The Bogeyman

When I was little, we lived in a tiny, one-story rowhouse. The living and dining room was a long rectangle that ran the length of the house and my room was down by the dining area. We didn't get a TV until I was about seven - one of my earliest memories is watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon through a haze of static (my parents were in Spain and my grandmother, who was looking after me, had no idea how to adjust the antenna).

It must have been some time that year that I got the fright of my life. I'd been put to bed and my parents were watching Frankenstein at the far end of the living room (please keep in mind that 'far end' is a relative term. This was a very small house). I wanted desperately to see it, too, and stood by the crack at my door longing to join my parents, saying nothing, but undoubtedly communicating very loudly that that a) I was there and b) I wanted to see the movie. Eventually, they relented and allowed me to join them briefly. I remember the scene with the monster and the little girl, but that's about it. My hands were firmly planted over my eyes and I didn't really see anything else. I suspect I was put to bed soon after that, but even that brief exposure marked me.

My tiny, narrow room had a window and below that window were at the stairs to the basement. Which means that it was the perfect height for a tall-ish person of the monster persuasion to stand at the bottom up the stairs and be able to peek in my window. I was terrified. For years. I had had scary ideas before - I once had a dream about a very frightening man/otherworldly demon-type thing standing behind the kitchen door and afterwards, was always freaked out when I had to pass that area. For years, I also had a lion living under my bed and every night, we had to check whether it was there. I am fuzzy on the details – I can no longer remember whether the lion was a good thing or whether we were hoping it wasn't there.

Anyway! Frankenstein's monster beat everything else and haunted me for years, the perfect bogeyman, the pinnacle of unknowable horror. Although we moved into another house when I was 12, the monster moved, as well and stayed with me. Looking back, I wonder if it represented the monster in my immune system, the unknowable horror lurking around me, poised to pounce any minute, altering my body and my life.

I was about 16 or 17 when the movie Young Frankenstein [Blu-ray] came to Denmark. One day, when a couple of my friends were over, they talked about going to see the movie. My mother jumped at the chance - she'd have to drive us, but wanted to see the movie, too. Only because I couldn't bear being exposed as a wuss did I not stay home. The thought of going to this movie frightened me so much that it was almost worth it to admit to cowardice, if only it would save me from having to go. However, my pride seemed to have outweighed my fear (but only just) and I went.

And was cured. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe and after that day, the monster didn't haunt me anymore. 

However, although I since watched Young Frankenstein many, many times, I have never made it through the original in its entirety. I love old movies, especially the really, really old movies and I love the old horror movies, but to this day, I have only watched Frankenstein in bits. Not on purpose, it’s just sort of worked out that way. Amazing how the subconscious can rule your life.

Who is your bogeyman?