The other night I was trying to tell Rob about the freaky-scary haunted building D used to live in -- not cool-scary-haunted like I had always expected haunted places to be, but freaking-scary-haunted. What really surprised me is how not-at-all frightening any of the occurrences were after being robbed of the context you feel at 3:15am while lying awake letting your imagination get away with itself. My imagination is rather good -- I find that I can pretty easily work myself up into a state of unease without much effort at all. Or, rather, no amount of effort can stop it once it gets going that way.
When I was about 13, I was terrified of Freddy Kruger. This sounds really stupid -- and I agree it is -- but he scared me to death. At that point, I had never even seen a Freddy Kruger movie. I knew what he looked like, I knew his story, and I had worn a replica of that fuckin' glove he wears (my neighbor was completely obsessed with Freddy, his mom's boyfriend made him a really awesome Freddy glove one year for Halloween). That was enough. I also knew that he was fictitious, but that didn't help at all. I'd just start thinking of Freddy and work myself into a state of extreme unease.
In times like those I would resort to something that I think most people who've ever been children must know about -- the Olympic event children everywhere have used undoubtedly since the beginning of time: The Terrified-Triple-Jump. You know the one I mean? With eyes squinched shut, you quickly flip off the light, take a giant leaping step into the middle of your room and then dive with all your might towards the bed, landing half-on/half-off the bed and sliding under the covers in one graceful move. Every Christmas I opened presents, hopeful that I would be the proud recipient of one of Gary Larson's Monster Snorkels. but alas, I never got one.
I like being scared, but apparently only in controlled situations. A movie about ghastly things banging on the inside of someone's closet door is great. I'm there. However, when something ghastly is banging on the inside of my closet door or reaching up from the darkness inside the gaping maw of a 100 year old Murphy Bed to get me while I try desperately to sleep, I most definitely wish that I'm not there.