Let’s start out things nice and creepy with a discussion on strange fears from childhood. When I was a little girl, I was terrified of many things that children are terrified of, especially the supernatural—ghosts, aliens, that sort of thing. While the intensity of these fears was very real, I’m not sure if they are necessarily that unique (Although I must ask, how many of YOU woke up in terror because you thought the lights from a police car that had stopped a drunk driver were actually lights from a UFO? I was seventeen. Just kidding. I was eight. Or was I?) Anyway, I could go into all of that, but other fears are stranger, and therefore, much more special.
One of my strangest childhood fears came after I watched the movie Big staring Tom Hanks. The scene where he wakes up and his mother doesn’t recognize him horrified me. The fear in the mother’s voice! The fear in little big Tom Hank’s voice! And then she kicked him out! They were both just so confused! (I would add a link to this scene from YouTube, but I don’t even want to do that because it still makes me too anxious.) Young Brigette saw this and thought, “What if I woke up and my mom didn’t know who I was but I was RIGHT THERE and she didn’t believe me?!”
For some reason after that, my imagination frequently played out a scenario in which I woke up a different race, and therefore, clearly unrecognizable. Why not wake up a grown woman, or even a grown man? I don’t know. I chose race. I’ve shared this with friends in the past, and they call me a racist. I was not a racist child, although I’m sure many intellectuals would have a field day with what this fear “really” meant. In any event, I was always relieved to wake up looking like myself.
Another strange fear that stands out came before I saw Big. This was birthed at my grandpa LeValley’s house while I was watching MTV with my mom (I used to insist that we play the channel while I “dance,” which was really just me holding onto her arms while I shook my head back and forth). On came the song “Dancin’ Machine,” complete with a moment where Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 do the robot. This I WILL leave a YouTube link to because you have to understand.
Their movements are so UNNATURAL! They’re so SKINNY! Their hair is so BIG! I stopped “dancing” (shaking my head around) and became frozen in fear.
This one is even more terrifying, because 1970’s Cher joins in the fun. Scroll to the 4:34 mark to see the moment. She is even skinner and her hair is even bigger. She doesn’t look REAL. She looks like a DOLL.
Since then, people moving unnaturally has scared me. But is this really so unique? (Isn’t the scariest part in The Ring when Samara comes out of the well and is sort of hobbling toward the TV screen?) It is odd though that these dancin’ machines, which were supposed to bring entertainment and joy, terrified me. They still terrify me, and yet I cannot and do not want to look away. It’s like watching a scary movie that thrills you as it scares you. Usually, these types of thrills don’t thrill me, as I don’t like to be thrilled. You know that feeling you get when you go down a roller coaster? I hate it. And yet, this thrills me. And I like it. But I also can’t stand it.
Now it’s your turn. What were some of your strangest childhood fears? Or are your fears stranger now that you are older? Does Cher actually transform into a dancin’ MACHINE in that last clip? Let me know in the comments below.