50 Fearsome Things

Years ago, my girlfriend and I had a conversation about how we each pursue a good adrenaline rush. We concluded that she seeks her thrills with her body. No summer would be complete for her without several trips to an amusement park. She drives fast and confidently, even in weather conditions that force me to tuck myself under a blanket on the sofa. She knows how to water ski, snowmobile and back up a trailer. Her career goal is business management and she’s moving along that track with astonishing speed. She’s straightforward and, occasionally confrontational. Her life is about action, achievement and movement.

My lifestyle, in contrast, flows slowly and deliberately. My character is cautious and rather calculating. I do not leap before I look. Ever. In fact, I rarely leap at all, even after careful consideration of all the potential variables inherent within a given situation.

In my childhood, neither my nature nor my environment encouraged physicality. Of course I sampled some adventures. I remember climbing trees I wasn’t supposed to climb. I remember a golden week of vacation when I taught myself to dive into a pool headfirst, even though I couldn’t actually swim. (I just fearlessly bobbed my way back to the side after each dive.) I think we’re all born knowing that we can, and should, seek a little danger-fueled adrenaline.

With few exceptions, though, such thrill-seeking resulted not in fun for me but rather … discomfort. My body was strong enough to tackle any of it, but my psyche was not so equipped. When I “acted up” people looked at me. God, I used to hate that. The adults weren’t so bad; all they did was tell me to knock it off. School peers, however, were entirely different. They didn’t say much, but I saw contempt–whether imagined or not–in their eyes. No matter what physical activity I attempted in their presence, I failed. Strengths I’d gained from living on a farm didn’t serve me in the gymnasium or on playground equipment. I knew how to catch goats, not dodge balls.

It wasn’t only self consciousness that held me back. I always feared that I would be seriously hurt by derring-do. As a natural loner, I knew there likely would be no one around to help if I got into trouble. It seemed best to skip the sort of stuff that other kids enjoyed, and stick to what I was good at … and what I was good at was observing and learning, not taking risks.

Much of my aversion to thrill-seeking followed me into adulthood. I still suspect that others are watching–and judging–me. I still imagine I will be alone–or worse, in charge of someone more vulnerable than me–if there is an accident. Now I also fear shoddy maintenance in theme parks and failing brakes on vehicles and muggers down dark alleys.

My caution and paranoia must force me to lead a boring life, right? Actually, no – because I’m a mental thrill seeker. (Though, I think, most people would just call me morbid.)

In my early teens–perhaps thanks to Stephen King–I found that I could get “high” on horror fiction. Then I realized, that I enjoyed being “creeped out” in any situation. I could experience a neuro-chemically fueled rush without putting myself in any real, physical danger. I got to feel alive … without tempting fate. As an additional benefit, I’d found something that had the ability to make me stop thinking about the neurotic, nagging uncertainties of my adolescence. (Which included all the usual teenage trials AND a mother with a disconcerting habit of creating beautiful situations, relationships and homesteads, then tearing them apart. I guess she was restless.) 

I became addicted to the pursuit and exploration of all sorts of creepy, fearsome things, including:


(Just for clarification, I’ve color-coded the list: Good Creepy v. Bad Creepy)

