From my childhood comes a fear so concrete, so engrained in my being that even as an adult in a well lit room I would be confronted by this fear and turn into the 6 year old I was when I first experienced it.
Goosebumps, anxiety, a desire to run…fast. Fear is a powerful thing and overcoming it isn’t easy.
Those of you who attended the EMS World Expo HollyWood Nights party recently know exactly what, and who, I’m referring to.
I have a friend who is deathly afraid of clowns. Any kind of clown, from cute to scary and he tries to punch his way out. One year we thought we’d interrupt a Halloween party by having a clown ride through the party on a little clown bike. That didn’t go so well. He didn’t confront his fear and the clown recovered after a few days.
I don’t mind clowns in general, just the one.
The clown from Poltergeist. In the film a clown doll comes to life trying to kill a little boy who was my age at the time. It laughed, it hid under the bed, it’s arms grew, all the things clowns don’t usually do. That scene, which we all know I saw too young, burned itself into every synapse in my brain and every time that movie would come on I’d be fine until the clown scene. Even a few weeks ago I tried to watch it on a warm sunny afternoon.
Nope, the fear was too intense. I had to turn off the TV and go outside. Like I said before, fear is a powerful thing.
At the party this last week there was a variety of movie memorabilia, props and the like from a number of films scattered about the restaurant. Over in one corner was the gun prop from Escape from New York, over there a bit from here and over here a bit from there, you get the idea. At the bar enjoying a drink I mentioned all the neat memorabilia around us when someone pointed out the prop not 3 feet from me the entire time.
My fear response was intense, I’m told there is video, and I’m immediately trying to get to the door. That clown will start laughing, break out of the glass he’s in and try to kill me, that’s what he’s done all my life. My friends built a wall and pushed me forward telling me I had to face me fear.
Reluctant is a word you could use. Still squirming to get out of this confrontation my mind is telling me it is only wood and fabric, created by a prop guy. The 6 year old in me is peeing his pants. The fear was so intense I can barely describe it and before this encounter would never have been able to even write this much on the subject, let alone think it.
But this is where I tried to step up tall and face the clown who so permeated my fears.
I heard someone nearby say, “Look! He’s not even wearing a kilt!” I was, as many others were, and suddenly I was able to catch a breath, a half a breath at least and took that sliver of a window of opportunity and reluctantly reached out and touched the glass. It suddenly, without explanation, looked different. It was a neat looking clown toy, with little white bloomers and a clearly well carved wooden face in a classic clown design. I appreciated the workmanship of the prop master and how the magic of the movies made him come to life.
And just like that, my fear was gone. The rest of the evening I kept looking over at the clown in the glass and wondering if the 6 year old inside would think this had all been a dream and suddenly awake to see the clown at the foot of his bed. But when I listened I heard him laughing at the clown. “You’re wearing bloomers, you’re wearing bloomers.”