Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 7: Nothing to fear but EVERYTHING

Today, I laughed at: Ordinary Batman Adventures. 
 A gif sent from the boyfriend when I told him I hadn't laughed yet today. 

Thanks, boyfriend.




Humor is, of course, the one thing that fear cannot abide: Laughter banishes anxiety, and can help replace fear. Laughter is a testament to courage, or at least a manifestation of the wish for it, and courage is stronger than fear. We need a strong and healthy dose of focused humor in our lives every day. — Psychology Today

With Halloween coming up, I realized maybe an ulterior motive for my 31 Days of Laughter Challenge was to keep the scariness away.

Benson and Stabler, I miss you.
Ever since pregnancy, whatever part of my brain that allowed me to watch scary movies or shows, like "Law & Order: SVU," has been turned off. I haven't seen a new episode of "SVU" since 2010, I think.

What happened?

I used to be the one people would bring to scary movies to make them laugh. I used to be the annoying middle schooler who talked back to characters on haunted hayrides.

Not anymore.

Last time I went to one of those haunted graveyard walks at an amusement park, I cried my way through it, held on to my now-ex husband, was targeted by characters who somehow signaled to one another that I was "the screamer of the group" (I've heard they do this, by the way).

I went for what I thought was an exit halfway through and a character jumped out at me and I ran screaming back to my group of friends, trying to complain to someone they shouldn't have signs that say "Exit" if they're not real. And, no matter what the signs say, warning patrons not to touch the characters, apparently they're allowed to touch the patrons as much as they want, brushing up against me in those narrow hallways they steer us through like cattle.

Ashamedly, I faked being prone to seizures so I could close my eyes and hold onto my then-husband's shoulders as he led me through a freaky series of rooms with strobe lights flashing.

Yeah, Lake Compounce, I'll call you out for
making a grown woman cry.
I must mention, this particular "attraction" (and I use the term lightly) lasts an hour. I was not aware of this when I stood in line for close to that just to get in.

Needless to say, I have not been near one since. I even knew friends who played characters in a haunted attraction and I wouldn't go see them.

I can only look to "The Exorcist" as the answer ...

The stairs from the movie, which I've
seen in Georgetown. I walked down
them, to the gas station at the bottom,
hoping to get rid of the fear.
No such luck.
(Thank you, Wikimedia Commons, for
having this as the only art when I
searched for "The Exorcist.")
Once upon a time, a naive high schooler was invited to see "The Exorcist" with her then-boyfriend and a few friends. Nothing scared her.

She had sat inches from the television as Jack Torrence axed his way through a door the first time she watched "The Shining." She won $10 from her dad when he bet her she couldn't sit through "IT" when she was 10 years old, despite her fear of clowns. She was the one who caught "Carrie" on TV late at night when she was 11, thinking it was going to be a normal teen movie, then watched until 1 a.m. without flinching. Then read the book a few years later.

OK, the book was actually much scarier than the movie and the girl may have, perhaps, slept with the lights on a few nights while reading it. But, regardless, scary movies did not affect her.

 As the lights dimmed and "Tubular Bells" began, she sat back and waiting for the perfect opportunity to make her friends laugh with her witty comments and comedic interpretations of the plot.

It was not funny. Even remembering the experience now makes this writer uncomfortable. The girl sat in horror, at one point, she even left the theater to go to the bathroom, just to be in bright lights, but she could still hear the possessed voice through the walls. And as she walked back through the theater, she felt the thumping of her heart could be heard during the silent scenes of the movie. You know, the ones they use before they scare the living crap out of you with some loud noise.

She silently cried and even tried watching the movie with her eyes closed. That made it worse.

After the movie, she wouldn't drive home by herself and stayed at her friend's house. A male friend's house. On a school night, I think. He slept on the floor.

His dad screamed at him the next day, "You had a girl in your bed!" He screamed back, "Did you happen to notice the fact I wasn't in there with her?!"

Can't even look at this
cover without being
creeped out.
(Steve Juhazs, wherever you are now, thanks.)

Not only did she sleep with the lights on for about THREE MONTHS afterward, she couldn't hear tubular bells, she hated the demonic voice if anyone impersonated it, and, while seeing "Scary Movie 2" in theaters, she cried when they impersonated the movie. She. Freakin'. Cried. At. Scary Movie 2.

That was the only indication she would grow up to be, you guessed it, the writer of this blog post. The one who is now afraid of pretty much anything remotely scary. The person who is not comfortable with anyone in masks or even with painted faces that make them unrecognizable.

One of her friends dressed as the Mad Hatter for ComicCon (the link will take you to the flickr page he was listed on). She's seen in person in the full outfit and makeup and couldn't look him in the face or even be near him for at least an hour.

"Get this girl some chocolate!"
So, why is she writing all this in a blog about laughter? Hmm. Good question. (I think she let this post get away from her a bit, especially considering she's still writing in the third person.)

Oh, right. Because fear is supposed to diminished by laughter. I assume it's the idea behind chocolate combatting the effects of Dementors from "Harry Potter," or maybe it has nothing to do with that, but chocolate does sound pretty good right about now.

I can't even describe it so I'll just link to some sources instead.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2535221/Horror-film-gene-that-makes-some-scream-while-others-laugh.html

http://winningwit.com/laughing-your-way-through-fear/

http://www.crystalinks.com/laughter.html