Space Invaders

I wanted to write a creepy post for Halloween, and I asked several friends for suggestions. Every single one of them, without exception, said I should write about Trump. That, in itself, is pretty darned scary. But I think we are so used to being scared by him that it’s hard to feel the fear anymore. So I decided to write the below, instead.)

In the house I bought, there are dozens of large dents on both steel exterior doors, and on one wooden bedroom door as well. The only thing the previous owner would tell me was that there was “an incident” involving a tenant and her boyfriend. The fact that he would not go into detail leaves my imagination to run wild.

Given that these are sturdy storm doors, whatever blunt object was used to do this damage must have been heavy, and the sound must have been loud and terrifying. No person in his right mind does a thing like that. And if the damage to the bedroom door happened at the same time, then the perpetrator gained entry. The thought of that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all walk around in this bubble of security, and when it is popped, it’s beyond frightening. It challenges your sense of reality. It makes you feel as if there’s nowhere to hide. The reason most of us reside in this bubble is that knowing that it’s all an illusion would make it impossible to cope.

I used to work the graveyard shift on this tiny little bridge with an office the size of a closet. I was surrounded by windows for increased visibility when I had to do a bridge opening, but that basically meant that I was in a goldfish bowl, and anyone who wanted to mess with me could easily do so. Needless to say, I kept the blinds closed whenever possible. But that also meant I couldn’t see what was going on out on the street.

It was a very isolated job, which normally suits me just fine. Even though I was in a metropolitan area, at 3 a.m. it often felt as if I were the only person on the planet. And when the fog rolled in, that tiny room seemed like a coffin. (People with claustrophobia didn’t last in that job for very long.)

Late one night, I was on duty, and two teenage boys started pounding on the door. (Isn’t it always teenage boys? They should be sent to roam in packs on some remote Pacific island from the age of 14 to 25. I truly believe our crime rate would plummet.)

I nearly soiled myself. I peeked out the blinds and said, “What the #### do you want?”

The ringleader says, “Let us in. We want to see you do a bridge opening.”

My reply, of course, was, “F*** off, before I call the cops.”

But they continued to pound on the door and rattle the knob. (Years later, I can’t get the image of that rattling doorknob out of my head.) It occurred to me that there was just a thin film of bullet-resistant glass between me and these nut jobs, and the stuff was feeling pretty darned flimsy at that moment. And out there on my bridge, no one would hear me scream. Also, by the time the cops got there, well, it would be bad. (And by the way, the cops never showed up. As per usual.)

Eventually they left without getting in, or getting me. But then I got to spend the rest of the shift worrying that they might have vandalized my car. (They hadn’t. Not that time. They just threw the heavy duty trash can at the foot of the bridge into the river. )

Oh, and did I mention that in order to use the bathroom on that bridge you had to go across the street to the other building? Wonderful.

My point is, the reason the thought of the boogeyman in your closet or the thing under the bed or the clown in the storm drain is so unsettling for most of us is that these things violate your bubble of security. Clearly, they are up to no good. They rattle your doorknob. They shake your foundations.

And that’s completely understandable. Because sometimes you’re not being paranoid. Sometimes they really are out to get you.

Happy Halloween.

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Security Blankets

When I was little I had a security blanket. No, I wasn’t as bad as Linus. I didn’t take it everywhere I went. But I did sleep with it and it gave me a great deal of comfort during some really trying times. It was made of flannel, so it deteriorated as the years went by. Toward the end it was barely the size of a hand towel, and a very ragged and tattered hand towel at that. At one point my mother threw it away, but I fished it back out of the trash.

Oddly enough, I can’t really remember that transitional day when it was no longer there. It must have been a blow, or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe I was ready. The memory is lost to me. But the other day I realized that I still have a security blanket of sorts.

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 3 years old. I can’t wear contacts because I have too many peaks and valleys in my corneas, and while surgery would improve my vision, I’d still need glasses according to the doctor, so what’s the point? So I am a glasses girl. And seriously, I cannot function without them, so they are on, and have been on, every waking moment of my life for the past 45 years.

Not only do I feel blind without my glasses, but I also feel very naked and exposed. I hide behind these glasses. Always have. Always will. There. I admit it.

But I suspect that a lot of people have security blankets of one type or another, whether they know it or not. I can think of several people who would freak right out without their cell phones, or feel incomplete when not wearing a watch, and more than one plumber has been paid a fortune to retrieve a wedding ring from a sink drain. Archie Bunker had his special chair, and Gilligan had his hat.

Not all security blankets are blankets. But what’s wrong with needing a little security in this insecure world of ours?

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