17 March 2011


Fear is a serious matter.

Our story begins today, March 17, 2011, St. Patrick's Day, 3 days after March 14, 2 months and 10 days after January 7, 2 months and [some] days before June 15. On this particular morning, I woke up as I do every morning, tired, roll off the couch, fumble around for my glasses without which I can see naught but the brown pointy things on the other side of the room which seem to be flirting with me, glasses on, realize the brown pointy things are straws stained with left over coke and enumerate the number of times I've gone to White Castle this week alone, and after I catch my legs underneath me which are aching due to another night having passed out on the couch, I trip over the shoes and socks that line the way through my living room, to the kitchen, to the bathroom, to the shower. Someday I'm going to pick those up. Wet then dry. Being too mirror-inept to use a hair straightener, I comb my hair straight down which, when it dries, creates a nice Bieberesque effect. Choose the cleanest clothes that match out of the mountain that now makes up the middle of my bedroom floor. Skip breakfast. I'll eat some Werther's Originals once at work, and there's that basket full of Jolly Ranchers that continuously calls my name. Leon. Leon! Shake such nonsense out of my head as my hair, now dry, falls softly over my eyes. In my dreams. Teeth brushed. Smile glistening. I'm getting so efficient at this that the words I scribbled on the mirror months ago are still slowly fading as the steam in the bathroom lifts, reminding me that there's a zombie out there for everyone, even me. Lock the door. Double check the door. Unlock the car. Keys. Ignition. I escape to that imaginary place as I pull out backwards then forwards and somehow arrive at work with no clue as to how I made it alive.

Now at work, conversation with coworker about food begins, the realization that it's now the 17th of March sets in as I look at the LCD interactive interface on the upper-right side of my phone which reads, "March 17 2011." Take off my glasses to clean them with the blue lens cloth secured safely in the top left drawer, right above the chamber which houses that bag of Werther's, a box of oatmeal, some Halloween candy, a bag of pretzels that might be nearing one year old, and a 2009 due-dates calendar that lines the bottom of the drawer. I look around before returning the glasses their home on the bridge of my nose and notice blurs and streaks of different shades of green. As these shapes gain focus, I become aware that everyone is wearing green. I'm wearing purple. Root around in that top drawer and behold! I find a pin with just enough green to satisfy even the strictest abider of St. Patrick's day etiquette. As I don the pin I feel a sharp pain. Am I sticking myself with the pin? No. The pain is coming from another location. My arm, left, bicep, sharp! Pain! AGONY! PINCH?!

"You're not wearing green."

"Aha! Alas, methinks this looks like green. What sayest thou, ya big jerk?" I reply, signaling with my right index finger to the pin that should have saved me from such devotion to the pinching game that takes place every 17th of March. "How would you like not one, but TEN pinches?"

Pinch. Pinch. Pinch. Pinch. Pinch. Pinch. Pinch. Pinch. Pinch. Pinch.

"You're a cheater! You cheater!" he announces to the rest of the office, and half of Columbia, as he walks away sporting 10 mini welts that are now as red as a green bowling ball isn't.

I would feel sympathy pain were it not for my own pinch-pain from that pinch that was so carefully chosen to attack the most sensitive piece of flesh on the backside of the bicep. Suddenly waterfalls causing pools and floods of memories begin taking over my already-cluttered mind. Every single St. Patrick's day of every single year of my existence was displayed before my imaginary gaze. Then it happened. The pain of a suppressed memory attempting to surface itself after 19 years of being dormant overtook the now-numbed pinch-pain in my upper arm.

I stood 4-foot-9, my boat-shaped, webbed-toed feet perched me up as I began washing my hands in the boys' bathroom. I looked in the mirror at the awkward, adolescent face staring back at me. The pain in my left arm was gone. It was March 17th, 1992. I was in the fourth grade.

