Last night, Dan took two of the guys in our youth group to see a movie.  As they were loading into the car, one of the guys said, "I want to see a scary movie." WHAT is the deal with that?

As many times as people have tried to explain it to me, I still don't get it.  They say:

"It's not scary, it's just suspenseful." Bull.

"It's so unrealistic, it's hilarious." You have the sickest sense of humor ever.

"It's an adrenaline rush!" Yeah, well, so is bungee jumping.  (Which I'm 200x more likely to participate in than voluntarily sitting through a scary movie.)

"I want to be scared." You know what that is?  Insanity, that's what.

To be fair, I have a very low tolerance for all things scary.

How low?

I still haven't forgiven my 8th grade Language Arts teacher for making me read The Hound of Baskervilles. For months I slept with my back pressed up against my bedroom wall and kept my eyes fixed on the door until I fell asleep.  I kept jerking awake in a cold sweat because I of nightmares involving an evil, glowing dog stalking around the corner and into my bedroom.  To add insult to injury she made us read another Sherlock Holmes story - the one about the poisonous snake coming through the air vent and killing people in their sleep.  I came home from school and promptly closed the vent in my bedroom, which was on the third floor of the house.  At the end of a long hallway.  On two exterior walls.  With 5 windows.  My room stayed at least 15 degrees hotter than the rest of the house, and I slept up there in the 87 degree heat and the covers pulled UP AROUND MY NECK because of the snake story.

I won't even mention the trauma of  Edgar Allen Poe.  Are you kidding me, Tell Tale Heart??  All the English teachers are a bunch of sickos.

But that was in middle school.  Surely I have some wits about me now, right?  Get this.  It is one of my favorite stories of my marriage.

One evening last winter, when we were living in a tiny house in Georgia, I took a relaxing shower and settled in to watch TV with Dan.  Dan doesn't do winter, so he was bundled up from head to toe in black sweats, with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled up over his head (coughcoughpansycoughcough).  We cuddled up and watched 2 episodes of Law & Order SVU before we called it a night.  (As I type this now I can't help but wonder why I thought this was a good idea.)

When it was over, I turned to Dan and said,

"I'm going to go blow dry my hair before bed."

It is important, here, that you know the layout of our very small house.  The TV was in the living room and a very narrow hallway led down to the bathroom, our room,etc.  The bathroom was tucked around a very sharp corner so that when you were standing inside you were completely blind to the hallway, unable to see anything in either direction until it was upon you, standing in the doorway.

(You see where this is going.)

So it's 11:00 at night, I've just watched a creepy SVU, and I'm standing in our little blind bathroom in front of the mirror drying my hair.  Because I am a freak, I'm totally aware of the following things:

1. 50% of all horror movies include a scene of a woman standing in front of a mirror, where she looks up and sees an attacker/ghost/psycho ex-lover/Satan himself behind her in the reflection.

2. The noise from the hairdryer makes it impossible for me to hear the creaks and groans of the house, which would alert me that an intruder has broken in and is creeping down the hallway.

As I stood there, my heart was racing.  I kept glancing up, over my shoulder to check the hallway,at least every 6 or 7 seconds.  Those 15 minutes seemed like an e t e r n i t y; everything in my chest was tightened.  I'm not even sure I was breathing.

Suddenly, I looked up, and THERE WAS A MAN!  IN THE DOORWAY!


There is no font to indicate the volume, the high-pitch, the terror of my scream.

I SWUNG the hairdryer around, clutching it with both hands, like a gun, pointing it directly at the face of the six-foot, hooded-rapist standing in my doorway.

At this point, the giant, hooded attacker fell to the ground,  curled up and holding his belly like he'd been shot, laughing hysterically.

Dan.  In his sweatshirt.  Coming to bed.

(Update: This was years before Treyvon. I do not fear hoodies. I fear 6-foot men sneaking up on me after I watch suspenseful television late at night. Carry on.)

"Did you honestly just try to shoot me with your hairdryer?"

Dan managed, through tears and fits of giggles.

"SHUT UP!"  I snapped, still shaking.

That is the last time I watched a Law & Order for 6 months.

When I married into the Conner family, I learned that they have a term for people like me.  They say we have "the scary gene."  And apparently there are quite a few Conners who've inherited it.  I sincerely hope Madeline didn't get it from the Conner side, because, as a scary gene carrier myself, that means she would have it doubly, and I cannot imagine the constant state of panic in which she would live.

Think you might have the scary gene?  I've compiled a little checklist for you:


1. When you are home alone, you talk to your imaginary "husband" or "father" or "body guard" very loudly, so that if anyone is outside listening, they think that there is a large man in the house with you.

2. You turn the lights/television on and off to simulate lots of activity in the home (Like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone).

3. You sleep with your back against the wall, facing the door. (This is how Dan and I determine who gets which side of the bed.)

4. When you find yourself in a scary situation, you survey the room for escape routes.  Also objects within arms reach that you could use to inflict blunt force trauma, or gouge out eyes.

5. You can't look down long hallways in schools or other large public buildings, for fear of seeing people hanging from the beams (ever since The Sixth Sense).

6. You turn out the light and take a flying leap into your bed, so your feet don't come within a grab-able distance of whoever is hiding under there (Also thanks to The Sixth Sense).

7. You breeze past windows and mirrors at night, because you can't bring yourself to look into them for fear of seeing a face.

8. You have to change the channel when a PREVIEW for a scary movie comes on.

Do any of these apply to you?  All of them?  Me too.  I don't know where people like us rank on the neurotic scale, and frankly, I don't care.

Needless to say, I DID NOT accompany the guys to the movie last night.  Why people do that to themselves is completely beyond my realm of understanding.

And if any of you get the wise idea to use this information to prank me, I swear: I will attack you with my hairdryer.