Fanfare for the Common Man

  • Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I have a list of things that wig me out. It’s a detailed list.
Lots of things scare me, perhaps because there are lots of scary things out there.
Number 10: John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.”
It’s not the song, but the concept of the song as it pertains to the movie “Final Destination.” That’s the movie where a group of kids cheat death because of the main character’s dream of precognition. The premise of the movie is that you can’t cheat Death, and Death will maintain the delicate balance between life and itself by offing one character at a time until it gets everybody in the movie. Death announces its arrival with the playing of Rocky Mountain High.
Like today.  
I’m stopped at a traffic light when I hear the faint strains of the song coming from the car in the next lane, “Rocky Mountain High … Colorado …”
I flashback to the movie, and wonder if I didn’t cheat Death recently; and I’m about to be killed by a disabled Soviet satellite plummeting to earth or falling space debris.
It could happen.
Number 9: Cats (the animal or the musical).
Cats regard humans with a look of disdain that says, “Were it not for opposable thumbs you’d be eating off the floor and we would rule the earth.”
Cats are the epitome of indifference.
As for the musical, nobody should have to sit through two hours of that.
Number 8: Anything born with more than four legs.
I think this one is self-explanatory.
Number 7: Celine Dion.
Nothing human wails like that. Her too-big-insectoid-eyed visage is a front for something heinously alien, something from the Ninth Galactic Swarm for sure.
Number 6: Swimming in the ocean.
One word: Jaws.
Number 5: Mimes.
Pasty pale and always getting locked in these imaginary glass boxes from which they can never escape. Instead of just feeling around for the opening they should maybe find an imaginary baseball bat and take a few whacks. Plus they never speak. Ever.
Maybe Celine Dion could be a mime.
Number 4: Beanie Babies.
Hundreds of Beanie Babies, all lined up on shelves in what my mom calls “The Teddy Bear Room,” silently begging, “We’re toys, please play with us.”
They stare at me in the dark with their sad, black-button eyes because my brother took “The Whicker Room” because he’s afraid of Beanie Babies, too.
Number 3: Parrots.
I’ve never seen birds this blue. Or birds that talk.
The blue I can handle. It’s the talking part that’s unnerving.
“Pretty bird,” or, “Here kitty.” Imagine being Tarzan, alone in the jungle, scared out of your mind because there’s no way you can pull off Tarzan, and from the high treetops comes this disembodied voice, “Here kitty.”
If Stanley heard, “Here kitty,” in the jungle like I heard it at the beach this past weekend, Livingstone would never have been found.
Number 2: A Jack in the Box.
A dismembered clown head impaled on a spring jumping unexpectedly out of a box to “Pop Goes the Weasel,” I had nightmares about these things until I turned seven and went to the circus for the first time.
And met …
Number 1: Real clowns.
Bozo … Pennywise … in my eyes there’s no difference.
The leering ear-to-ear smile, the bulbous red nose, wild orange hair, oversized feet, manic laughter, and the inability to take three steps without tripping over himself.
To paraphrase FDR, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself … and clowns.”

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