10 Things That Freaked Me Out As A Child

For no particular reason, here are my childhood fears laid out in an easy to access top ten list:

10. Giraffes under the door – My mother put a rubber strip on the bottom of the door to the garage. I asked her what it was for. She told me it was “to keep the giraffes out.” This was creepy because up to that point I didn’t think giraffes lived in Connecticut, nor could I imagine them sticking their long necks under the door if the rubber strip wasn’t there. I can’t remember how old I was when I figured out that she actually said “drafts.”

9. The Boogens – I never saw this movie but television execs assaulted my childhood by repeatedly showing commercials for this horror movie during my favorite shows. There was a time when I had to leave the room during commercial breaks. Other movies that freaked me out as a kid include The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, Poltergeist, the boat scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and the whole “astronaut goes into a hotel and becomes and old man and then a giant floating space fetus” sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

8. Richard Nixon – Like most children, I had my share of monsters under the bed, and a recurring dream of a triceratops marauding through my bedroom. Less typical, I often had nightmares of Richard Nixon hiding in my closet. Granted, I never heard much good about him and he was kind of creepy looking, but the linking of Nixon with the bogeyman seems a stretch to me today.

7. Bugs – One house we lived in had an infestation of water bugs with something like a million legs each. Very creepy. Really any insect or arachnid large enough that I could see their joints freaked me out. And then there were the Indian Meal Moths in the pantry. I’m too creeped out to write about them.

6. The basement staircase – The last house I lived in as a child had a steep, creaky wooden staircase with no railing leading to the basement. I was convinced I was going to meet my end falling down those steps.

5. Mummenschanz – What the heck were they thinking showing these creepy mimes with toilet paper on their heads on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show?!

4. Land of the Lost – I think more than anything else it was the poor production values and that tree with all the computer control panels, and the fact that none of this made any sense that freaked me out. Apparently, it was just a Sleestak library.

3. The Public Hospital – Colonial Williamsburg very boldly reconstructed the first mental hospital in the US and opened it as a museum in the 1980’s. It was a big move for a living history museum to show another side of colonial/early American life apart from the homes of wealthy colonists. And they figured the best way to get their educational message across would be by scaring the crap out of children. Included in the exhibit were representations of cells with audio recordings of raving lunatics shaking their shackles. This was freakier than if they’d put in manikins or even live actors, because the empty cell with the audio recordings just sounded like ghosts. Creepy lunatic ghosts.

2. The Van de Graaff generator – The Museum of Science wins the prize among museums for freaking me out. Basically two large balls produce gigantic bolts of lightning and we’re supposed to just stand there and think some piano wire will save us. Yeah right. I ran my little legs off and hid in the brain exhibit. I haven’t been back to the MOS Theater of Electricity since I moved to Boston either. Granted natural thunder and lightning storms also freaked me out as a child (and they still do).

1. King Kong bank – My mom and grandmother were going shopping. I wanted to go but they wanted me to stay at home and watch the game on tv with my dad. Instead, I threw a temper tantrum and then fell asleep on the floor. Meanwhile, while shopping my mom felt guilty and decided to get me a treat: a plastic King Kong piggy bank! She placed it by my head so I would see when I woke up. Needless to say, they were not tears of joy that I shed when I woke up to see a big ape grimacing at me. Later on though, I became very fond of King Kong and when I built the Empire State Building with wooden blocks I would place him on top.

9 thoughts on “10 Things That Freaked Me Out As A Child

  1. Bigfoot was my biggest fear as a child. That national geographic with the footage of a big hunk of meat being ripped off the tree at night scared the sh*t out me! I don’t care that Bigfoot was on the otherside of the continent–he was coming across the rockies for ME!

    After that, but should have been before, was the knowledge that someday my parents will pass on. That’s not something a child should be confronted with.


  2. RE: #8 — I don’t see any stretch in seeing Nixon as the boogeyman — Nixon WAS scary at the time — it’s just that what has come after him is unbelievably WORSE.

    Re: #1 — Just before you started to scream, Grandma and I were heading toward you to get the King Kong bank because we realized it wasn’t such a good idea to have you wake up with King Kong in your face ….. despite the fact that you were already very fond of King Kong.

    Re: # 7 — As for the bugs — I never DID find out what they were, but they were not waterbugs — they looked a lot like the plastic bug you were shaking in my face when I woke up from a nap one day — I screamed a lot louder and longer than you did over King Kong, so that is a wash.


  3. oh, my goodness–I thought I was the only one who had a pathological fear of Mummenschanz! There was something so frustrating about watching them especially when they rolled around in those black amoeba bags. icky. And then the toilet paper rolls as eyes. (shudder)


  4. You will be happy to know that the pest inspector found no traces of Indian meal moths in our new abode. He says they are often the result of buying grains and foods in bulk and then having them sit around for a long time.

    As a child, I was freaked out by the concept that snakes could crawl into my bed at night when I was asleep and bite me. (Please keep the Freudian comments to yourself.)

    Also flying ants giving birth.


  5. The legs were not as long as in Liam’s picture — I think the things that were in the basement when we moved in were silverfish — they DID disappear. After I screamed about the plastic “grasshopper” — most of the neighbors disappeared too! BTY, the owner of our house thought the screams came from the house on our other side because she hated that family because they owned pick-up trucks. SHE was something scary in your childhood too, wasn’t she? I know she WAS something scary in my 30’s.

    Once upon a time I saw some mealy moths flying around the pasta section at the Williamsburg Pottery Factory — it just involves buying the wrong bag/box of something — which is why I put my grains in jars once I get them home — if some illegal alien bug has come home, it won’t get its green card in MY pantry.


  6. Shouldn’t it have been J Edgar Hoover in your closet? Or would that have been Barbara’s closet?


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