Friday Night Think Tank: Memorial Day Edition

Doc BrownIt’s Friday night, Modern Philosophers, and the long weekend awaits.  Before we head off to enjoy our holiday weekend, however, we need to convene for our weekly Think Tank meeting.

For those new to the blog, The Think Tank is a weekly feature that allows us to gather as a group and really get the Deep Thoughts working.  After a week of silliness, this is the time that we put on our Deep Thinking Togas and really earn our Philosophy degrees.

I don’t know how the weather has been where you are, but Maine has been under attack from the rain gods all week.  Governor LePage has ordered that all residents wear a life jacket when they leave the house, and lifeguards are on duty at most major intersections.

It has been a dark and stormy week, with thunderstorms expected this evening.  The night has a very creepy, dank feel to it, so I thought I’d build a campfire for us to gather around for our meeting.

Since this is Memorial Day Weekend, this week’s topic should focus on memories.  As long as it’s dark and stormy and we’ve got the campfire going, I thought we’d put a Modern Philosopher’s spin on it and talk about frightening memories.

This week’s topic:  What scary childhood memory still haunts you and makes you lose sleep at night?

CampfireI could probably write a movie about this one…oh wait, I’m sure I already have.  As horrible as my childhood was, it’s provided wonderful material for my screenplays.

The wet weather has reminded me that I’m still not a very good swimmer, and that my fear of water is one of my strongest phobias.  I’m pretty sure it has something to do with that time I almost drowned as a child…

I was probably about eight.  It was Summer, and we’d gone camping up in Lake George, which was in upstate New York.  It was a very hot day, and it was decided that a great way too cool off would be to go into town and spend the day at the water slide.

I mustn’t have been very scared of water at that point because I remember being very gung ho about going down the slide and being able to do it by myself.  As I climbed the stairs to the top, I watched the other patrons slipping and sliding their way down.  Everyone was having fun and it all looked perfectly safe.  I couldn’t wait to take my turn.

When I got to the top, I noticed that the kids ahead of me went down the slide headfirst.  Silly me figured I could do that, too.  So, I threw down my mat, dove onto it headfirst, and down the slide I went.

There were no radar readings along the way, but I’m sure I was going upwards of 100mph (remember, I was 8 and already had a wild imagination).  Since I can barely swim now, I’m certain my swimming skills were much worse at that young age.  What was I thinking going down headfirst?  Where was my adult supervision?  What plan did I have for when I reached the pool at the bottom of the slide?

I hit the pool, immediately lost the grip on my mat, and went under water.  There were so many kids standing around in the pool, and they all seemed to be right around me, impeding my path to the surface.  I can still remember clawing for my mat, but not being able to find it.  Bodies bumped against me and the force sent me back towards the bottom of the pool.  I hadn’t thought to take a deep breath when I hit the water, and now my lungs were burning and in need of oxygen.  I reached again and again for a mat that wasn’t there.

I’d never been so terrified in my young life.  Legs bumped against me.  I tried to scream, but no one could hear my pleads for help from the depths.

Somehow, I exploded to the surface.  I ran the hell out of the pool and over to the lockers where we’d left our towels and clothes.  I didn’t go near the slide, or even look over in its direction the rest of the time I was there.

All I kept thinking about was being underwater, with no clear path to the surface, and thinking I was never going to take another breath.

That was the end of water slides for me and the beginning of my paralyzing fear of water.  I still won’t go into a pool that’s deeper than I am tall.  I’ll never go near a diving board, and it’s really got to be a special occasion to get me to go out in a boat.

What about you, Modern Philosophers?  What scary childhood memory do you want to share?  Remember, there are no wrong answers.

