childhood

A Trip Down Horror Lane

It’s that time of year.

The time when one has engorged oneself on countless bags of mini-snickers that one was able to procure regularly from the massive Halloween candy pile on display since early August.

The time when an avid TV viewer can turn on the channel, and see Michael Myers dough-boy face looking impassively back at her.

The time to watch horror movies.

This time of year takes me back to the days when a young Speaker7 put a steak knife under her mattress for “just-in-case” purposes.

I have no business watching scary movies. It is something I cannot handle yet I cannot help myself.

By day, I am a rational pragmatic person who makes decisions based on logic and reason. But at night, that person is gone, replaced by someone who is convinced that lump of dirty clothes in the corner is, in fact, the evil spawn of Jason and Chucky.

I’ve gotten better. I know there is no way in demonic-possession I’m going to watch any of the Paranormal Activity movies. I will never see The Exorcist and I sure as shit ain’t sitting through any movie about a haunted dibbuk box some jerk bought on eBay.

I’ve learned my lesson from a childhood spent sleeping on the floor of my parent’s bedroom. It would follow the usual pattern. I would stay up late by myself watching some horrible movie on HBO. I would go to my bedroom and start panicking the moment I turned out the lights. Five minutes later, I would run down the hall to my parent’s bedroom, and pull out the mattress they kindly stowed under their bed for this very purpose.

So what were the movies that caused me to lose my shit?

1. Salem’s Lot

I don’t even remember the plot of this movie. I just know at one point this blue-looking vampire fuck was flying outside someone’s window. I thought I could protect myself by placing all my stuffed animals on the window seat by the top of the stairs. Yeah, like they could do anything. And you thought Edward Cullen’s sparklyness was frightening.

Length of time on parent’s bedroom floor: one week.

2. Amityville Horror II: The Possession

Yes, okay, the house is filled with some demon spirit that possesses the older brother who then shoots his entire family to death. My house was not filled with evil spirits, but did have an older brother who once chased me around the house with a weed-whacker so–wait, why am I watching this?!?

Length of time on parent’s floor: a month (“More like a year.” — Speaker7’s mom).

3. Friday the 13th

I don’t remember the name of my kindergarten teacher, but I sure as shit remember a bald-headed Jason popping out of the water and grabbing the last remaining camp counselor by the neck and pulling her underwater.

Length of time on parent’s floor: a week

4. Rosemary’s Baby

I would still watch this movie. I think I might have even watched it while pregnant because I am a big genius. To this day I think tarragon is tannis root, and I’m always suspicious of it.

Length of time on parent’s floor: a week.

5. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

I know technically this is not a horror movie, but I just have two words for you: Oompa Loompa.

Length of time on parent’s floor: 0, but I wanted to, I really wanted to.

6. The Shining

The little boy with the talking finger, the elevator of blood, the deranged father–yes this is the stuff of nightmares, but they got nothing on those twins, man. Those creepy-as-shit twins. I would make out with a decaying old woman any day of the week over having a conversation with those twins.

Length of time on parent’s floor: six weeks

7. Nightmare on Elm Street

I thought I could handle this one by watching it with the volume turned completely off, a boom-box playing Duran Duran and multiple bags of salt-and-vinegar Wise potato chips, my number one comfort food. Didn’t work.

Length of time on parent’s floor: two months.

8. Scream

Okay, so technically I was not a child when Scream was released in theaters. I was more like in the 20-year-old range. I saw this when I was home for the Christmas holiday and it’s very likely that I snuck into my parent’s room and slept on their floor and snuck out in shame very early the next morning before they woke up.

Length of time on parent’s floor: one embarrassing night.

So what movies have caused you sleepless nights?

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RIP Bully McMully

Bully McMully is dead.

That’s not his name. His name has been changed to protect the living–mainly me. His name was something that didn’t rhyme, but we changed it so that it did. We thought it was clever, the “we” being me, my brother J and my two cousins K1 and K2.

Bully McMully had a strong presence in our lives in the late 1970s. If I was anything like Angie Z, I could tell you a blow-by-blow account of our dealings with Bully McMully and provide photographic evidence, but my memory is just a giant sinkhole of bits and pieces of things I likely made up or saw on after-school specials, and should not be trusted. It took a lot of therapy to realize I had not grown up in a little house on a prairie. The only way I know for certain that Bully McMully existed is because his obit ran today in our local newspaper.

It’s an odd feeling to see a childhood bully’s name in the obituaries. But there it was.

And it was so sparse. No mention of what he did or what and whom he loved.

He lived in a house that bordered a section of my grandparent’s backyard. J, K1, K2 and I would play there unsupervised. Where were the parents? It was the 1970s. No parents, no car seats–heck, no seatbelts. Halloween? Go wherever. Take that candy from strangers.

Bully McMully would yell things at us. His bratty little sister Bully-in-training would yell things at us. He appeared to be 100 years old, but was likely in his teens. As anyone knows, for a child, anyone older is 100.

He looked like this:

Must. Crush. Children.

One day, we yelled back at his little sister. He was nowhere in sight. Possibly we felt protected by the invisible barrier of the yard or the fact our grandparents were somewhere in the same city if not the same vicinity as us–when suddenly Bully McMully appeared behind us, and grabbed my much younger brother by the throat and hurled him through a tree. That very last part might not have happened.

I asked my brother today what propelled us to yell things at Bully McMully’s sister knowing full well we could be in for an ass-kicking. He had no idea. Nor any memory of the throat grabbing. He’s more useless than me.

I think the main reason we did it is because we were odd. We invented strange games like “Drug Dealers.” I pushed weed, and had a hefty supply since maple samaras were the stand in for my chronic. I collected fistfuls in my sweaty hands just to get one eensy weensy black beauty, the red, likely poisonous berry found on a yew tree, which was hawked by my cousin K2. Let me be the first to say that none of our parents were actual drug dealers.

We played “Slaves,” a game that consisted of me and K2 doing whatever our older siblings ordered. “Stay on the back porch.” Why? “Do it slave!” We spied on the Baptist church that also bordered a section of the backyard. My familiarity with church was as such: It happened on Sundays. It lasted 15 minutes. You got there late, stood in the back and left early. K1 & K2 didn’t attend.

These people went to church all the time(!). Obviously something was afoot. It’s a cult, announced K1. Being the oldest, K1 knew everything so we decided her plan to infiltrate the church made sense. We lied down in the grass to conceal ourselves, and waited until the people entered the church. Then we ran to the door, gave it a half-hearted tug, and ran shrieking back to the grass.

So we likely thought taunting a bully’s sister was a good idea in the same vein a worm circus is a good idea. It seems to make sense to throw a bunch of worms on a slide on the hottest day in July and leave them be so they could “practice” their circus act, but really it just gets you shriveled or choked by someone much bigger and stronger.

I guess now I will never know the cause of our cantankerous relationship with Bully McMully, but one thing’s for certain.

It is never too late to investigate a church.

Road Trip

Dear Gentle Readers,

I have taken a break from Matt Lauer, the Today show and turds to take a trip down memory lane. Angie Z of the always sensational Childhood Relived, invited me to her blog for some needed respite from the stresses of the present such as watching Newt Gingrich pretend indignation. If you have not guessed from the title of her blog, Angie writes about her childhood so I thought it appropriate to share a tale from my own–and as to be suspected, it involves turds or more specifically a giant turd named “Brenda” who made my life miserable at day camp. Read more here. And then check out some of Angie’s posts. You will not be disappointed.

I shall be back in a few days refreshed and revived, and ready to write about reality television, celebrity divorces or whatever other turdish items get passed off as “news” on Today.

Wish you were here,

Speaker7