Author's Note: First off, I just wanted to say thank you so much to all of you. I know I haven't been the best columnist these past few erm . . . months . .. missing weeks and weeks of writing. I'm so overjoyed to see that you guys still support me, and you don't hate me. To tell you honestly, there was a time when I wasn't sure the column would be back. But just sending in the last article made me realize how much I truly missed writing this week after week. I just want to thank you all so much for still supporting me and reading my writing. I hope that "Life Lessons" will be around for a long time to come!
So it might startle you if you were driving along the highway, and then I jumped out of your trunk and screamed something about pancakes. It might also startle you if you were looking in your bathroom mirror after taking a shower, and there I was, eating nachos and dancing in a large cake right behind you. It might scare you however, if you were in bed at about 3 o'clock in the morning, only to awake to a clown face staring down at you with pointy fangs and holding a ferocious and armed puppet. There is a difference between being startled and scared. And also fearing for your life as you run through places you really don't want to run through.
Let's explore the simplified definitions of the following varying states of fear that I have spent hours preparing for your hungrily knowledge seeking minds.
Startled - Let's say . . . you are walking down the street one day, and then a large person in a banana suit jumps from a tree and lands right in front of you. You may initially be quite afraid, but after a second you realize that it was just your long lost Uncle Albert coming back from the jungle.
Scared - Pretend one day you are walking down the street when suddenly your cell phone rings showing an unknown number. You pick up, hear breathing but no voices, so you snap the phone shut. You then call the number back.
"Hello?" a deep male voice says into the voice.
"This number just called my phone." You would explain.
"No it didn't," He would try to reason with your all-knowing mind.
"Yes it did."
"No it didn't. Now hang up the phone. It anyone asks this conversation never took place. This never happened," you then hear a click.
That event would probably send a feeling of fear through your little nerves, on account of an odd man just called you and then told you that it never happened.
Now, there is also one more type of escalated fear. This is fearing for your life. This is also where the bountiful fountain of knowledge begins, so drink up, youthful ones.
It was a Friday night that started out as innocent as any other Friday night in history, except the ones where I was not at a dance party. Because, let's face it, decoupage on a Friday night is a lot more innocent than "Smacking That" with Akon.
After an exciting round of ripping up the floor, I was ready to take a simple stroll home with 2 of my friends and then go to sleepy-bye. Sounds simple enough, but with my life, we can all predict that it just didn't happen that way.
To get to my house from this dance party was not a long nor complicated walk, but at 11pm when trees look like long hotdogs reaching out to strangle you, and bushes look like deranged land-fish that just want to rip your eyes out a force them down your throat, it gets a little long and complicated.
So as me and my posse were ambling along the quiet path beside the river, we suddenly noticed a figure on a bench. A suspicious figure on a bench with a large bag beside them, which also looked quite suspicious in the moonlight.
One of my brightest and most intelligent friends was so stricken by this overall suspicious image playing itself out in our retinas, that she screamed something along the lines of, "Book it!" but instead it sounded like, "Hooker!" which tends to attract suspicious people on benches. The figure rose up and clutched the mysterious bag, so the three of us ran full force up a large hill. Yes Whyville, that's right, I managed to run up a giant hill in clogs without falling. If only this luck would continue . . .
As we rose above the hill, we finally came to the stop where we are supposed to walk through a peaceful garden. Now, this peaceful stroll turned out to be a little more than a large man in a banana suit or a mysterious phone call that never happened, this turned out to be the top of the fear pyramid. This was like the head cheerleader of all fear. That head cheerleader kneeled on the pyramid as high as the darned girlish man could, escalating my fear further and further.
Now, I may seem perfect to all of you, but may I point out I have two flaws that tend to make life difficult.
1) When I laugh really, really hard, I have to lay down on the ground or else there is a possibility there could be a repeat of the time I hit my head on a paper towel dispenser in the Pizza shop and started bleeding from the scalp into the sink.
2) When I am extremely scared, my knees tend to give out. Now this is probably a good thing at points, because once I was really scared of a rabid squirrel and started running, and then because my knees didn't stop me I ran face first into a birch tree and started bleeding from the scalp into the garden.
As I stood there catching my breath, I could only thank my knees for not giving out on me or else I might have taken a particularly nasty spill down a gravel hill and possibly been swooped into a mysterious bag of substances.