I look forward to reading all your comments.  I might just have to wait until morning so that the nightmares don’t keep me up all night…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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49 Responses to Friday Night Think Tank: Memorial Day Edition

  1. What if your whole childhood was a nightmare? I’m not saying mine was… I’m just asking.

  2. My mothers home-made remedies for illness! They consisted of a lotion, chemically manufactured, combined with molasses and a small piece of our hair she cut off to mix in. It was supposed to help us – not be cranky. I think it worked only because we were terrified she’d serve that – medicine – again! (smiles). True story! It’s no wonder I can’t sleep at night!

  3. For me it was looking out my window at night. It overlooked the school grounds, with one side being on the edge of a forest. I used to see and watch shadows dancing among the trees in the moonlight. That wasn’t what scare me though. The scary part will remain a secret. I still wonder about the shadows, and can still kind of see them as I’m typing…and no, there were no clouds in the sky, so that had nothing to do with it. Sleep well.

  4. dhonour says:

    A very creepy portrait of a girl and a horse that hung in my room (you know those 70s style pictures with children with huge, over-sized eyes? One of those) that I used to ‘see’ things in when the lights went out. That and the night terrors I suffered from–bugs and snakes mostly–I would hallucinate them on my pillow and well…you can imagine what it is like to think you are awake and see snakes on your pillow. Shudder.

    • Austin says:

      Yikes! That is creepy. I hope you destroyed that portrait at some point. If not, it will turn up at some point in your life and haunt you again!!!

  5. floridaborne says:

    I used to love the water and was a good swimmer at a young age, however, being in the middle of the ocean on a sailboat with no land around was another story entirely. I still love to stand on the beach and hear the waves roll in, but sailing was the end of my love affair with the ocean. Then there was the monster slide at a water park I went to with my much younger ex husband 20 years ago. It was a dizzying plunge followed by a feeling I’d just hit concrete at the end. Stunned, I stood up to find some guy staring at me. Thankfully, I was wearing a 1-piece suit. However, the string in back had untied during the ride and there I stood with the top of my suit hanging at my waist. The creepy part was being followed all over the park by that guy, chased off only by my ex once the stalking was too obvious to ignore..

    As far as childhood nightmares go, my scariest memory is waking up to find a dinosaur (like a tyrannosaurus) staring down at me, his eyes intent on his next meal. I could feel the hot saliva dripping on me, see the yellowed teeth, watch as the mouth open wider and wider. I was about 4 at the time. We didn’t have a television set, nor had I seen a picture of a dinosaur. All I remembered was screaming…nothing after that. Later in life my mother said I would scream in my room when I was an infant and was terrified of being alone. It helped when she moved me into my sister’s room, as long as my sister was in the room with me, but my fear of being alone stayed with me in adulthood.

    • Austin says:

      Another person with horrible water slide memories! That dinosaur dream sounds super creepy. I often wake up from nightmares in which I swear a stranger is standing in my room watching me sleep. Yikes!

      • floridaborne says:

        The worst part of the water slide episode wasn’t going down it (although it was called the “tornado” for a reason), it was the creepy guy.

        The “stranger in the room” dream is just those pesky aliens stopping in to check on your implant. 🙂

        You stirred such a strong childhood memory I’m going to write about it for my next blog. I’d say thanks, but there are some things in life better off remaining at rest in a subconscious cemetery.

      • Austin says:

        I’m sorry if The Think Tank forced you to face your childhood fears…

  6. I can almost feel your panic–I cannot swim either so have a healthy fear of the water

  7. I remember being a little girl trying to make my mother believe me when I told her about our babysitter mistreating my brother and I. She was a beautiful, young, divorced mother trying to work to support us… she didn’t hear me… so, I thought.

    The babysitting was a huge, black lady that we really loved… at first. She began bringing a bottle with her to our apartment (in this grand, huge home… beautiful…. but, more scary things happened there!). Then… her boyfriend would drive up when my mother left… the babysitter locked us outside for hours it seemed.

    She would threaten us… well, something scary happened outside. There was this dark opening around the side of that huge, old house… the woman who owned it, had a giant son who was scary (as I got older…. I realized he ‘wasn’t right’)… he’d go into that darkness, disappear. Children see, know everything about ‘grown-ups’.

