Sunday, July 15, 2012
My Earliest Scaries
The Shoprite Can-Can Girls.
If you grew up in the 80s, and if your town had a Shoprite, then most likely you remember these entertaining commercials. Us kids were drawn to them because they featured cartoon people in motion. And kids freakin love cartoons! Except these animated, provocatively-clad beauties scared the sweet loving beejebus out of me for some reason! I kid you not. I would lie awake in bed some nights (no, seriously, I would!) afraid to close my eyes for fear of seeing these high-kicking femme fatales sweeping down the supermarket aisles as I ran and ran and ran away from them.
ABC Eyewitness News, Late Night Edition.
Hey, don't look at me like that. Yes, it was a news program. Here in NYC Eyewitness News would, and still does, air on local channel 7. The little intro music that played back when I was a kid is still in use to this day. But back then, it would put the fear of God into me!
To this day I shudder a little whenever Eyewitness News comes on and that damn urgent jingling begins. Oddly enough, apparently I had a part to play in the top news of the night--as seen in the clip below. According to legend--okay, okay, according to my grandma--my mother got herself and 10-month old little me trapped down in the subway during the start of that infamous city-wide blackout. I was told I behaved very well and never made a sound, though. Which is probably true, but also probably explains why I was so deftly afraid of the dark as a toddler. Hmm, I wonder what could have happened down in those tunnels . . .
Tales From The Darkside.
I don't think much explanation needs to be given here. This was a scary television show which ran in the 80s, and if you watch the opening sequence below you can well understand why it might give a little boy nightmares. Oh. My. GOD! That chilling music . . . that ominous voice over . . . the bright, sunny landscape switching over to monochrome darkness. It got me every. single. time! And yet, despite being terrified of this show, I absolutely loved it! I'm not much of a horror fan today (too silly for my tastes), but back between the ages of 5 and 12, this stuff ruled my world. Did it rule yours?
The Twilight Zone.
Ah, at last. The granddaddy of all nightmarish triggers. At least, when we're talking scary soundtracks. Like Tales above, the music to The Twilight Zone opening scared the living hell out of me. Especially since I was very young when I first started watching the show in syndication. I guess the composers who come up with these sick melodies really know what they're doing. Because, while being too young at first to even understand what each episode was about, I somehow knew at the time that this was a show I probably shouldn't be watching. And whenever that music played -- oh man! I would curl up and clutch my pajamas top to my chin. So deliciously scaaaaaary!
And there you have it. Yes, I was a very interesting little boy, as you can see. I'm not ashamed to admit what spooked me back then. The invisible man living in our closet. The landlord's demonic dobermans in the basement of our building. And even The Watusi! Again, don't ask.
But it's fun in the safety of adulthood to look back and marvel at the crazy little warped perception of the world I held back then. I guess if I were to put on my sociologist hat here for sec, it only lends credence to the theory that a lot of human civilization as we know today arose from explaining away the night terrors our ancestors faced when looking out into this big bad world of ours and imagining what must be waiting out there to pounce at us from out of the darkness. In some ways, institutions like religion, philosophy, and science developed as a means to shed light on these collected "scaries" of the human race. And now, here we are today.
I guess it's only a natural part of our individual development, then, to be so afraid of everything as children. The world doesn't yet make sense to us at this stage. And being afraid, in a weird way, is the first step toward understanding and eventual enlightenment.
Yeah, that's a nice thought. But damn if I still don't feel like curling up into the fetal position whenever that blasted Twilight Zone theme plays!
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