Let's just say I spoke to soon, because as soon as my friend uttered the words (Pay attention, this is important. Don't be distracted, I'm not dancing in a cake in your bedroom right now).
"Did you know this garden is a graveyard?"
My face went pale and my knees felt like a bowl full of ground pepper full of water and soap and topped with some fresh lemon juice that just got poured into a very nasty head wound.
"We're going around it," I reasoned with her, pleading with my eyes. You may recall from a previous "Life Lesson" that also included head wounds, that I am not a huge fan of the paranormal. In fact, I am quite afraid of such things, therefore I was not in the mood to run through a graveyard at 11PM with suspicious bench figures in the area.
"Shut up, we'll just run," she said, and started sprinting through the not so lovely garden. Unless I wanted to take the detour behind a particularly creepy old church, I had no other choice. Let's just say I'm not a fan of creepy churches.
So I sprinted, oh I sprinted as I feared for my life. I sprinted like a gazelle running from a mighty lion. I leaped over benches and waded through ponds (probably ponds of blood or something) as fast as I could in order to get out of that graveyard. I was ahead of my friends, hobbling over the crooked rocks and trying not to look at the gravestones that probably lined the bushes.
I hiked through candy canes and dodged the bananas my mind set in front of me, and gazelled further through the tangling weeds of the garden-ey grave. I was almost out, when all of a sudden . . .
My feet were pulled from underneath the rest of my sprinting figure, and my face hit the pavement with an unsettling noise. I felt the icy grasp of what was definitely a ghost around my ankle.
Even though the few seconds after that smack on the pavement are a little blurry in my memory now, because, impact on cement is not exactly forgiving and probably resulted in more issues than I already have, I'm pretty sure I yelled something along the lines of
"AAAAAAARGHAFHALKFJSAJA:FKJHAGAKLHAD:LAKHADODIAHKJAHDFALKJDHGAJKLDHAKHDALUVNBANMF>AALKHDALAKJBFYLU!" After the initial slurring of phrases was out, I definitely yelled "ANENRAGEDGHOSTISGRASPEDONMYANKLEOHGOSHWHATTHEHECKSAVEYOURSELVES!!!!!!!!!"
It was then that I initially realized that I was somewhat upside down, or at least that's what I thought. I tried to right-side up myself, but this was unsuccessfully finished and just resulted in another bump on the face. I then could hear the panicked footsteps of the friends I had sprinted past, and realized that the ghost had grasped my waist at this point. I writhed and seized as much as I could in an unsuccessful effort to free myself from the icy grasp of the mystical creature.
"HELP MY WOUNDED SOUL!" I screamed as I tried to wiggle free of the grasp this ghost had on me.
It was at this point I heard insane choruses of laughter.
Oh no they didn't.
THE GHOSTS WERE LAUGHING AT ME.
I screamed louder in efforts for some ears to hear my pleading, when a hand muffled my mouth and my eye opened in shock. I didn't know ghosts had solid hands . . .
Let me tell you that laughter was not coming from ghosts.
I opened my eyes to see two of my friends, standing over top of me, muffling my screams. They were laughing too hysterically to explain anything, so this was a moment I had to use my damaged head to sort out myself.
The thing is, they were indeed not ponds of blood but fish ponds.
The second thing is, when my feet got swept from underneath me, they were indeed not swept out by ghosties, but indeed I collided with a particularly solid marble bench situated in the middle of said graveyard.
The third thing is, said collision caused me to flip upside down, so I was lying in an awkward position with my ankles wedged between the bench and the back part of the bench.
Is being publically wedged in a marble bench the worst of the situation?
Knowing some of the experiences I've been through, I think your enriched minds already know the answer.
See, it turns out it wasn't even a freaking graveyard. My friends had just taken another stab at my minor phobia of the paranormal.
So in brief summary, I got caught upside down, wedged between a bench, soaked up to my knees from wading through ponds, screaming about being grasped by a ghost, at 11 PM with the only shelter from the world seeing me being a thin row of bare shrubs, in the middle of a nice, quaint garden lining a nice little church. Let's just say many of the people in the passing cars had something to talk about the next day.
So for this week's "Life Lesson", kids, you can add to your list of things you've learned from me to watch for benches while running through graveyards, and always check to see if it is really a ghost grabbing your ankle when put in this compromising situation. If you neglect to do this, you could get stuck upside down on a bench.