Remember some of the things that were going to eventually kill all of us?
West Nile Virus? Bird Flu? SARS? Nicolas Cage movies? Remember?
What ever became of those dangers?
One minute everyone was worried about Mad Cow Disease, but then suddenly, somebody finally turned off the television and nobody cared anymore.
I sure don’t worry about these things today.
Do you know what else I don’t worry about anymore? Most of the things that scared me growing up. Remember what used to scare many of us twenty-five years ago?
Here are the top five things that scared me as a kid, in no particular order.
1. Nuclear war:
Good Lord I was afraid of those Soviets blowing me off the face of the planet! Decades after McCarthyism petered out, the threat of nuclear war and Ivan Drago’s brutal assault of Apollo Creed caused many young Americans to loathe an entire country of funny, furry hat wearing communists that 97% of us couldn’t even locate on a globe. Thankfully, Ronald Reagan and Rocky Balboa were there to keep us safe.
Remember the AIDS?
If I’m recalling it correctly, a monkey from Haiti came to the United States and had unprotected sex with a Republican senator from Tennessee, who shook hands with a young Bill Clinton, who then spread it to 40% of the population west of the Mississippi. Is that correct? No matter the source, it was a scary disease.
Could you get it from breathing it in or by touching hands with an infected person? Nobody was sure, so eventually, we all just decided that only gays and drug users could die from it, and that helped ease our minds. Magic Johnson tried to get it by contracting HIV, but he’s not gay or an intravenous drug user, so he’s been fine for 20 years now.
I know, right?
I blame the Sunday morning Tarzan show for this one. People and animals were always falling into quicksand and there was no way out unless Tarzan was around to save you. There are no Tarzans or nearby swinging vines in the Midwest, so who the hell would have saved me?
“Oh there’s no quicksand in the United States, Don!”
BULLSHIT! You’re wrong, my friend. Long before Tarzan renewed my fear of quicksand, Cleavon Little and Mr. Taggart’s nearly lost $400 push-cart in Blazing Saddles had already gotten me thinking.
Thanks to JAWS, I managed to reside in the Midwest, 900 plus miles from the nearest ocean, and live in fear of giant sharks.
Asinine, right? Well, we always vacationed in Florida, and it only takes one dip in the ocean to become a victim. The risk always kept me in water no deeper than my knees and always swimming in pairs with a little brother. When you swim with a little brother, you needn’t be able to outswim a shark, just be able to outswim that brother.
I’m also going to include piranhas on this list, and again thank a movie for that unreasonable childhood fear.
5. Spectral child murderers:
I’m sorry, but Freddy Krueger and his night time shenanigans freaked me the fuck out!
Horror movies were very popular when I was a kid. Friday the 13th, Halloween, Faces of Death, there were so many, but none of the killers was creepier to me than Fred. A person could feasibly outrun Jason or not have sex in the creepy cabin or walk outside in your underpants to avoid being killed by most of the serial killers, but Freddy got you when you fell asleep! How do you avoid that??
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of my childhood fears. Being killed by a rabid St. Bernad dog, struck by lightning or killed by a tornado or choking were just a few more of the perfectly reasonable threats to my life back in the day.
Of course today, I realize that many of those fears were irrational and silly.
Apparently, I should have been more worried about sleeping on my stomach as a baby, the lead paint on our walls or the fact that not drinking while driving and seatbelts were for pansies back in the late 70’s.
Now that I’m an adult, I see that I’m more likely to die of a fractured neck upon tripping over a Lego or Matchbox car, or via my heart exploding from eating too much bacon.
What were your irrational child fears? Were they irrational at all? Do you still fear them?