Coyote sightings were recently reported along the biking/hiking trail in my neighborhood. Coyotes—an animal I associate with the Wild West, lonesome prairie towns, and the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote. I took note of the precautions issued by the police department: don’t approach them, make loud noises to scare the off. I also did a thorough Internet search to better inform myself. Armed with facts and a whistle from Wal-Mart, I ventured onto the trail, determined not to be afraid.
And discovered I was.
And discovered, to my delight, I was glad to be afraid, not only out of respect for the wild animal whose path I might cross, but because the emotion of fear brought me back to my childhood.
Years ago, I read Annie Dillard’s splendid memoir, “An American Childhood.” Among the passages that struck a chord with me were those in which she described her free, unsupervised wanderings through resident...
I have, yes, on occasion, checked under my bed for … well, whatever evil entity lurks beneath beds. I maintain a healthy supply of nightlights and Raid. I firmly believe that amusement parks featuring roller coasters and other death-defying rides are anything but amusing. I hate Halloween, wouldn’t go into a haunted house if you paid me, and I hope Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling are not resting in peace.
Some people actually seek experiences that scare the pants off them.
Some people are out of their minds.
An entire genre of cinema exists for these loonies: horror movies. As a film enthusiast unwilling to be excluded from the cultural conversation, I’ve watched my share (mostly through the fan of my fingers across my face). I still get the creeps thinking of those twin girls standing in the hallway of the hotel in “The Shining.” Or remembering Linda Blair’s head doing a t...