11 November 2007

Tales from the Crypt

So the last post got me to thinking about sick and twisted family traditions. Our little family did not develop this particular brand of humor by accident.

My family of origin was rife with twisted humor. My mom, seen here with me and baby sister back in days of yore, was prone to punnery and word play, while my dad leaned more toward dry, sarcastic wit and scatological humor. It was my dad and I who often teamed up for jokes and hijinks. My mom and sister were, by default, often the victims of our depravity.

My parents moved us out to the country my freshman year of high school. That's a photo of my dad from that time. The one perched on his shoulder is Clara Clucker, my sister's Plymouth Rock hen.

We lived on about 25 acres, outside city limits. And by "city", I mean fewer than 6,000 people, townies and country folks combined. Our house was set about a quarter mile off the unpaved road. Country folks don't have driveways; they have lanes. Probably 2/3 of our land was woods, which started at the bottom of the hill behind our house.

Neighbors were widely spaced. The nearest ones may have been within shouting distance, meaning they might have heard an all out, blood-curdling scream if the windows were open, if the wind favored you, and if their TV wasn't turned up too loud. There were no streetlights, so dark meant dark. Satan's asshole dark. A car crunching down the gravel road was a rare enough occurrence to bring us to the front windows.

Daddy brought home a VCR one day, probably my freshman or sophomore year. This was a big deal in the early 80s. The newest technology! He also brought home a ColecoVision video game system, on which I spent many a happy hour with Donkey Kong and Mario. Anyway, with the VCR came the concept of family movie night. My dad and I loved scary movies. Mom and Sis, not so much. In fact, not at all.

Like the night we watched the original Halloween. Remember that scene where the young couple is in bed together, and the boyfriend leaves to go get her some milk or beer or something? (my sister and I were shocked to see the nekked breasts of the girlfriend character revealed, right there in our living room! The VCR was the best invention ever.) Anyway, in the scene, the "boyfriend" comes back covered in a sheet, wearing his glasses on top of the sheet. The girlfriend thinks it's cute, but of course it turns out to be the murderer, and she meets her demise in grisly fashion. It was scary as hell.

After the movie, Mom went to brush her teeth. A terrified scream pierced our tender eardrums, and my mom came flying back down the hall from her bedroom. Daddy had pinned a sheet up on the wall, and, in a stroke of genius, pinned up a pair of those black glasses with the nose and mustache attached as well.

Then he unscrewed the light bulb in their room. Genius.

The moon was out, so there was just enough light for her to come face to face with a ghostly sheet, complete with glasses. When the light didn't work and the realization kicked in that my dad, the prime suspect, was still out in the living room, and therefore, not under the sheet ... well, that was all she wrote. Mom had a major freak out.

Mom was not amused, but my sister and I sure were. I'm pretty sure part of Sis's laughter was relief at not being the intended victim this time, but still. My dad was well pleased with himself.

At some point during those years, Salem's Lot, a Stephen King thriller involving vampires, was made into a mini-series to be shown on TV. Daddy and I couldn't wait. Mom and Sis reluctantly agreed to watch.

That's me and my sister, over there to the left, long before any depravity had started. Well, actually, maybe some depravity had taken root; this photo was taken not long after I'd decided to cut my sister's hair. My mom was not happy, as she'd already scheduled the photo session. I thought Sis looked great, and was quite pleased with myself, as you can see in the pic.

Don't we look sweet as sugar, with our little nautical theme going on there? By the time high school rolled around, a lot of the sugar had worn off. Along with the nautical themes.

Anyway, Salem's Lot was showing! A mini-series was a big deal before Tivo, Netflix and 500 cable channels. Hell, before DVDs. Everyone in town was going to watch it. The fact that there really wasn't that much to do in our town made it an even bigger deal.

Salem's Lot was seriously scary. It had these horribly heinous vampires who would show up even in my nightmares, so you can imagine my sister's. In fact, looking at the fangs and yellow eyes of this guy to the right, I'm gaining a clearer understanding of why that beastly devil-rat from the last post currently making the rounds in my house freaks me out so much. There's an uncanny resemblance.

The Salem's Lot vampire may be lodged more deeply in my subconscious than I realized.

I don't remember a whole lot about the plot in Salem's Lot, but I do remember there was this floating little boy vampire who terrified my sister. He would appear at the window of the sleeping movie-child, and scratch ... scratch ... scratch against the screen, enticing the child to invite him in. The little boy vampire scared the crap out of my sister. He pretty much scared the crap out of me as well, but my mind was already formulating a plan.

That night after everyone was asleep, I carefully removed the screen from my window and picked up a long stick I'd placed there before bedtime. The stick was long enough that I could lean out and scratch ... scratch ... scratch against the screen of my sister's window, her room being just down the hall from mine.

I guess she wasn't sleeping too well that night, because it didn't take long for the scream to come, a scream like the undead loosed from the confines of hell. Timing was critical. I waited until she ran out into the hall, an extra beat for good measure, then ran out of my room, asking, "What happened?! What's the matter?"

My sister stopped cold. If I, the chief suspect, was in the house, in the hallway ... then who was outside scratching on her window?!? Sis continued to protest when mom told her it must've been a bad dream.  No! She really did hear something outside, she did! She wasn't crazy!

