I was listening to an old Halloween-oriented episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour this week, and the theme that the panel was discussing was "pop culture that scares you". And while I heartily agree with Glen Wheldon that there is something inexplicably disturbing about Bing Crosby's Sleepy Hollow Song, what I would have discussed if I had been invited to sit in with the gang is my fear of creepy things of the monster/alien/mascot persuasion.
It might have all started when I was five year old and in kindergarten, when my mom asked me if I wanted to "stay up past my bedtime" (of course I did!) and "go see a movie!" (yippee!). So my mom, ever the fan of science fiction, took me not to see E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. I liked the part with the Reese's Pieces, sure, but after seeing this movie, I was pretty convinced that there had to be E.T. living behind the furnace in our basement (thus, it was dangerous to walk past it to get to the washing machine), or E.T. living behind the chest freezer in the basement (thus, it was dangerous to even go down the stairs to the basement), or the might even be E.T. hiding amongst my toys in the basement. That last one seemed like it was the biggest betrayal of them all.
Before you laugh, remember that I was only five years-old!
But my fears did not end there. My dreams were largely populated by vampires and invisible ghosts that would lure me away from my family with levitating phantom ice cream cones and chocolate bars, only to snatch me up and ... well, I don't know what come after the "and ..." because that's when I'd wake up from my nightmares.
The worst offender of all, even worse then E.T., was the A&W Root Bear. I would lay awake for hours after being tucked in for the night, imagining that I could hear the Root Bear coming to kidnap me, each sinister step punctuated with his "ba-dum ba-dum" tuba theme music. I was terrified of this fast-food chain mascot like nothing else. I don't know why.
I had a healthy distrust of anyone wearing similar mascot costumes like that for many years. Even Mickey. Even Fred Flintstone before Bedrock City in Kelowna closed down. To be honest, I'm still a little suspicious.