I’m One of the Scaredy-Cats
by Susie Slanina
October 27, 2022
Scary Story illustration by artist Paul Bunch for Metro Goes Stargazing.
Admittedly, I’m one of the scaredy-cats. The least little thing might freak me out. A couple of years ago, Alan and I were at a lake. Sugar and Curry started growling. I saw something near the water and went to explore–it was a small, green reptilian thing–I was scared, and went to tell Alan. I hid by the van, nervously waiting while he investigated. He came back and tossed it at me. Aaack! It turned out to be a plastic crocodile with a mouth that opened and closed with fierce teeth. Whew, what a relief! I kept the crocodile and he stays on my car’s dashboard. His name is BB. I’m very fond of him, because he’s a good reminder to Be Brave. Thank-you, BB!
FEAR OF SPIDERS: I used to have a recurring dream about two spiders dangling down near my pillow. A poem I wrote about a spider became the catalyst for the Metro book series. You never know what a little poem might lead to!
I woke up the other day
And in my sink a spider lay.
My first reaction was dismay
Then I decided to let him stay.
I was careful not to splash him
And told my brothers not to smash him.
For five days he stayed in place
He let me get close and I studied his face.
He was skinny and brownish; his legs were quite hairy.
In no time at all, he wasn’t so scary.
He had two antennas on the top of his head
And big round bug eyes, the color of red.
After five days my mom said to me,
Maybe he’d like to be outside and free.
Now, if you’ve ever tried this, I know you would get,
That it’s more fun and easy to keep him in the sink as a pet.
But I scooped up his body, the size of one inch,
And placed him on a bush, trying hard not to flinch.
He seemed to know I meant him no harm,
He didn’t try anything creepy, like crawling up on my arm.
And now I miss him sitting there,
When I look at the sink it sure is bare.
I hope he is happy with a pretty web now to tend.
See you at Halloween, Spidey, my friend.
FEAR OF CARNIVAL RIDES: I blame my older brother for this. On Ferris Wheels, when we were at the very top, he’d look down at the wheel and say, “Look! I see a screw loose!”
One evening, he convinced me to get in line for a scary ride called The Hammer: Two rocket ships go faster and faster and when they reach the top, the riders are hanging upside down. No way was I going to get on that thing. My brother said, “Okay, just keep me company while I wait in line.”
In the long line, he described how fun it was: “You should go, It just tickles a little bit. It’s crazy fun, and you’ll love it!” I noticed everyone was having fun, laughing when they got off. I had many doubts, but he made it sound so enticing that I got in the rocket with him. The safety bar clamped over our laps, and the heavy door shut with a big CLANG. The rockets swayed gently back and forth in the beginning. I felt noble and was even looking forward to it. Then my brother looked at me with a smug smile. “YOU’RE DEAD!” My heart beat wildly–I wanted to escape! But it was too late, the rockets were already getting faster. I’ll never forget my first and last ride on THE HAMMER.
FEAR OF TECHNOLOGY: I think the word is Luddite. Fear of technology. I miss the days of carbon paper, typewriters, and rolodexes. My supervisor was showing me the new computer system and as it was booting up, I thought his stomach was growling. I miss the clickity-click of keys tapping and the satisfying sound of paper as you whoosh it out from the machine. In the last few months I finally bought my first cell phone. I don’t like it!
FEAR OF MATH/MATHS: I was shocked when a British friend referred to MATH as MATHS. “You mean there’s more than one?” I asked incredulously. I don’t have an analytical mind and it almost hurts when I have to do ‘figuring.’ In grade school, we first learned addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I really thought that was all there was…it couldn’t get any worse. Oh no, the next year there were pesky fractions, then New Math started and I was beyond help.
FEAR OF NOT READING: When I was a kid, I saw a Twilight Zone episode. It was the end of the world, but one guy survived. He seemed okay, because he had all these great books to read. But at the end, his eyeglasses shattered. That stayed with me.
FEAR OF SCARY STORIES: When I was young, I read a copy of Poe’s Pit and the Pendulum. The thought of the blade coming closer and closer by a fraction of an inch…
When I got my first apartment, the first night I read Helter Skelter. Tip: Don’t do that. Even Agatha Christie can’t be read before I retire for the night.
FEAR OF CURRENT EVENTS: I can’t even…
DEATH OF PETS: I wrote in a previous Windtree Blog about the death of Metro and the aftermath. Since she died, I’ve lost other furry friends, and each time the hurt is raw and terrible. But in the last few years, I’ve made peace with the knowledge that my pets will (probably) leave me before I leave them. Metro’s been gone fourteen years, but I still think of her every day. Sometimes there are bad days, and the remembrance of the sharp pain comes back with all its fury. But most days it’s lovely to think of them.
At the park where I walk Sugar and Curry, I’ve named trees after my dogs. As we walk by each one, memories come back to me, I see their happy faces, their wagging tails–I feel their joy and goodness. It keeps the memory of them with me for a few moments, and whatever worries I bring into the park are alleviated a bit. I don’t want to ever forget them. A little crazy? Sure, maybe. But, to me, dogs represent many qualities. One of those is sanity–and the more sanity I can get in my life, the better! Thank-you, Metro, Tawny, Gizzy, Fuzzy, Shweetie, Rainy, Bojoe and the present crew: Curry and Sugar.
Susie Slanina lives in Vancouver, Washington. After graduating from California State University, Los Angeles, she went to school in Ireland to study the Montessori approach to educating children. She worked 24 years at CSLA and retired at age 50 to spend more time with her dogs in a cabin in Big Bear. She had been retired for eight years when a poem she wrote about a spider became the catalyst for the Metro book series. She used to enjoy traveling, but discovered that hanging out with her dogs is better than seeing the wonders of the world.