I miss the days when unrealistic fears outweighed real-world ones.

In the mid-seventies, I was given my first bike. I didn’t realize at the time that this meant I’d have to visit the haunted basement beneath our apartment complex at least twice a day, once to take it out and later to return it. The floor was covered in dead roaches and water bugs from previous fumigations but never ever swept up, and a single swinging bare bulb dangling from the middle of the ceiling that swayed gently as though in the belly of a ship.

that’s not cookies

It was dark enough that I could barely make out shapes inside each unpainted, slatted storage locker. I’m not going to claim anything horrible happened down there, but I was an imaginative kid and inclined to stay out way too late into the night. Nothing ever happened down there, but I’ve dreamt about that space on and off since.


About twenty-five years later, we moved into a condo in Evanston. This is the basement where I organized my comics and worked on my bike, usually late at night when my wife was asleep. In comparison it was remarkably well-lit:

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do you see the eyes? how about the fingers?
“free hugs!” something whispered.

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There was something moving down here though. It ran through a gap into a storage space. My brain processed the movement as CAT, so after my initial surprise I tried to coax it out. I had three cats at the time so I had treats aplenty to offer, but no luck. That’s when the smell hit me. Around the corner of the first photo was a field of cat feces and urine. I took photos and sent them to the board. I’ll spare you guys.

It turned out that one of our neighbors was over the pet limit (two, btw, and yes we were over the limit as well. *shrug*) and was keeping her “extra” cats in the basement. She cleaned up the mess and eventually moved out.

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So you see? There’s nothing to fear.


What irrational fears did you have as a child? Do you still fear them?

(I’m offline for most of the day but I’ll check back later. This week sucks.)