I would sit in my bed at night, just looking at it on the top shelf of my bureau. It’s pinpoint pupils somehow staring into me. I never told my Dad I didn’t want it in my room, because even as a child, that thought felt irrational to me. The idea that a tiny, lifeless toy could fill someone with a palpable sense of dread seems foolish to even think about now, but I know I was not alone in this. Not even close. Every single one of had that one toy, or that one painting, or that one trinket in our house growing up that just terrified us. The smartest of you vocalized that fear, so atleast your parents would remove said item, or make fun of you accordingly. But the most terrified of us, we just sat there, having staring contests with it, until we got old enough to throw it away ourselves. But if your toy is anything like mine was, throwing it away didn’t matter, because it has followed you your whole life, regardless.
You see, that clown that haunted me has haunted many, many generations of children. It was existed since the early 1900′s, and has never been changed from its original mold. It also doesn’t hurt that it is made out of cast-iron, and weighs about five pounds empty. The only reason I was subjected to it was because my Dad loved to collect antique toys as I was growing up. For those who don’t know, “antique toys” is another way to see “toys with the creepiest f*cking eyes you have ever seen in your life”. It seemed like there was one in every room. Some kind of classic toy, staring up at me with little, soul-sucking eyes. But there were two in particular, more than any of the other ones, that tormented my youth with their constant presence. And I now know they have haunted so many more than just me.
There was “Clown with tiny pupils who will eat your coins and your soul.” As shown here:
I would often leave dead ants in his hand as a sort of sacrificial gift, so he wouldn’t eat my soul.
And his best friend, “The monkey with the devil’s stare and inexplicably human wardrobe, who loves to play tiny cymbals RANDOMLY”
I dare any of you to look into this monkey’s eyes for ten seconds right now and NOT feel a part of you die.
Even posting those two pics right now instantly reminded me how I could feel their eyes in the dark, even as I tried to sleep. My insomnia started young, and when I write things like this, it is not hard to see why.
A funny thing as I got older, though. I realized I was not alone in that irrational fear of an inanimate object. A good friend of mine, who we will call Ryan, because that’s his actual name, had a painting in his house growing up, with kids playing next to an old farmhouse at dusk. And every time I would go over his house and see it, it would freak me out for some odd reason. Thing is, years later. I brought it up to him, and he seemed relived in letting me know that painting caused him a great deal of fear as a child, too.
Well, we didn’t know it then, but in the case of that painting, from a psychological standpoint, we were scared of the big creepy barn and the fact that it was getting dark out in the painting. Nothing more, nothing less. Things we had been TAUGHT to fear, justifiably. Big, scary places and when it gets dark outside. So the fear of that painting as children made sense.
No, he did not have the famous” haunted painting”, but I thought this would be a great visual example.
You see, there was no validity to the fear of these objects other than something about them, visually, scares us, or triggers a fear response in us. but Ryan and I found comfort in the fact that we BOTH found it creepy. He told me he can look at the painting and laugh now, and that is because he realized that the only power it ever held over him, he gave it.
But that matters not to the mind of a six-year-old who can’t sleep because the toy monkey in the corner of the room keeps RANDOMLY smashing his cymbals. No, this is not about to turn into a ghost story. I have already told you guys one of those. The monkeys cymbals would randomly bang because the monkey toy was an old wind-up-toy. Old wind-up-toys sometimes seem to have a mind of their own, but blame that more on rusty springs then demonic possession. It is easy to say that as an adult, though. Try to tell to that to a kid who has THIS staring at him all night from the corner of the room.
Yet, to some child, at some point, this was their beloved toy.
“When the children are all alone, I play them a song. And later, when they tell adults, no one ever believes them…”
OK, this one isn’t so much scary as it is wonderfully homoerotic.
But much like my points about snoring, wouldn’t all these irrational fears have been put to rest of we were just encouraged as children to be able to vocalize our fears without being mocked by adults? If your kid tells you there is a monster in his closet, and you say NO, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS, SILLY!, wouldn’t it be easier to just go to his closet, open the door, peek in for a second, realize he/she is PROBABLY talking about THIS:
My name is Ernie, and when you fall asleep, I grow legs and rape away your innocence.
And if your child is INDEED talking about a toy, which is somehow now inside the closet, than maybe your kid has some fears that are worth talking about. No, not the doll coming to life and killing them. I am saying they PUT the doll in there because it genuinely scares them. THAT is what should be discussed. Maybe it is up to parents to tell their children that, though some toys may LOOK creepy because they are old and represent a different time, that does not make them creepy or evil, and they have no solid reason to fear toys at all. But if you do that, what happens when you’re child switches it up? What happens you figure out they are right?
You say toys aren’t scary, and then you watch your kid go into the closet and pull out an old, beaten-up Jack-in-the-box, and all your own childhood fears coming flooding back to you like nausea. What then, when you figure out toys WERE meant to scare children.
Their single purpose has always been to scare us, it is easy to see that now.
And they wonder why we equate clowns with this:
The IT movie did not stand the test of time, but Pennywise is still scary as f*ck.
Or why we sometimes think of dolls as this:
This doll is from the “Come At Me, Bro!” line.
I mean, even the monkey thing. I know I was not the only scared by that exact, cymbal-playing monkey. George Romero even made a movie based around the image.
Oh, and it is kind of awesome. No joke, I loved Monkey Shines.
The point is, all you have to do is think about the Jack-in-the-box toy to realize scaring us was ALWAYS their intent.
Holy crap, a scary-ass-clown that unexpectedly leaps out of a colorful box and basically lunges at a child. What do you think that does to a small child’s frail,forming psychology? Shatters it, over and over. And WHY? Truthfully, I have no idea.
“Hey hunny, Daddy’s home, and he stopped at Satanic Toys-R-Us and bought you something…”
As a parent, in that single moment, looking down at your child, holding that old-ass, evil-looking, Jack-in-the-box, you will have nothing to say. Your child will inevitably pull your pant leg and ask you, with those massive, innocent eyes: Why Are All Toys SO SCAWY? And you will look down, square in their little eyes as a single fear-tear forms, and you’ll say: I don’t know…I just don’t know….but they are. And I’m sorry”
Just take note of this. If you are a good parent, get rid of all the scary-ass-clowns and antique toys you have lying around, because they are really nothing but unleaded nightmare fuel. As you can tell by this post, those are nightmares some of us never quite get over.
Squee. I decided to end this post with a picture of a cute puppy so we can all sleep a little better tonight.