had a nightmare that the witch hung from a rope, dangling from airplanes as they traveled overhead. Her purpose was to peek into houses as she flew past and anyone she saw, would turn into stone.
Vivid imagination: wrong on so many levels, and yet for years I crawled under my bed every time a plane flew by – and living on the approach to DFW airport, that happened a LOT.
Sometimes the things that scare us can be so ridiculous, but the emotions so real. I remember the way my stomach would tighten up when I hear a plane and I would hit the ground. I don’t just mean a little duck and cover. My intent to become invisible in the crack between my wall and my bed even left bruises once in a while. And this secret fear lasted for years. (Secret only because the witch couldn’t turn me into stone if I stayed around other people, but anyone who’s ever watched a scary movie knows that creepies only attack people who are alone.) The realization that no stone people were ever found in my neighborhood, or in all of Dallas for that matter, never occurred to me. The fear gripped and I reacted.
I discovered this vividly in high school. Our choir hosted a haunted house every year. Being a bit on the dramatic side (stop laughing) I really got into my roles! One year I blackened my hair, whitened my face and neck, and put dark rings around my eyes. My white sheet of a costume wasn’t that scary, except that it hung over my letter jacket (cold nights in Texas) making me look rather deformed. So I got stares as I wandered. But I got screams when I’d stop wandering and lock eyes with someone. I’d turn my head and leave my eyes on them until they stretched beyond my periphery. Ha! Grown men creeped out by a high school sophomore!
And one year, I got to work in the last room of the house, a large bathroom. It was the insane asylum. I sat on the top of the toilet, oatmeal all over my face like some type of crusty growth. This time, the hair was gray and stiffened; I went for the female Frankenstein look and missed. Red splattered my white blouse and skirt. When the people came into the room, everything looked orderly. Dim lights showed me gazing into oblivion and a guy who fiddled with the sink knobs. Across from us in the bathtub were the bars of a cage (hose pieces). As soon as the group neared the exit, I would lean over and hit the wall next to me to start the action. The boy at the sink switched the lights off and turned on a strobe and an escape alarm. The grisly defensive lineman in the bathtub would then bend the bars as though he’d escaped. And of course I got hoarse from screaming my head off every 2.5 minutes.
Our project probably wouldn’t freak out a fifth grader nowadays, but we got a great reaction with every group back in the day. Again, fear gripped causing a reaction. Even though the fear was from a pretend source, the reaction grew from absolute sincerity.
Your turn: So what caused fear to crawl up your spine when you were little? Share your memories in the comments, or blog them and send me a link.