Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It turns out that I made a difference in the life of a child.

Last Sunday while I was waiting to rehearse before the service, a woman came in with her three year old daughter. They approached me, and the woman said that my peformance in a church event some weeks ago when I had dressed in drag and worn a purple wig had traumatized her daughter. The child had been having nightmares, and the mother wanted the child to see me as an ordinary man in the hope that this would console her. The girl could hardly look at me, so I don't know if my ordinary appearance was any consolation to her.

It was not my intent to frighten children. My get up was supposed to be comical, and it seemed so to the vast majority of the audience. Scaring a kid was a bonus.

You never know what will freak out a kid. My little sister feared an animatronic clown at Euclid Beach amusement park. Other clowns have always been OK. Daddy long leg spiders also scared the hell out of her. This fear persisted until her teens as frequent experiments I performed over the years proved. She never seemed to become desensitized no matter how many of the spiders I exposed her to. I tried to help, but she is an ingrate.

Daddy long legs do not scare me, but every other spider does. Not just the deadly ones. All of them. I also maintain the superstition that it is bad luck to kill a spider, so I'm in a fix. I don't know how I acquired arachnophobia, because it's been with me as long as I can remember. It's not so bad that I can't go outside and garden or anything. I just go into spasms if I get a spider on me. I wear gloves when I dig so the eight legged bastards can't bite me. I will never go to Australia, though, because of the deadly spiders. That and the eternal plane ride.

I confess that it is sometimes fun to scare kids. But I reckon it's good for them to be desensitized to various frightening circumstances, and I take pleasure in helping others. My nephews will one day thank me for desensitizing them to the fear of monsters in closets and under beds. It's not a monster; it's your uncle! Fear becomes hilarity. That's how I saw it anyway. I don't care what their therapist says. She wasn't there.

I took Mrs Vache Folle's two younger nephews on the haunted house ride at Rye Playland when they were way too young for it to be appropriate. I made up for this by pretending to be terrified myself and expressing the anxiety that we were to be killed and eaten at any moment. I reckoned my own apparent fear would distract the boys, but it seemed to heighten the scariness of the ride for them. They can thank me for teaching them that rides like that can't really hurt you, but they haven't yet. Again, I am stricken with the ingratitude of some people.

No comments: