Monday, October 16, 2006

Boogeyman Scared Me Good

Halloween is a mere 2 weeks and a day away so I'm going to devote some posts to fear. Fear that makes your hair stand on end, your pulse race, and your mind to question its sanity. Welcome to Wally's spookhouse; a land of shadows and fog, shifting realities pulled and mixed from memories and dreams. And frogs. I can't forget the frogs. But first, let's pay a visit to the boogeyman.

I was around 4 years old and we lived on Manson Pike which at the time was well out in the country. I spent my days in the usual pursuit of youth: played with my Tonka truck, climbed trees, explored the dark cobweb filled corner of the shed where my rabbit, Bloody, lived, played golf with the walnut shells scattered over the yard, watched Captain Kangaroo and Walt Disney on our black & white televsion, or dozens of other activities that were certainly important in my imagination. Since we were in a rural area I was allowed to play outside with no adult supervision. The rules were simple. I couldn't play in the front yard because I might run out into the road and I couldn't climb the back yard fence since old Mr. Johnson kept cattle in the woods behind the house. And I had to come in when my parents called because if I stayed outside at dusk the boogeyman would get me.

This boogeyman was described to me as an old black man who carried a big sack over his shoulders. He would come out when it got dark and scoop up children and put them into the sack. When he got home he'd pour the children into a big pot, cook them, and eat them. I figured my parents were full of it even though I was only 4. If there was some dude doing that he'd get sent to jail. So I always stayed out until it was dark. Until that day when the boogeyman came for me.

What's really funny is that I wasn't even outside. I was in the back room of the house playing with my Hot Wheels cars since I could send them skittering across the plastic tile at super speed. The sun had just gone down when there came a knock on the back storm door. I jumped up and ran to the door since it was my thing to go open the door whenever somebody knocked. This was something my parents didn't really like. I was about to cured of this because as I threw open the door there stood a black man with a sack over his shoulder. He started to speak, but before he could get a word out I began screaming so loud it caused my mother to drop her glass of sweet tea.

I blindly ran into her, bounced off, and headed toward my bedroom stammering and crying about how the boogeyman's after me. It took some coaxing from my parents, but eventually I learned that the boogeyman with the sack was really my father's friend, Andrew, who had come to go night fishing with him. The bag was for the fish they hoped to catch. I don't know how my parents explained to Andrew why I acted in such a way. I doubt they said, "Well, our kid was scared of you because we taught him that the boogeyman was black", but it better have made them think about how stupid it was to tell such a story to a little kid.

Results of this fearful event: I was never scared of the boogeyman again, not that I was scared before at least until I opened the back storm door. My father and Andrew remained friends until Andrew died a few years back. I never rush to open any door. And when I told my own children about the boogeyman he wasn't a black guy. He was just a generally malevolent spirit. Which scared my kids so badly it made me feel as ashamed as my parents should have back in the early 1970's.

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