Sunday, September 6, 2015


When I was growing up, I was afraid of everything. The dark. Spooky places like ship wrecks and airplane crashes,Haunted Houses. Dead bodies and snakes. I had to experience the dark every night. Snakes were a possibility, but the others were highly unlikely.

Where did all those fears come from?

We lived near a small airport, and the boys who lived near by told me the airplanes came alive at night and ate people. I was afraid those airplanes would come and get me in my sleep.

Those were the days of scary television dramas like “Twilight Zone.” I would watch an episode about a lost airplane, and I’d have nightmares for days afterward.

My mother used to get “Life” magazine. The pages were filled with graphic pictures of plane crashes, burned children and disaster aftermath. I tried to avoid looking at the pages of that magazine, but it was always there. Sometimes the magazine sitting on the coffee table would be open to the most horrible picture in the book.

When I was about eight years old, the Andrea Doria, a luxury ocean liner collided with another ship, the Stockholm. I watched the Andrea Doria sink. I had nightmares, not only then, but every time I thought about the ship. It’s in the deepest, spookiest part of the ocean, and many experienced divers have died exploring the Andrea Doria as it lies in its grave.

If there was a fear out there, it seemed ready to attach itself to me.

I remember the first time I saw a snake.

I was a preschooler sitting in the house with my parents, when the dogs outside started barking. They were making quite a ruckus. My dad was going to get up and see what it was about, but I jumped up and said, “I’ll see. I’ll see.”

I went out and saw the dogs barking at what I thought was this really pretty colorful striped cord. It looked like a jump rope. I was going to pick it up and start jumping rope. I started to approach it, but the dogs got in my way. They gently pushed me away and barked more fiercely than ever.

“What’s going on?” My parents came outside.

“See,” I pointed. I still thought it was a jump rope, but it startled me by moving.

My dad killed the snake, and then my mother said I should touch it so I wouldn’t be afraid of snakes.

The dogs went wild when I started toward the dead snake. They wouldn’t let me touch it. Thank heavens.

I am afraid of snakes. I don’t think touching it would have made a difference.

TRY THIS: Write about something you are afraid of. Why do you think you are afraid of this something? What experiences have you had real or imaginary?

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