The other night the kids and I got home late after a lovely dinner at Mimi's. I had forgotten to put the outside lights on so it was dark...no street lights, house in the woods kind of dark. I opened the van and unbuckled the kids and then started hefting the diaper bag, present from my mom, box of scrapping stuff from my sister, backpack and pocketbook onto my shoulders and in my arms when Cosmo hopped out and tore into the woods. Immediately I heard a crashing and snapping of branches and I completely lost it. I screamed at the kids to "run, run, run to the house!!! go! go! GOOOOOOO!!!" The kids had already started up to the house but were taking their time and looking at the stars, until my screams caused them to freeze. I started to run but my bags, packages and bundles were not making it very easy. I had no idea what was hiding in the woods but I wasn't planning on waiting around to find out. I made it to the house in record time given my burdens and the fact that I was herding all three kids who didn't know whether I was playing a game or if they should be scared themselves. We fell into the house and I turned and locked the door, phew...safe. Now let me be quite honest with you...I was scared. The adrenaline was pumping and my heart was racing and I was sure I something, someone, was only footsteps behind me. But once inside, with the door securely locked I realized how ridiculous I behaved. Now...some friends of mine have been ribbing me about this little incident. But they don't know the half of it. This is not the first and it will not be the last time I had the bejesus scared out of me. Let me reminise...
I remember when I was probably about four, my parents and my older brothers and sisters went out, I think to church. My brother and I were home alone (I know...my parents were irresponsible nuts for leaving a 4 and 3 year olds home alone but that's beside the point). My parents house is like the size of a small hotel so we didn't even know they had left and when our cartoon was over we wandered downstairs. We went from room to room looking for Mummy and finally wound up in the kitchen. At this point we realized our Mummy was not at home and that mind numbing paralyzing all consuming fear washed over me. I remember just standing in the middle of my kitchen panic striken because I was sure the boogie man would find us and get us. So I did what any 4 year old would do. I climbed up onto the counter, grabbed the biggest knife I could find and dragged my brother upstairs to Mummy's room. We hunkered down under the covers with the knife within arms reach should the boogie man make an appearence.
And then there was the time I was babysitting for a family overnight. I had put the kids to bed upstairs and then went down to the basement family room to watch a movie...a typical teen fright flick...why, why why!!!! So after a while I paused the VCR and went upstairs to check on the kids and get some snacks. I also locked all the doors as I went through the house. When I came back down to the basement the movie was no longer paused but shut off. I walked over to the basement door that leads outside, the one I had locked on my way up to check on the kids and the knob turned easily in my hands...it was now unlocked. My heart froze in my chest and I bolted upstairs, grabbed a cordless phone and into the kids bedroom to call my Mom (yeah, the lady that left me to die at the hands of the boogie man but I'd forgiven her). She stayed on the phone with me and my older sister drove over. The two of us went through the house just like those idiots in the horror flicks. We looked in every closet, bathtub and crawlspace. Nothing...no one. I begged my sister to stay over anyways, she agreed and we both went to sleep. In the morning the kids asked why she was there so I told them what happened. They laughed themselves silly and then informed me that the VCR turns itself off when paused after a certain time span. And that the basement door doesn't lock...even if you turn the lock it still remains unlocked. I vowed not to watch another fright flick ever ever again.
Now lets fast forward to that night when I was taking a quilting class. Joe worked nights and we had just moved to our very rural little town. I hated being stuck in the house alone every night so I signed up for a quilting class that met one night a week at the high school. I loved my quilting class but the only drawback was going home. I got home after nine to an empty house and I had to go into the dark backyard to enter the house through our unlocked basement. I had to do this rather than just enter the front door because our front door was duct taped shut. (a story for another time) So this particular evening all us quilting ladies were gossiping and sewing when one woman piped up with the information that a member of a prison work crew working in the town center had escaped that afternoon and was still at large. I tried to ignore it. I tried to pretend I wasn't getting a wee bit worked up but by the time I pulled into my driveway I was convinced that the escaped convict had most certainly cut through the woods, waded through a swamp and swum across the pond to take refuge in my home. I plucked up enough courage to get myself into basement and started up the stairs into the house. And that's when I smelled a foul odor. It hit me as I came to the top of the basement stairs and I ran headlong into a wall of panic. I immediately realized not only had the convict invaded my home but he was hiding in my coat closet since that's where the maloderous smell seemed to be strongest. I slammed the door to the closet shut, pushed a bookcase in front of it and then a small rocking chair for good measure. Then I called Joe to tell him the bad news. Unfortunately he has received numerous calls from me over the years where I was sure we were being robbed by burglers who also stopped to rifle through the dish strainer because "I heard the dishes moving! I did!!!!" He was gallant enough not to laugh and hurried home as soon as he could. When he came home he also, at my insistence, moved aside the blockade in front of the closet and without a hint of humor told my convict to get out and go back to jail. No one came out, except the dog, who slunk out of the closet reeking of whatever nastiness he had rolled in that day.
So, you see, this overactive fright reaction is part of who I am. I am one of those people who screams when I'm startled and actually spends time rehearsing escape plans in my mind in case of who knows what. Many people would call me a coward but I have to disagree. I may be scared beyond reason but I always act. I never stand in one place and let the boogieman come get me. I run, I take up arms, I call in reinforcements and I take charge. Not too shabby for a big ole fraidy cat.