Two of your previous Traumafessions have conspired to remind me of a fleeting terror of my own.
Sean of the Dead’s HAPPY DAYS story was terrifying to me as well. As Mickster points out in her comment, I DID hide behind the couch every time I thought that headless figure in the rocker was about to appear.
Also I think Kurt tapped my brain with his memories of ancient weather alerts. The 1974 Superoutbreak that Mickster mentions took the roof off of several houses in my neighborhood. I wasn’t living there yet, but I saw pictures of the damage as a child. Then the 1989 F4 Tornado touched down about a mile from my house.
But there was ANOTHER HAPPY DAYS episode (season 6, “Fearless Malph”) that stuck in my brain like an echo ever since.
That episode involved Ralph Malph’s pantophobia and a professor who hypnotized him into being (you guessed it) fearless. Richie and Malph (and possibly Potsie) visited the Professor because Richie was working on some dumb article for his school newspaper. While they were there, the Professor’s lab rats began to act all jittery, which Prof reads as a prediction for a Tornado to hit Milwaukee at PRECISELY 6:22 that evening. What the hell??? How has the science of meteorology regressed so much since the ‘50s? Anyway, this is the point when Malph is hypnotized, everyone runs off to Arnold’s to warn the gang of their impending doom, and then the tornado strikes and mayhem reigns supreme. Everyone dies, the end.
But what really got me about this episode and what really made it resonate in my mind for all these years is that I watched it at home on a sunny summer day. The kind of summer day that anyone from Alabama knows will turn black as pitch not long after lunch and then rain destruction down on you while you huddle in the bathtub or under the stairs. And what do you know, not 30 minutes before this very episode of HAPPY DAYS aired, the weather alert sirens went off, the radio upstairs and the one on the T.V. I’m pretty sure it was just a warning, because my father remained in his office upstairs working. However, seeing the names of surrounding counties scrolling at the bottom of the screen, and seeing the sky turn black outside my window while the kids from Milwaukee are pelted by debris on screen…well… I wasn’t familiar with the term “surreal” at the time, but I knew what it felt like.
I’m not scared of tornadoes like I was as a child anymore, and I’ll never think of them the same way. They have passed beyond reality for me, into the realm of myth. Now, a tornado watch/warning is something that piques my interest, like a good ghost story or stumbling across an old T.V. show on cable late at night. I can’t not watch.