A note from Headbuzzer: We love this hilarious new mini-series going on Distraction No. 99! Author Nova is doing an interview series with some of our favorite YA authors on what scares them! We've crossposted Daniel Marks' guest post on the blog here!
Daniel Marks Screams Like a Girl
Imagine it’s summer—this shouldn’t be too hard, since we’re at the tail end of a particularly hot one (for some of you)—also, imagine you’re young, impressionable (this one might be a stretch), now, imagine you’re me—I know this is asking a lot, as most of you don’t need anti-anxiety medication or a human-size Thundershirt.
It’s 1977. You’re living in Portugal with your parents. Not the mainland, but the oh-so tropical island of Terçeira. You’re bored. You’re looking for trouble, like a miniature version of a Hell’s Angel or mafia enforcer. Behind your house there’s a stone wall; beyond that a vast plantation of banana trees. There may be a sign that reads: no trespassing (in Portuguese, of course)—I’m not saying there is, exactly, but yeah, it’s totally there.
You can’t resist, you go over the wall, like a prison escapee or a cockroach. And it’s worth every punishment you could ever receive. The banana trees are mammoth, bunches of fruit clinging precariously to their fronds. It could very well be a scene from a fantasy. There could be alien life here.
You’re a freakin’ explorer.
And then you find it, a fallen bunch, fat with fruit, and something else. Is it moving? Is that a leg? Brown and covered in short, coarse hair? No way. Couldn’t be.
You nudge the bunch with your foot. And it breaks apart.
(This would be a good place to brace yourself.)
The tarantula family—yes, you read that right—the one whose home you’ve desecrated, they’re NOT happy. They scatter, they advance, the sound is like crinkling paper, a hundred legs tamping down the dry palms carpeting the plantation floor.
Is that one on your foot? Um…yes. Definitely.
Now, if you’ve imagined hard and long enough and with a strength of conviction to join me on this trip, then, you should be screaming right about now. Running. Screaming. Windmill arms would not be out of the question. You’re certain there are at least ten clambering over your back searching for exposed flesh to sink their fangs.
You scramble back up the wall, scuttling for the safety of home. Once there, you realize that nowhere is safe. The spiders are everywhere. Under the beds. In the dark recesses.
This has been a reenactment. Just a reenactment. Could it happen to you? Certainly, it might have. And I do apologize if you’ve had to curl up in a fetal position due to phobic triggering, if you’re covered in sheets of flop sweat, shivering, demented. Please feel free to take your Zoloft.
But I think this answers Nova’s question.
What scares me most? Spiders. Obviously. If you haven’t picked that up, then, well, I’m not sure what to suggest—some sort of retention seminar?
I’m still scared of spiders. I’m traumatized when they show up in horror movies; it’s worse when they’re in my house, guaranteed. I can deal with just about anything else, and have. Snakes can coil around my ankles, rats can take a nap on my head. I don’t care.
Eight legs is four too many. It’s unnatural. Certainly there’s a size issue. I’m not going to freak out over a tiny one, but up the figure to twenty baby blood-suckers and yeah, I’m making reservations at the state mental hospital. Tarantulas were probably a pretty harsh indoctrination to a phobia, granted. And since then, I’ve studied psychology, extensively—which is probably best, since I was a psychotherapist for twelve long years. But the education had an undesirable effect. I learned about phobia treatments and in particular one called flooding.
Now, flooding doesn’t involve water—unless you’re phobic about water. Flooding means that you introduce a lot of whatever the client is scared of in an attempt to burn out the irrational fear. SPIDERS. Just knowing this technique is available, has kept me from bringing up this phobia in any professional setting.
Can you imagine?
Pardon me, I’m off to fumigate.
Distraction No. 99 is hosting a giveaway of Velveteen, so head over to their blog for a chance to snag one! In the meantime, check out Buzzgirl's review here!
Note: This post was originally published on Distraction No. 99 on October 19th, 2012