Dislikes #1

24 Jan

I don’t like being scared.  The idea that I would even need to say that (or type that) seems crazy to me.  Isn’t this a given?  A universal truth?  It’s like saying “I don’t like breaking my hip” or “mistaking a rock for a pistachio is a bummer.”  I mean, I enjoy a good chase scene (like those bits in Finding Nemo that are touch-and-go) as much as the next guy.  And who doesn’t like a suspenseful story line (remember when we didn’t know for sure if Julia Stiles was going to be admitted to Julliard for her raw and tortured urban angst ballet?)?  But volunteering to watch someone get stabbed in the shower?  No.  My threshold for horror lies between books 4 and 5 of the Harry Potter chronicles.  I do not pursue terror in my leisure hours for the same reason I don’t spend that time repeatedly stubbing my toe on my ridiculously sharp bed frame.  It’s unpleasant.  I don’t like it.

But for some, bafflingly, this is not the case.  As I write this my dear husband is reading some terrifying story by Stephen King (do NOT get him started on why Stephen King is and will remain history’s greatest author.  Or… on second thought, do – it’s a glimpse into Nathan’s strange perfection).  He will perhaps follow that with one of his other favorite activities – a late-night solo viewing of a horror film (we’re talking obscenely scary Japanese business and the like – the really, REALLY terrifying stuff) .  He doesn’t feel afraid when he reads or watches these things.  He doesn’t feel the need to look in the closet, or double-check that the door is locked, or create his own ghost-busting backpack-dustbuster-hybrid (more on this some other time, perhaps).  Curious….  I can’t imagine what that’s like.  I can’t fathom taking any kind of pleasure in a horrifying scenario.

I bring it up, because the other night some friends were over and we got to talking about scary books and movies.  It was a good time to share what is perhaps (according to Nathan) the origin of my hate for all things horror.

In the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I was in Germany at the end of a 4 week tour with a youth choir.  I was homesick and thoroughly sick of sausage (which, if you know me, is really saying something).  The only thing standing between me and my flight home was one more night with one more host family.  I plastered on my largest, be-braced smile (and what I’m sure was no small amount of Mary Kay makeup), stuck out my hand and said “Gutten Tag!”  A couple of hours of nodding and sausage later, I went downstairs to meet my 17-year-old host sister and her friends who were mid-slumber party and certainly really psyched to add a 14-year-old choir nerd to their festivities.  The decor in her basement room (or lair as I soon re-categorized it) consisted mainly in pentagram posters, drawings of demons, and all manner of Hot Topic wares.  Satan chic.  I’m sure it was much less menacing then I remember it, being that I was an 8th grade DC Talk devote at the time.

All I wanted to do was curl up in my sleeping bag, let 8 hours painlessly elapse, and wake up the next morning.  But they took great pains to wait for me to begin the main event – a viewing of Silence of the Lambs (and by “great pains” I mean “deep slugs” of vodka).  Even pals who enjoy being voluntarily terrorized by books or movies admit that this particular film is especially scary, but I would venture that it’s made even more so by the german language.  Overhearing a deutch conversation about even the most mundane topic can make you feel like a fist fight is about to break out.  So – to break it down – in my homesick and nerdy state, I spent an evening with people I believed to be aspiring Satanists, watching Silence of the Lambs in German with english subtitles (so that I had to LOOK at it the WHOLE time once I had been sucked in by the story).  It was a bad night.  There were many quaking tears and fervent prayers and it was sometime around the revelation that pulleys can be used for great evil that I swore off horror of any kind.

I really don’t feel like I’m missing anything.  Nathan (who believes that if you’re not reading Stephen King, you’re not reading at your full potential) begs to differ.  Hopefully our marriage can survive this tremendous divide.

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