Here’s the deal. As children, most of us are afraid of the dark. After all, we can imagine a lot of different monsters that could be hiding there. Fortunately, most of us have adults around who can settle us down with some nice, calm, mature reason. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait until I turned into one of those grownups who are magically unafraid of the dark.
Sadly, it never happened.
If anything, I’m now more afraid of the dark. Of course, I can still imagine all of those same monsters that I could imagine when I was a kid. In fact, the more you experience, the more creative you can be with inventing new monsters. And, as an adult, I’m now all too aware of all the real things in life that are truly worthy of my fear.
Now when I’m lying in bed and I hear a creak or moan from the living room, it’s scarier than ever. And my Dad is getting sick of me calling him at two in the morning to assure me that there’s no such thing as serial killer, land-based, shark zombies.
For example, I was housesitting for a friend a few months ago when just such a situation arose. My friend has a miniature dog and elusive cat. The cat kept to herself the whole time (which is just how I like my cats). The dog, on the other hand, couldn’t have been more social. She’s a cute, pint sized pup who excels at toe licking. And I appreciated her company…until that night…
It was very late and all of the lights were off. I was lying on the couch watching TV when my pooch pal suddenly became very alert. She leapt up like a security guard responding to an alarm, took a few serious steps towards the living room, and began to bark into the pitch-black abyss.
And, I kid you not, I froze like a deer in the headlights. Because that was some freaky, scary crap. And I reasoned that if I didn’t move a single muscle, the killer who was clearly making his way through the living room might not see me. And this went on for some time.
The dog just kept barking directly into the unlit living room.
And I kept perfectly still, wondering how my obituary would read.
And this dog was roughly the size of a large tomato so, while she was doing a hell of a job of alerting me to my impending demise, she would certainly be helpless to defend me when the maniac made his presence known. Meanwhile, I have all of the self-defense skills of a frightened turtle and was just wondering at what point it would be appropriate to start wetting myself.
I jest now, but I was really freaked out. And I don’t remember ever being that scared of the dark as a child. Of course, I now know that the mini-mutt was just having some fun with me. “Don’t give me a second can of dog food?” the dog surely thought to herself, “Wait until later, I’ll scare the crap out of you, silly human.”
Eventually, I mustered enough courage to dash to the light switch and reveal the life-threatening living room sofa that had warranted twenty minutes of defensive barking. I then quickly turned on every bulb, lamp, and flashlight in the entire house and patiently held my breath until morning came, at which point I felt it was safe to finally get some sleep.
So if I ever have kids and they call me into their room late at night to check for monsters under the bed…screw that. I’m no child’s monster bate. I’m sliding right into bed next to my offspring and, just to be on the safe side, the two of us are going to lay perfectly still with our eyes wide open until the sun comes up.