When I was 5 I was afraid to go into the bathroom if the shower curtain was closed because I was pretty sure that the poisonous plant from Jumanji was in there waiting to kill me. Which just proves that I’m afraid of absolutely everything, because that plant isn’t even in the top 3 scariest fictional plants. (Which, thanks for asking, consists of triffids, Audrey II, and bellsprout. And don’t challenge me on bellsprout being creepy. Tell me that thing doesn’t look like the character from Plants Vs Zombies meets Jeff the Killer.) I also had to check behind my toilet every time I went to the bathroom to make sure that there were no giant Jumanji spiders hiding behind there. Apparently that movie did a number on me. So did the movie Beetlejuice, but not even because of the sandworms, mostly just because of that opening scene when Alec Baldwin picks up the giant spider and releases it into the wild as if it wasn’t plotting his death. That spider was the real villain of the movie and I don’t care what anyone says.
When I was 7 my parents let me and my brother play Resident Evil, which we thought was super cool of them and not at all negligent like everyone since then has implied. It was a great time, right up until that terrifying scene when the zombie turns around and looks right into the camera like Nosferatu if he were on The Office. Though, now that I think about it that look the zombie had was a lot like the look I give people in cars when they honk at me while I’m crossing the street with the right of way. That slow turn and dead look in my eye that says, “Honk at me again and I will stand in front of your car until you’re forced to swerve past me and drive into a Payless. And then I’m gonna tell everyone that I saw you in a Payless. And then I’m gonna tell Payless that you drove into a Payless and they’re gonna make you pay… more.”
When I was 13 I still had not learned my goddamn lesson, apparently, and started watching horror movies religiously. And each and every one of them left me with the same petrified, pee in the pants, jaw hitting the floor reaction. Scream? I was petrified. Hostel? I peed my pants. The Grudge? My jaw hit the-... Never mind, that’s insensitive. I finally broke out of that scaring-myself-with-horror-movies stage of my life when I got older and moved out. Which is ironic, because you’d think living on my own would give me more freedom to needlessly traumatize myself. But when you get older you just have different kinds of fears. Like global warming, and nuclear war, and putting off doing your laundry until the last minute and then not knowing if your clothes are gonna get locked in the laundromat if they end up closing before your cycle is done. You know, genuinely scary stuff.
Also now that I thought about it more, the actual scariest part about Beetlejuice wasn’t even the spider scene, it was that the ghosts couldn’t leave their home. If I did happen to die via bathroom-Jumanji-plant and had to stay in my childhood house for the rest of my afterlife with my mom singing “Lips Of An Angel” in the other room because she thinks nobody can hear her, I might honestly just walk outside and let a giant sandworm eat me.
Ryan C. Robert is the writer of multiple comedy blogs, most of which are satirical and self-deprecating. He writes about his life in his personal essay series "Before Color," parodies cooking blogs in "Trish's Dishes" and posts writing prompts every single day.