I’m not somebody who scares easily. No I’m not trying to say that I’m some type of gallant 13th Century squire who fears nothing. Nor am I some brave heroic superhero who will stand up to any foe.
I am cowardly. I am non-confrontational. I am meek.
But I still don’t become scared. And the reason for that being is that I don’t put myself in situations where I would ever become scared. I don’t frolic through the woods at midnight with nothing but a lantern and a walking stick. I don’t venture alone through haunted houses as white smoke billows from every corner and clown laughter echoes from the background.
I also don’t skydive or base jump, and if I ever got called to the front lines for battle, I would flee to Canada faster than you can text message me to tell me that I am a pussy.
For those reasons, I don’t scare easily. I keep myself in safe, controlled environments, surrounded by people I trust. I’m like Reuben Feffer from Along Came Polly. I play it safe. And as a result, I live a scare-free, non-stressful life, and it’s great.
But that all changes in the middle of the night. I’m talking about like 3 to 4 a.m. And again, it’s not because I put myself into dangerous, frightening situations at those times. Instead, it’s all about context.
Unfortunately, I’m at that age in life where I have to wake up at least once a night to pee. And that’s on a good night — I have been known to wake up as many as four times in the middle of the night to pee. It sucks. But it’s necessary.
To get to the bathroom, I have to walk across the width of my hallway. Of course, the width is only about four feet long at best, but in the middle of the night, when I’m still half asleep and it’s dark and dead silent, that distance feels more like 400 feet.
I don’t know what it is. It’s something about still being in that flux between half-awake and half-asleep that puts me on edge. As mellow and calm as I am by day, I am petrified and scared shitless at night. I’m like a deer in the middle of an open field who is being hunted. Because let’s face it, being a deer sucks. Everything tries to kill you. People, wolves, coyotes, bears, crocodiles, and heck, even large owls probably have murdered deer before.
Well that’s me. I’m the deer.
And this is something I only realized in my later years, but I tend to have very apocalyptic dreams. My dreams seem to always take place during some situation where the world is on the verge of ending, and I’m trying my best to survive. My entire dream existence is like a Roland Emmerich movie.
So when you combine all of those elements, being half-asleep, the darkness, and the feeling of just waking up from imminent death — that is what makes the middle of the night the most frightening time in the world.
When I unlock my door 3 a.m. to head to the bathroom — because of course I lock my door — I turn my head towards the end of the hallway and expect to see the girl from The Ring walking towards me. I look at the bottom of the stairs and brace myself for the creepy twins from The Shining to be looking at me. And even when I’m finally in the bathroom, I expect Norman Bates to come out of nowhere and stab me with a knife while wearing a wig a la Psycho. And when I do return safely to my room, I check inside my closet to make sure the little Asian boy from The Grudge didn’t creep in while my door was ajar.
I’m so nervous that my heart rate during these moments must equal that of a baby gerbil.
The other night, I woke up around 3 a.m., and I noticed that my throat was incredibly parched. I tried to ignore it, but I quickly
realized that I would not be able to fall back asleep without a drink of water. The worst part? Our Poland Spring bottles are located in the garage.
That means I had to walk down the creaky stairs, creep across the pitch-black kitchen, and enter my stoned floor, ice-cold garage, full of cobwebs and dust. When I was halfway down the steps during this journey, I thought I was seriously going to break into tears. I almost regretted not bringing a handheld video camera so I could film my own Blair Witch Project video.
Somehow, though, I managed to make it. And henceforth, I am keeping several unopened water bottles near my bed at all times to avoid ever having to make that ghastly trip.
But then I fall into an easy slumber, and I wake up with the sun shining through, the birds chirping, and my cat scratching at the door wanting to get in. And I wonder how I was ever afraid.
Until it’s 3 a.m. again, and my bedroom turns into a scene from Paranormal Activity.
Or I could just save myself the trip to the bathroom and starting peeing my pants.