I saw a sign in a store once. Not a sign, really, but rather a little slip of paper taped to the side of the cash register. I was buying some gum.
“Fear of monsters attracts monsters” it read. The paper was wrinkled, and it looked like it had seen better days. But it obviously meant enough to someone to take the time and tape it to the cash register. The tape was yellowed, so it’d been there a good while, I guessed.
What exactly does that mean, I wondered to myself as I stood there waiting to pay for my gum. “Fear of monsters attracts monsters,” I read again. I don’t particularly care for monsters. Not to mention the mutant wharf rats, zombies and aliens posing as farm animals that live everywhere in south Georgia. Haven’t you ever heard of those? Growing up, my older brother used to tell me stories about them. I still haven’t caught up on the sleep I lost as a child over such tales.
And don’t even get me started on the times they sat on my head, forced me to smell their feet and chased me around the house threatening to wipe boogery things on me. And there I was, their sweet, adorable little sister who loved nothing more than to sit and drink Tang and watch Captain Kangaroo and play with her baby doll. Until ...
“You know, that doll comes alive at night when you’re asleep,” my brother told me.
That’s all it took. I buried her in the bottom of my closet and laid awake all night thinking I heard her trying to get out. I’d forgotten all that until I found her in a box of my old things a few years ago.
“Oh, she’s scary,” my daughter said when she saw her. It didn’t help that the doll’s hair had faded to an orange, dry, brittle mess that stuck up all over her head like Don King’s. She still had flakes of dried food stuck in her mouth where I’m sure I had tried to feed her bananas before my brother convinced me she was the devil.
And then there were the cows.
“You know those aren’t real cows,” he once told me as we passed by Mr. Unger’s Dairy Farm outside of town one day. “They’re really aliens in cow suits and at night they come up to the house and look in the window trying to pick out who they’re going to take back with them.”
As if I wasn’t already scared enough of cows, the way they lick your head and all. You know, cow licks?
I have a teeny tiny one on the left side of my head and it was my own father, actually, who told me as a child that I had it because when I was a baby a cow came up and licked my head.
Oh, the torture I endured as a child. I didn’t think to ask where my loving parents were when said cow supposedly licked their infant daughter’s head. Weren’t they around to protect me?
The story of alien cows was new to me, though, and I remember lying in my bed that very night underneath my Holly Hobby bedspread praying that (a) my baby doll didn’t find her way out of the closet and kill me and (b) the cow-aliens didn’t show up, lick my head and take me off somewhere.
If only I’d known then that it’s the fear of monsters that attracts monsters, like the sign said. Don’t be afraid of them and they won’t bother you. Makes sense.
Still, I don’t think I’ll ever particularly care for cows.
It’s that whole licking thing.
Now that’s scary.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.