The folks checked Sis's room, but thankfully did not check outside, where the incriminating stick still lay. Daddy didn't say a word. The raised eyebrows and barely visible smile said enough.

Years later, I told Sis and Mom the real story -- Daddy and I were practically howling. Mom and Sis ... not so much.


  1. Fantastic post! I love baby Cowbell! Calfbell? Anymoo, as the oldest of two girls, I too had a sick sense of humor when it came to tormenting the piddle out of my kid sister. heh heh, good thing she doesn't blog. Oh the stories she could tell about me! Which would blow my image completely. What the hell were you writing about around Halloween time missy? These stories are gold.

  2. awesome post. you were quite the little imp, eh?
    so yeah...i'm gonna need you to go ahead and permanently remove that close up the salem's lot vampire. i am re-traumatized for life now. RE.

    ps...don't really remove it but know...KNOW I am traumatized :)

  3. Hat -- I know, right? I was thinking that today, if I'd have been a little more on top of things and have gotten these up at Halloween time, it would've been perfect. Your Halloweenery (and bats) made the holiday fun (much needed here, with us being at the football game that night) and yep, these would've been perfect. Long Live Slackassery!

    Monica -- Imp. Yeah, that's me. Oh, i know, isn't he creepy?! Whats worse, the way my blog loads up, he's sitting right across from all my links to you guys ... like he knows where I am...

  4. I'm totally in love with your dad. Between the sheet and glasses trick and posing for a picture with a hen on your shoulder and raising a daughter who would one day pass the sick-and-twistedness on to her own family, what's not to love?

  5. In that pic of you (Calfbell! funny!) and your little sister, with her hacked off hair, you are showing more than a twinkle of nascent depravity in your eyes.

    As the little sis on the receiving end of MANY such terrors, all I can say is Vampires will never fail to terrify the piss out of a little sib. One night I was so terrified by the jackasses known as my brothers that I drew crosses all over the wall next to my bed. That was well received by the parents, as you can imagine. "But Mommyyyy! They made me!" The jackasses still laugh about it, and at me....

  6. Great post. I'm still chuckling. Oh and Coleco rocked.

  7. Don't take this the wrong way, but your dad was a hottie with a hellacious sense of humor. I want to be your mom.

    Well, you know what I mean.

  8. You're truly evil. We have to team up! In my house, my MOTHER loved scary movies and loved to scare the shit out of my old man.

  9. Red: Yeah, he's great, and definitely keeps us laughing. You probably wouldn't so much be laughing once he found out you were a diversity trainer - he would not be able to wait to start the debates. My dad loves a good debate, much to the chagrin of my mom.

    E: You drew crosses on the wall?! That is hilarious. Oh I bet that went over real well with the folks. And yes, the roots of depravity have taken hold in that photo.

    KA: Yeah, I still like Donkey Kong to this day. And he didnt even need guns or grenades or anything.

    Lorraine: it's a gift.

    JP: I'm sure he'd get quite a kick out of that, JP. In fact, I'm pretty sure it would cause him to sashay around the room, then break in into his Steve Martin "Wild & Crazy Guy" impression. Yeah. That pic is circa 1981 or 82.

    RG: Thank you. Your mom sounds like she rocks.

  10. I just took a another look at the pic of you and your sister - you get along now right? I'd hate to think what you'd do to her hair now! The look on your face is just so: heh,heh,heh.

  11. Bring it on, CowDaddy! After all, I can always use the grandchildren card. Set, Spike.

  12. RG -- Yes, we do, although I don't get to see her much at all, she lives in NC.

    Eric -- Now that is one event I would pay to see. And buy popcorn. (I'd root for you, too.)

  13. I was/am a big sissy lala...nothing scary for me...not in any form.

  14. Great stuff - and those photos - who would have thought that behind that seraphic smile lay the heart of a sadist. So we are talking from Father to Daughter, from Mother to Son - well we know what any daughter of Male Offspring can expect don't we?

    As basically an only child - my brother was 16 years older than me and left home when I was 4 - I had to scare myself. Which explains alot about the adult I became!

  15. Awesome post, and those pics... You have always been cute. Salem's Lot, and the Exorcist were two movies that scared the snot out of me as a child. I had years of nightmares from the exorcist, and thought I was being posessed everytime I heard a noise or felt my bed move after dark. HA! I read Salem's Lot as a 6th grader (not wise). You are quite the imp, and a girl after my own heart


  16. Rosemary So I guess me sending The Rat to you via US mail is a no-go, then?

    Willym: Aha! For the first time in my life, I am anxious for grandchildren. And I got this hilarious image of a wee Willym scaring himself as a child - hahaha!

    Tater: Thanks! Oh, you remind me, I was an early reader, and forbidden from reading books that were deemed too "grown up" for me. When I was maybe 9 or 10, I secretly read my mom's copies of "The Amityville Horror" and "Audrey Rose". Scared the shit out of me! I still vividly remember that pig Jody's red eyes peering in the window, and lots of other scenes from those books. Terrifying! You'd think that would've taught me to listen to my mother, but ... sadly, no.

    Mouse Oh, that makes my heart sing, imagining a new generation being freaked out of their minds! Builds character.

  17. Apple- tree, there you have it.. My Daddy and I spent many a fine time tormenting the rest of the family as well.

    And y'all we soooo cute!!!


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