Friday, February 7, 2014

Crows & Clowns

(Here's an old column because I'm lazy.)

In the spirit of the Halloween season, I would like to present to you a column so filled with terror and fright that there could possibly be a loss of bladder control. Hopefully, you'll be scared also.

To get into the proper frame of mind, I decided that maybe I should immerse myself in the writings of one of the true masters of mystery and the macabre. However, since I've never been a big reader of scary stuff, I wasn't sure which way to turn. I've never been a big reader of anything except for a youthful fascination for the shenanigans of Archie and Jughead. Poor Mr. Weatherbee.

I did remember hearing back in high school that Edgar Allan Poe wrote some pretty dark stuff. So it was with this in mind I searched out "The Raven," which was first published in 1845 according to my good friends at Wikipedia. I was prepared to be frightened out of my socks.

To tell you the truth, I was not scared. I was not petrified. Let me tell you why. There were no chainsaws. There were no guys in hockey masks. And there were no guys in striped sweaters with metal, knify fingers living on Elm Street. (According to spellcheck, I just invented the word knify.)

There was none of this. Do you know what there was? There were a bunch of hard words. Really hard words, the likes of which Jughead never uttered. Let me give you my synopsis.

There's a sleepy guy sitting in a room reading. (I guess that I can identify with that.) He's got a thing for this chick named Lenore. There's some mumbo jumbo about tapping. He opens a window and a crow flies in (possibly Heckle and/or Jeckle) and sits on a statue of this guy named Pallas. There's a bunch more hard words, and the stupid bird says "nevermore" a bunch of times. A few more hard words (one was "bosom" to which I giggled "Tee-hee-hee, tee-hee-hee"). The sleepy guy tries to unsuccessfully shoo the bird away, gets a little weird and says a few more hard words and – the end. I might have glanced over a few details, but I think you should get the gist of the story. (I'd also like to point out that all of this could have been averted with the use of a proper window screen.)

As you can tell, I was not frightened. I think that I was spending too much time figuring out the meaning of the words to be truly scared. Sometimes it's good to have a limited vocabulary. But this was not putting me in a Halloweeny mood. (Halloweeny. Tee-hee-hee, tee-hee-hee.)

I started thinking about the things that frighten me. There's not enough column inches in this entire newspaper to list all of my phobias, so I challenged myself to limit my list to first three things I could think of. So here they are – dentist drills, clowns and that talking chihuahua from the Taco Bell commercials. These are the three things that old Ed Poe should have put in his little story to ratchet up the terror level.

Can you imagine if the scene had been set in a dentist's chair instead of the guy napping in his chamber. Instead of a light "tapping," you hear that high-pitched whine of the drill and the sound of that spit-sucker machine as it gets stuck to the inside of your cheek. The hair is literally standing up on the back of arms as I think about it.

And instead of a bust of Pallas above the chamber door, there's an orange-haired clown sitting on a little tricycle in a darkened corner. He just stares at you from behind that bulbous red nose and spinning bow tie. Okay, now the hair on the front of my arms is standing up. I might need to invest in a bottle of Nair.

These two changes, in and of themselves, could make this poem ten times scarier, but to really put it over the top, imagine that instead of a stupid talking crow coming through the window, that little chihuahua, with those big old chihuahua eyes, comes strutting in — talking about his undying love for chimichangas – in Spanish. The very thought of it just freaks me out.

So it's in this spirit, I wish everyone a happy Halloween. Go carve a pumpkin, or visit a haunted house or if nothing else, read the "The Raven" to your kids. Just keep a dictionary handy.

Oh yeah, I about forgot  – bosom. Tee-hee-hee, tee-hee-hee.

Published Saturday, October 29, 2011, Bureau County Republican.


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