Since Halloween was this week, “scary” has been on my mind. It was definitely on my mind when I looked in the mirror this morning, but that’s another story.
“Scary” is such a versatile word. Halloween costumes are good-scary. Haunted houses and ghost stories are creepy-good-scary. Politicians are scary in a stomach-churning, “eeeuw-I-don’t-want-to-think-about-it” way.
There’s exciting-scary, when you’re hurtling down a black-diamond ski run and you catch an edge and almost lose it but you don’t, and the adrenaline slams into your veins and you let out a whoop and haul ass to the bottom grinning like a maniac.
There’s the detached sort of scary you get when you’re airborne immediately after parting company with your dirt bike or slipping on the stairs. It’s that short moment that takes approximately forever to experience, and your brain has exactly enough time to say in calm and reasonable tones, “Oh, shit, this is really going to hurt!”
And then there’s scary-scary. The kind of scary that makes your heart pound and your hands sweat. The kind of scary that makes you drop your shoulder like a defensive tackle and fling little old ladies in all directions as you bull your way through the lineup to get to the toilet before you shit your pants.
Well, maybe not really. And anyway, that only happened once. Don’t bug me.
My point is, even though “scary” is technically defined as a bad thing, we search it out in so many ways. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be something scary for Halloween. Some people would argue that I achieved “scary” on a regular basis, but they may be exaggerating. Though I do have a vivid memory of my mother saying, “Try not to be so… ferocious.” It wasn’t even Halloween.
But I never wanted to be a clown or a princess or a ballerina. I wanted to be a pirate, a headless person, or some other horrifying apparition. I wanted to make people shiver in abject terror. Note the clenched fist and fearsome grimace. I was seven at the time, and my sword was tinfoil-covered cardboard. I wanted a bigger, scarier sword, but cardboard wasn’t to be wasted and tinfoil was expensive.
When I got old enough to understand real fear, “scary” lost some of its attraction. But still, in fiction and movies, we have to have a dose of scary, or the storyline just seems flat. It makes me wonder if cave men sat around telling scary stories, too, or whether they had enough “scary” in their lives without making any up.
What is it about that burst of adrenaline? Maybe it’s the relief afterward. Maybe it’s the bragging rights when you’re sitting in the pub telling the story with a cold one in your hand, and your friends shiver and exclaim and laugh in all the right places.
I don’t know. All I know is, it’s my corporate yearend, and I have to wade through my financial records again. That’s a whole different kind of scary. And that story isn’t going to hold anybody enthralled at the pub, either.
P.S. I’ll be with my step-mom for the next week or two while she starts her chemo treatments, so I may be slow in responding to comments, and I might not make it around to comment on my favourite blogs. I’m still thinking of you, though. Thanks for visiting!