    I was near it… he was wanting me to come in… I couldn’t see him. I was so afraid… I would freeze in one place, couldn’t move. One day something happen… I can’t remember now, ‘what’…. I’ve had nightmares since all these years… I can hear his sounds in my dreams… I wake up in terror every time… I just can’t remember what happened.

    Whatever ‘it was’… it terrified me enough to make me brave the babysitter’s anger. The next time she tried to lock us outside after my mother left for work… I grabbed my little brother’s hand…. led us quickly into our bathroom, locked the door.

    That babysitter screamed at us… threatened to kill us, no one would know she did it! Threatened to tie my little brother up to the bed and cut his ‘pee-pee’ off…. We were terrorized… we were standing there with our little mouths opened, trying to breathe. My little brother’s face reflected my face…. eyes wide, filled with fear… wondering what was going to happen now!

    When… the next thing we knew… we heard my mother’s voice! Oh… we put our heads to the door trying to listen. My mother was not only beautiful… she was a force to be reckoned with. She’d fight to the end to protect us!

    We heard her ‘light in on that babysitter’…. she was screaming at her to get the f___ out, never come back! We sneaked out of the bathroom enough to peep… close enough to run back into that bathroom! The babysitter grabbed her coat, bottle, brown bag… ran out the door’ her boyfriend behind her! My mother locked the door behind her. We ran to her!

    I told my mama I couldn’t believe she was there! I told her I didn’t think she believed me. She told us that she ‘sneaked back’ when the babysitter wouldn’t know it, to see for herself. She caught both the babysitter, and her boyfriend…

    My childhood was filled with such memories…. some that I ‘can’t go on to remember’… scary! :)))
    This is what came to mind when reading your experience with the water!

    Once, I was going to ‘float over the deepest part’ of the river up in the mountains where I lived. I was assured that ‘if something happened’…. I’d be saved. I believed. Needless to say … we were all young people… everyone’s attention didn’t stay on me… so, when I got over the deepest part… I realized it, panicked… began fighting the water, began drowning.

    No one noticed my mighty battle beneath… to struggle to live! Finally … someone’s arms grabbed me! I almost died that day…

    Just had to tell you these things…. memories that were scary to me. The owner of that huge, grand, old house, her big son … still haunts my dreams… even now. :)))

  8. Understandable you’d have a healthy fear of water now. My younger brother almost drowned in a lake (my mom rescued him after he dropped into a deep hole underwater). Just witnessing that was enough to scare me. I was once bitten by a mean dog when I was around 7 years old, right on my leg. There was blood and lots of screaming. Funny though, I still love dogs.

  9. My parents would engage in an active game of denial. What was being denied was that I was their son. They’d go on for what would seem like hours wondering who I was or how I got in their house.

  10. Pingback: Scariest childhood memories | Two on a Rant

  11. drishism says:

    To the best of my knowledge I have vanquished nearly all my childhood fears. One fear I conquered, but lingered with me for quite a long time, was about trees that would come alive at night and rip me from my bed. If I remember correctly, that fear was inspired by a poltergeist movie.

    A childhood fear that I had as a kid, and still struggle with from time to time, has to do with spiders. The fact that something so small can be so deadly is still creepy to me. In fact, one of my friends had to go to the hospital Friday because of a bite from a suspected brown recluse spider in Indiana. I tried to watch the movie “Arachnophobia” repeatedly to conquer my fear childhood fear of spiders… but it did not help.

  12. My scary memories revolve around death of children and are too painful to share, unfortunately. :-/

  13. queenlorene says:

    At night my window shade above my air conditioner made a figure of a man in a hat at my window. I spent long hours at night with one eye peeped open to make sure he didn’t move. Sometimes at night I would hear what I thought was the sound of a cane on the sidewalk. Those nights I wouldn’t move a muscle from pure terror.

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