  1. The following sentence which I read in a news article: “Genetic modification of the smallpox virus would make any cases of the disease easier to detect, say some scientists.”
  2. The Zuni fetish doll from Trilogy of Terror.
  3. Centipedes.
  4. Fundamentalists.
  5. Snakes, newts, salamanders and toads.
  6. Rats. Particularly roof rats … which hang out above our heads!
  7. Corporate America. And, worse, Corporate Media.
  8. Zombies. When I drive late at night, I become seriously anxious if I see a human figure walking along a quiet road. If I stop will I be a good Samaritan or a zombie snack?
  9. The Dentist.
  10. Bogs & Swamps.
  11. Ball lightening. Though I’d love to see it before I die.
  12. Being burned alive.
  13. Feral Pigs.
  14. Cancer.
  15. Sideshow performers.
  16. The Jersey Devil / Mothman. I believe I saw something similar when I was a kid.
  17. Demons.
  18. The Bush Dynasty.
  19. AIDS.
  20. “Bad Seed” type children.
  21. The Nutcracker Suite.
  22. People who make their living by collecting delinquent accounts. I can’t imagine having to do that. No wonder they are so mean.
  23. Mediums & Spiritualists.
  24. Grays.
  25. A specific werewolf that used to come to me in my dreams.
  26. Exorcism.
  27. Serial killers.
  28. The psychological puzzle of the serial killer personality & profiling.
  29. Being buried alive.
  30. Implements of torture.
  31. The creepy girl from The Ring. That fast-advance-toward-the-camera trick gets me where I live.
  32. Martyrs.
  33. Historical Sadists.
  34. Realtors.
  35. Maggots. Stemming from a true childhood horror-house.
  36. Bats. A couple of childhood traumas are to blame. These days, I make an effort to attract them to my yard, but I bet I’d still scream like a little girl should one wander into the house.
  37. Pod People.
  38. War. Any war. And all war. Amen.
  39. Stranger abduction.
  40. Tornado warnings. ‘Don’t know if my heart beats fast out of fear or excitement.
  41. Bugs from “the south”. From fire ants to writing spiders — okay, insects and arachnids that live where it never freezes…they are too fierce and too big.
  42. Satanists.
  43. Will-o-wisps.
  44. Ouija boards. You couldn’t pay me to play with one of these…even though I read tarot cards. Go figure.
  45. Karen Black.
  46. Global Thermonuclear War. (As in Wargames.)
  47. Black Eyed Children
  48. Even thinking about the movie The Human Centipede.
  49. Roanoke.
  50. Witches.

21 Comments on “50 Fearsome Things”

  1. Caroline B says:

    Realtors. I love it. Grays. Amen.

  2. Denise Bryant says:

    I just found your blog and I’m dying to read more! I just moved to Anoka and always wondered about the mansion I drive by on 169. So tonight I started looking into it and many hours later here I am. I have some serious touring to do!

  3. theipc says:

    @”My character is cautious and rather calculating. I do not leap before I look. Ever. In fact, I rarely leap at all, even after careful consideration of all the potential variables inherent within a given situation.” – YES. I raise my cocktail and nod in agreement to you. Nice place you have here! I LIKE it!

  4. Robyn says:

    I am very afraid of snakes as well! No creature that doesn’t have legs, wins or fins is normal. They are far too scary!!

    • I used to have a (small) pet snake. It was fascinating. That said, I freak right the hell out if I come across one basking in the sunshine outside.

      Well, only for a second, while I figure out which way it’s going. If it’s not looking agressive (and none so far have) then I will happily watch it from a distance. I guess it’s really just the startle factor for me.

  5. Patrick says:

    Fellow recluse morbid nerd checking into the meeting. Love the list.. and the color coding. 🙂 Totally appreciated.

  6. scoobyclue says:

    When I was 6, Bozo read my joke on the air, so I won a board game. I waited weeks for it to show up, and when it did, with a note from Bozo, I ripped open the paper and there was a Ouja board. My great grandmother, who lived with us grabbed it from me, and threw it away immediately and then proceeded to scare the bejesus out of me about the bad mojo that accompanies it. Haven’t touched one since.

    • Oh, THIS is a fantastic story! When I shared it, my son (18) could not believe that a children’s clown would EVER think a Ouija board was an appropriate “board game”. I told him, “It was a simpler time.”

      It’s amazing any generation before this one survived childhood, isn’t it?

  7. bhavana says:

    Don’t worry about the Jersey Devil. I live in the Pine Barrens, have spent my life in these woods, he does not exist. Not to say there are not other creepy things in the Pinelands, but the Jersey Devil is 100% myth. (And I believe in the supernatural, so it’s not like I am a skeptic or anything)

  8. julial213 says:

    You could be writing about me here. It was scary. A lot of things I had forgot, especially not liking taking chances but yet I climbed trees and 8 foot fences. Julia

  9. JoHanna Massey says:

    Great post!

  10. Denise Wilson says:

    Earwigs! Bad creepy… There’s never been a horror movie about a giant earwig. Too creepy. No one would go see it.

    • Linda says:

      I live in the Northwest, and earwigs are ubiquitous. Nothing creeps me out like a squirming mass of earwigs coming out of a drain!!!! I think in part due to watching an old Outer Limits episode back in the 60s, that the smaller they are the more frightening. In that episode someone put an earwig in someone’s ear as vengeance and let it eat through his brain (I won’t give you the twist, as that should totally creep anyone out on earwigs)

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