Death. Dying. Being deceased forever and ever.
Yeah I’m one of those…
I don’t believe the people that say they aren’t afraid of death. The same people who claim to be OK with the fact that at any second they could cease to exist, will claim to fear clowns, spiders and heights. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard something like “I’m not afraid of reaching my expiration date, I mean it happens to everybody… but put me in a room with a rabid tiger and I’ll shit my pants.”
While I can admit that the image of a giant cat foaming at the mouth with Cujo eyes scares the bejeezus out of me, what I’m really afraid of is what’s going to happen once those demon teeth crunch my body in half. Even though I’m a little scared of the pain that this situation is going to inflict on my sensitive skin, what really concerns me is what will become of me after it’s all said and done. It’s death.
A couple of years ago I came up with this theory that every fear- no matter how minute or irrelevant it may seem- is actually a manifestation of a fear of death. If a person says they are afraid of spiders, they are actually afraid of getting stung and dying. When person is afraid of “flying,” what they’re actually afraid of “crashing and dying.” When someone says they are scared of rotoscope animation, they’re are actually afraid that the anxiety that those rotoscope freaks of art gives her is going to cause her to have a heart attack and subsequently die.
Even as a kid I was obsessed with all things “scary.” My mom got me fixed on horror movies at the ripe age of five. “Fixed” really is the best way to describe it, because it becomes an addiction, doesn’t it? When I wasn’t sitting Indian style in front of the television watching Child’s Play or Pet Cemetary 2 for the thirteenth time, I was in my room in the dark, willing myself to really believe that there was a giant slug like creature under my bed, just waiting for me to let one of my limbs make it’s way over to the side of the bed so it could slurp me up with it’s giant snake like tongue.
Looking back, it wasn’t really the “slake” that I was afraid of. At that age, I wasn’t yet jaded enough to assume that every ugly creature was bad. I’d seen enough film to know not to judge a monster by his appearance. I mean really. The filmmakers of my youth were really quite obsessed with pushing my generation to fall in love with the monster. They taught me that a shriveled, turd-like alien could end up being my best friend. They taught me that that a fire breathing Luckdragon might just be my ride to safety. They taught me to be aware that if I ever came across a deformed giant while searching for buried treasure, he was more likely to crave nut-filled candy bars than my own flesh and guts.
But for all of the monsters Hollywood has taught me to love, it also taught me that for every Gizmo, there are 500 Spikes.
Which is precisely why I never let my legs hang over the side of the bed. I didn’t know whether or not I could trust it. I was scared of getting eaten to death.
I still crave fear, but my fears have shifted over the years. While the idea of monsters and ghosts still get my blood pumping, I no longer have to leap five feet to get out of my bed in the middle of the night just to avoid coming Slake’s dinner. Gone are the days when I would push the pee out of me as fast as I could and run back to bed without wiping or flushing for fear that if I sit there long enough, the toilet monster will chomp me up until I look like the result of bad hangover. What used to scare me, now excites me.
Now I spend my time thinking about more grown up scary things that might lead to my demise. I fear that all those doodle bugs in LA’s bathroom are a sign that a brown recluse is living in my house, just waiting to kill me. I’m scared that I’ll get eaten by a shark if I go out too far into the ocean. I fear that a tornado will come and rip me to shreds and scatter me all the way to Wyoming. And I’m scared that a man in a mask will come and shoot me death when I’m walking to my car at night. (Especially that last one since it almost happened. )
But mostly I fear everyday not-always-scary things. Every time I go to push an electrical cord into a socket, I fear that I have forgotten that I have just washed my hands, and that I’m about to turn myself into bacon. I can’t step out of the shower without imagining myself slipping on a puddle and hitting my head on the toilet, then I somehow manage to catch myself with the shower curtain… but when I grab it I slip again and the shower curtain wraps itself around my neck and I strangle to death. Every time I prepare to walk down the stairs I just know that I’m going to slip and fall, coming to a skidding halt at the bottom of the stairs where my head will hit an unforseen giant nail and I will lie there slowly dying in my own pool of guts while my roommate’s Bassett Hound gnaws away at my legs because she’ll eat absolutely anything.
Actually, that last one about falling down the stairs almost happened last week. It wasn’t the greatest fall I’ve ever taken, but it was the greatest fall I’ve ever had without an alcohol shield.
I was carrying a load of garbage downstairs before work, and was still wearing my so called “no slip” footies when I lost my balance at the top of the stairs. I hit my head on the first stair, and on every stair that followed. As I fell, I had one of those moments they have in the movies when your whole life flashes before your eyes. I swear. I saw my parents, my dog, my sister, my 9th grade Science teacher and a grilled egg and cheese sandwich. When the momentum of the front door halted my tumble, I lay there in complete quiet for a few moments to access my situation. I couldn’t tell if I was dead or if it was just dark because it was 5:30AM and I hadn’t turned on any of the lights yet. I was afraid to try to move bcause I didn’t want to find out that my soul was no longer connected to my body.
Death I tell you, it really gets to me.
But alas, it turns out I could move. My head wasn’t bleeding and there was no dog eating away at my spilling guts. Besides a few bruised ribs, I wasn’t even hurt at all.
Since I survived, I figure I should tell you my near death revelation that discounts my whole “every fear is actually a fear of death” theory.
While I was lying there, I realized that there was something that I feared that wasn’t a fear of death itself per se, but it was more of a fear of what would happen happen the fact.
I thought, If I’m dead, and Shelby gets full before she eats every bite of me up, and the Dexter people are able to figure out that I died after taking a great fall down the stairs… then all of my friends are going to get to say “That Carissa, I always knew she’d die falling down the stairs. HAHA oh that Carissa.”