St. Patrick's day. This only meant one thing. I zip out of the bathroom and rush over to my backpack, carefully avoiding the piles of desks and tote trays which carefully lined the walls of the classroom creating a perfectly open space in which 30 kids can sit on the floor and watch a movie. Open the bag: it was there! A 20 oz. Dr. Pepper with the regular, screw-on cap switched for a nozzle top taken from a similarly sized bottle of Geyser a day earlier, accompanied by an entire can of BBQ Pringles, all for yours truly. Movie day means bring-a-soda-and-snack-to-school day. Excitedly I rip the clear, plastic cover off the nozzle, bite the tip with my teeth, and pull up. I'm a quick learner. For example, I learned right now that, when a bottle of soda has been resting quietly in the bottom of a 4th-grader's backpack, and when only a few hours before, that same backpack was resting on the shoulders of that same 4th-grader who walked, ran, jumped, probably fell down multiple times due to his oversized feet on the way to school, and was then tossed into the corner as he hung up his jacket, and then hung on the same hook, a few hours is not enough time for all that pressure contained within a presently bulging, thin layer of cylindrical plastic to settle, and when an opening at last presents itself, that soda is going to rush out like Old Faithful after waiting exactly 1 hour into whatever cavernous space now surrounds the opening.


Back in the bathroom. Shirt now patted down with paper towels. That's going to be sticky. Still unable to breathe through my nose, I find a nice spot on the not-so-nice floor, and the movie begins. Darby O'Gill and the Little People. What is this, 30 years old? Oh look, a little guy. Music. Borrrring. Wind howls. Wind? Nay, the Banshee! Her scream! HER SEE-THROUGH FACE! HER CARTOON ARMS FLAILING ABOUT! STOP! YOUR LANTERN CAN'T SAVE YOU! YOU'RE DEAD, DARBY O'GILL! RUN!!!

As the years have passed, what is the only fear I have ever had? Camping. Sleeping outside. Sleeping on the trampoline. Tent. By the fire. Not by the fire. Miles from nowhere. Backyard. It didn't matter. The second the wind starts blowing, howling, I know the truth. That's no wind. It's the Banshee. We're all screwed. Hide inside my sleeping bag. Cower. I'm a coward. Flashes of light! It's HER! LeOnNNn! LeeOONN!!! Cartoon arms. LEOonn!


Splash! Cold water. I snap out of it. I'm laying on the office floor that we only think has been vacuumed, but that crumb in the corner tells me differently. A coworker stands over me. "Leon, are you alright?!"

"Yes. It's time to face my fears."

"Where is he going?" I hear them inquire as I grab my purple jacket. Storm out of work. Car. Keys. Ignition. Best Buy. Look around at Apple stuff. Talk video games with nerdy employee. Find movie. Pay. Imagination mode. Home. Projector: on. Movie: in. Volume: up. Sean Connery? Bad actors. 1959, what did I expect? Music. Chuckles. Oh look, a little guy. Cool fiddle. Mini horses? Silly dialogue. Fun. Wind howls...no...no, not again....it's Her. The Banshee. Frightened. Thumb in mouth. Close eyes. Cowering. Coward. Open your eyes! It's fake! Cartoon arms? Flailing?! Darby! RUN!!! It's over.

I faced my fears.

5 wisecrack(s):

Robin said...

I like this. Great story. I don't think I've ever seen that movie all the way through. I should. Banshees are scary though.

garrett said...

You're a weirdo. But that was still fun to read.

Peeser said...

Long time, no blog.

Nice pictures.

Way to man-up and face those phobias.

Go get 'em, tiger.

(And may the luck o' the Irish keep all your St. Patty's Days pinch-free.)

Robby Spratt said...

Hey you blogged again! This was a really good one too! I've never seen that movie, but I probably should.
I also forgot to wear green on St. Paddy's Day this year, luckily only one person called me out on it. They were too intimidated to pinch me once I explained that I actually lived in Ireland for a couple of years and thus was exempt from any silly American traditions stemming from Ireland's most favorite bank holiday.
Hey, we need to catch up sometime. :)

Chess said...

I didn't understand a thing in this post, except that you need to eat a better breakfast. :)


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