Or the (Very Long) Story of Why I Haven’t Slept in Four Nights…
I don’t watch scary movies. Correction: I can't watch scary movies… even the bad ones that lots of people find funny and not scary at all. And I’m not talking suspense/thrillers (love those!). I’m talking horror… those starring Jason, Freddy, Pinhead, Chucky, and any of their lovely friends. When I do watch one (and by ‘do’ I mean ‘am forced to’), I’m transformed from a reasonably (being the key word) confident, intelligent, rational individual into a blubbering, quivering, wild-eyed shell of my former self.
I blame Barnabas Collins.
For those of you younger than 40 (or not residing in the US), Barnabas Collins was a deliciously creepy, blood-sucking character in Dark Shadows, a gothic/horror soap opera that was on from 1966 to 1971. At 6 years old, I watched with relish (not the hotdog kind) and thus began my lifelong nocturnal dance with nightmares. And insomnia. My dad finally dictated that Barnabas Collins was off limits. I was crushed. But I did sleep a bit better… for a while.
As I got a bit older, I developed a real penchant for ghost stories. But ghost stories and kids with overactive imaginations don’t mix. So they were forbidden as well. Sigh. Older still (and in control of my own reading choices), I went back to them and discovered writers like Stephen King and John Saul. My creep addiction was fed regularly with few debilitating side effects, so I walked the scary movie route again. I did well. Well, I did pretty well… until the summer I spent at my Aunt Jean’s in NJ and I watched horror movie after horror movie until my nerves were frazzled and I jumped out of my skin if someone sneezed. One evening I was sitting on the front porch by myself, reading. Unknown to me, my dad had crept out the side door and around to the front of the house. He suddenly pulled himself up over the porch railing and screeched at me like a thing possessed. My (blood-curdling) scream was so loud the people across the street came to their windows (those would be the people on the third floor who were having a very noisy party). My dad, doubled over with laughter, went back into the house. When I’d just about recovered from the heart attack, I turned to say something through the window to my aunt. Instead of her, all I saw was my dad’s face, pressed against the screen, distorted and grotesque, as he howled at me again. An aneurysm followed the heart attack and I nearly died. I was finished with horror movies from that point forward. F.I.N.I.S.H.E.D.
Then some time later came The (edited for television but not edited enough) Exorcist. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this but my older brother (the one I like) is deaf. And while most television programs and movies have been closed-captioned for a long time, that showing of The Exorcist on our local station was not. So he asked me to watch it with him and interpret. I would have, honestly, had my eyes not been closed, had my fingers not been in my ears, and had I not been rocking myself, singing ‘la la la la la la la’ over and over in an attempt not to hear the horrific sounds emanating from Linda Blair. He kept coming over and pulling my fingers out of my ears, asking me what was being said. I still feel bad about letting him down but there’s a part of me that thinks he was just torturing me and he actually read their lips through the whole movie (he is my father’s son, after all). Needless to say, it was my last horror movie for two decades.
And that brings me to nearly present day. When I was in London in October, I somehow wound up watching a creeper with my friend Todd. That would be Todd, the horror junkie. He actually writes horror movies. Being scared out of his mind is not an issue for Todd. So we’re in the middle of The Grudge with Sarah Michelle Gellar and the music and the creepy little Japanese ghosts are totally wigging me out. I’m holding Todd’s hand in a death grip because 1) I needed to be touching another human being and 2) I figured if I was holding his hand, he couldn’t grab me with the intention of scaring the ever-lovin’ shit out of me (which he would totally do). And just as it’s getting seriously scary, Todd announces he’s going to bed. "What? Bed? Now? In the middle? But… but… but… I can’t be left alone," whimpers I. "Tough. I have to work tomorrow," replies he (with absolultely no sympathy I might add). "Shit. Shit. Shit-oh-dear," whines I. I had to change the channel, of course, as there was no way (in stinkin' Hell) I could watch it on my own and I had to get the creepy out of my head before I could sleep. But nothing worked. I lay there, all alone, listening to the creaking of an old London flat as it settled; to all the unfamiliar sounds that normally wouldn’t have fazed me. I had the blanket over my head (and if you knew how hot Todd keeps his flat, you would know that I nearly suffocated myself... willingly). I couldn’t sleep. I was so scared I almost crawled into Todd’s bed. He’s a big guy and he has a black belt… not that a black belt would have helped against ghosts, but I figured it was still better than my defense method (screaming and peeing in my pants). Am I right? I did make it through the night (by myself) but those creepy little Japanese ghosts stayed with me.
So, four nights ago I was watching HGTV… House Hunters International to be specific. A woman was looking for a flat in Hong Kong and some of the places she was seeing were real holes (half-a-million-dollar holes, but holes nonetheless). I was thinking how creepy it would be to live in those dumps. So when I went to bed right after, who came to visit me in my sleep? Those scary little Japanese ghosts from The Grudge, that’s who! And yes, I totally know that Hong Kong is in China and I don’t mean to sound all ignorant and un-PC by mixing up Asian people… errr… ghosts (it was a dream, people! And my friend Rae, who is half-Japanese was in it, too… not sure what relevance that has to this story, but she was). Anyway, I woke up, after being nearly murdered by the scary Japanese ghosts in the creepy Chinese flat, paralyzed and in a cold nightmare sweat. God, how I hate that. After about an hour, I managed to get back to sleep… ONLY TO HAVE THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUE (which has never happened to me)! I woke up again, paralyzed and sweating, at 4:30… and I never went back to sleep. Nightmare ends. Insomnia ensues.
And that, my bloggy friends, is the (very long) story of why I haven’t slept in four nights. I’m so friggin’ tired, it’s not funny. I really think if I had someone to sleep with, I’d be OK.
Soooooo… anyone want to join me tonight? It’s OK if you snore. Or hog the blankets. Really. I don’t mind. Anyone? Anyone? Whimper… sniff… anyone?