Wednesday, October 15, 2014

8 Things Scarier than American Horror Story

American Horror Story: Freak Show premiered last week, and everyone has been frenzied with anticipation for the new season. I watched a few minutes of the first episode, but once Twisty the homicidal clown started hacking away on a guy in very vivid, violent detail, I had to shut it down. Maybe you've seen the show, possibly you haven't, but almost everyone has heard about its reputation for bringing the terrifying to television. Is it scary? Without a ghostly, haunted doubt. But as the saying goes, "truth is better than fiction," and I can think of a few things that are even scarier than a handful of fictional characters in a freak show; things that would make ol' Twisty squirm inside that clown suit.

Here is just a small sample of every day horrors more frightening than American Horror Story...because while I haven't encountered a two-headed, split personality oddity like they have on the show, these things are very, very real to me.

1. Making eye contact with one of those kiosk people in the mall. One moment, your only care in the world is if you should pay full price for that sweater in Anthropologie or wait and hope it winds up in the sale room, and the next, you are being slathered with miracle lotions and pressured into buying skincare kits from "world renowned" companies no one has ever heard of before. You can't break free because they are busy moisturizing every inch of skin they can find, while sticking business cards and coupons in every pocket and orifice of yours they can manage. These people are relentless retail torturers, and I find it especially frightening because nothing that you say or do seems to daunt their hard sell routine. My best advice is to throw one of their samples in the other direction as a distraction, and run like the (lotion covered) wind.

2. Answering the phone without looking at the caller ID (daunting in and of itself), thinking you know who is on the other end, only to have them answer, "What?!?" upon hearing your witty greeting. That is a moment of terror that will get your pulse pounding. My mom, from time to time, will pick up the phone when I call with a friendly, "Stop calling here!" She almost fainted last year when she answered a call she assumed was from me in her special way, only to find out the caller was a lady from her church congregation calling about Bible study. I'm pretty sure they have permanently barred her from serving on the hospitality committee.

3. Your dog sits up in the bed in the middle of night and growls into the dark, for what you hope/think/pray is no apparent reason. Gulp. Now lie there and try not to jump at every sound you hear for the next four hours while you try to doze back off to dreamland. In my case, my dog is 18-pounds and completely blind, which means he is neither fully aware of his surroundings nor a very intimidating watch dog. It makes for a slightly-less-than-peaceful slumber, I can tell you that.

4. Getting stuck in the corner at a gathering with a big, dull, dud who won't take the hint and realizing there are no rescuers in sight. Being slaughtered by a killer clown seems like a picnic compared to the endless, droning tales of allergies, gluten-free recipes, and Montessori schooling advantages. Thanks to the age of iPhones, there will now also be a slide show from Dull Dud's camera roll of little junior's latest Boy Scout badge ceremony, and a real time video from little cutesy's dance recital. Are you starting to panic yet? Thaasophobia is the fear of boredom (go ahead, look it up), and it is real.

5. A friend calls to tell you she's in the neighborhood and thought she'd just drop by in a few minutes--which means you have about 360 seconds to try and hide the fact that you are still in your pajamas and your house looks like a promo spot for an episode of Hoarders. I mean, not that this has ever happened to me, of course--my house, like my personal appearance, is always tidy and well kept (ha), but I have heard from friends that it will set your heart a-racing. Now, quick, shove that stuff under the couch and throw a kitchen towel over the dirty dishes.

6. That sinking moment when you finish eating something and only then notice that, according to the packaging, it expired last week. Suddenly, you don't feel well, do you? Or are you fine? No, you definitely feel "off" somehow. Right? Enjoy having this debate with yourself for the next 12 hours while waiting to see if sickness is coming for you. Lions, and tigers, and bears, and placebo effects, oh my!

7. Trying on swimsuits in early spring, before the sun has had a chance to take the incandescent glow from your thighs. Your New Year's resolutions have either never started or have already gone by the wayside, and you are still carrying some extra "warmth" from that stretch of anti-diet that occurs from Halloween candy to Christmas cookies and eggnog. There are few images that will haunt your dreams the way those of your pale, spandex-clad body glowing underneath fluorescent dressing room lighting can. Things that go bump in the night have got nothing on things that bulge, jiggle, and dimple.

8. This one is probably the most horrifying of them all, so prepare yourselves and know that you have been warned. It is not for the faint of heart. Take a deep breath, and when you feel ready, proceed:

A woman asks, "What did you say?" The odds are approximately 99.999% that she has heard exactly what you said, and this is the chance she is giving you to correct yourself before she rips you to pieces. The best reaction to this hazard is similar to protocol for being attacked by a grizzly bear. Do not make any sudden movements, or engage in any behavior that could be deemed aggressive. If the woman cannot be distracted or calmed, play dead. Lie down, and do your best to cover your vital organs in preparation for attack. And for the love of Pete, stay quiet. Trying to talk your way out of such situations could result in a higher casualty count. Lie there and wait for the storm to pass, and hope someone else says something stupid soon to save you from yourself.

After touring that little house of horrors, you do your best, knife-wielding, hatchet-toting carnival folk. I live in the real, cellulite-laden, boring-party-folk populated, questionable-food-safety world. You can't scare me. But if you could scare off those mall kiosk folks, I'd be ever grateful.

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