The other day (read months ago) my old pal Mickster and I were talking about what else, scary crap that scared us. I mentioned to her that one thing people seem to underestimate is the importance of when you view something. I’m not talking about what age; I’m talking about what mind frame. In other words if a tornado recently killed your favorite cow, it’s the wrong time to watch TWISTER. I didn’t use that dumb example whilst talking with the Mickster. Instead I told her of an ancient dark memory that took place in the chilling nightmare winter of 1999. I was going through a depressing break-up, no doubt imagining a long grey road ahead and I decided that the perfect thing to watch was BUFFY THE VAPIRE SLAYER as it was sure to cheer me up because many of my imaginary pals live on that show. The episode airing that evening was “Hush” which pitted Buffy and cohorts against a small tribe of grimacing floating demons that hung around with shifty creatures in straightjackets. At some point during the episode, I was surprised to find myself morbidly horrified in a way I could not have predicted. Mind you, it wasn’t fear I felt but a kind of pessimist nausea mixed with an inescapable sense of doom. I was going to die alone and the universe couldn’t hold in its giggle.
Upon hearing my confession Mickster revealed that she, my unmet friend, on the same evening albeit in a different time zone was experiencing a similar encounter with the episode. With her permission, here is her story…
On December 13, 1999, I underwent surgery for the second time in a three-week period. It was an unpleasant experience that was compounded by the fact that I was 2,000 miles from my family, and my husband, at the time, was a worthless alcoholic that dumped me at the hospital to go through it all alone. The next day, I was in a great deal of pain from the surgery and gas pain that accompanies surgery as well. I was hooked up to a morphine pump to manage the pain. As I struggled to become comfortable on the evening of December 14, I looked for something to watch on TV. I was delighted to find an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer just starting. The evening was about to become memorable, as this was the episode titled “Hush.” As I watched, the “Gentlemen” stealing hearts from victims who were unable to scream naturally disturbed me, but I was also aware that it was kind of a metaphor for my life at the time. I felt as though I had no voice, as my heart was slowly being ripped from my chest day-by-day and year-by-year. In fact, the pain from the surgery did not compare to my emotional pain. Who would think that an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would force me to recognize the real pain in my life? It took me a bit longer to gain my voice to destroy the “Gentleman” that was ripping at my heart than it did Buffy, but I eventually did. Thanks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and the morphine) for opening my eyes.
O.K., Mickster’s story kind of makes my story sound like a Haagen-Dazs stained Cathy comic. What can I say? I’m easily discombobulated. Egad, what kind of cad leaves his wife in the hospital? And what kind of person still uses the word “cad”? Anyway, the point remains, when one is in a fragile state of mind they are that much more vulnerable to the creeps. Why just recently Kindertrauma Castle was under siege by miniscule calamities of one sort or another and I thought I might escape by falling asleep to a scratchy HORROR HOTEL VHS tape. I didn’t get half way through the gloomy chant-filled opening credits before I decided to nix that plan and switch to XANADU. I may have even quoted LaWANDA PAGE in MAUSOLEUM (1983) by exclaiming “No more grieving, I’m leaving!” as I pulled out the tape. Incidentally, I want that quote carved on my tombstone.
On the other hand let’s not overlook the fact that the “Gentleman” are indeed legitimately off-putting even in the lightest of circumstances. I mean, they’re like POLTERGEIST 2’s Reverend Kane crossed with the chauffer from BURNT OFFERINGS, shmooshed with PHANTASM’s “Tall Man” piled up with any number of ghouls from THE SENTINEL, times four and with a dollop of Mr. Burns and “The Slender Man” on the side. Worse still, and this may be where I outdo Mickster on the trauma front, when I look in the mirror I know the years before I resemble one are few! Oh no, now I’m getting depressed again, is it getting darker in here? Where is my XANADU tape? What cruel inhuman monster would hide it?