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My Secret Shame: Street of Terror

You know what kids are, right? Of course you do: they're those strange, smaller and younger people who we all see all the time. Not only that, but all of us were kids at one point, too. Kids are a strange lot. Not only are they smaller and younger, but they have less life experience, especially if they're very young.

As such, kids oftentimes have irrational, some might say superstitious fears. Some of the more common ones might include:

  • Abandonment:
    One of the most common childhood fears is the fear of something bad happening either directly to the parents/caregivers, or indirectly happening to the bond between the parents/caregivers and the kid. This fear actually has some biological/evolutionary basis: since a kid is usually not smart enough to take care of itself, if something were to happen to the parents/caregivers then something bad is also likely to occur to the kid.
  • The Dark:
    Adults know that "darkness" really only occurs because there just happens to be a fewer number of visible-light photons entering our eyes. Usually this is because there are few objects in a given area that are either emitting or reflecting photons. Darkness can in no way hurt you, so there's no reason to be afraid of it. And yet millions of kids are so afraid of the dark that they have to have a "night light" to emit extra photons just so that they can be calm enough to sleep.
  • Monsters:
    Kids tend to have wild imaginations, and aren't intelligent enough to know what's real and what isn't. While we all could (and sometimes do) imagine, for instance, that there is a hentai-style tentacle monster outside our window at night, we know it isn't really there. If a kid, On the other hand, can see something with their "mind's eyes" then they often believe that they'll also be able to see it with their "real eyes," and therefore they think it must really exist. It doesn't.
  • The Bogeyman:
    The "King of Monsters" in kids' minds, the "Bogeyman" (pronounced and sometimes spelled "Boogeyman" or "Boogie Man") is the generic name given to the monster that lives in a kid's closet. Existing in a parallel dimension full of doors that each correspond to a kid's real-world closet door, the Bogeyman is consistently defeated by The Real Ghostbusters in his every appearance and is therefore no real threat at all, except in a kid's ignorant mind.
  • Mr. Peanut:
    The unfortunately-shaped and monocled mascot of Planters Peanuts is, of course, the most common of all childhood fears, terrorizing millions of innocent children with its top hat and cane.

There are some things, however, that are beyond any normal childhood fear. Sometimes a certain combination of sights and sounds can combine to create a "perfect storm" of fear, a force so powerful that any rational thoughts are excised from a kid's mind and it becomes an animalistic, uncontrollable incarnation of terror itself.

In short, it causes the kid to run screaming from the room.

The reasons for this are unknown. Perhaps in the architecture of the brain there are certain areas that accidentally develop too close to the "fight or flight" response inherited from our evolutionary ancestors. This Perfect Storm of fear can be caused by almost anything. Even seemingly innocuous and innocent situations can happen in such a way that a certain visual cue combines with a certain audio cue to trigger the deep-seated subconscious of a kid.

I am ashamed to admit that I had just such a fear when I was a kid. A simple visual cue accompanied by a specific audio cue, and the Perfect Storm would already manifest less than a second into the experience. I would run screaming from the room, an unthinking, terrified animal. Minutes/hours later when my senses finally returned, I would have only vague recollections of a strangely-shaped hill and a melancholy note.

"Sure," you may be thinking, "some element of the situation struck a nerve, and that's why Christopher Grant Harris was afraid. Perhaps there was something scary about the situation." But you'd be wrong. I wish I could say that you were right, but the bald truth is that I never actually lasted long enough to even know what the situation was actually about or even what actually happened after the initial formation of the Perfect Storm.

So strong was this fear that I would thenceforth only be able to half-watch certain experiences in my life. Whenever a situation arose wherein there was the possibility of me seeing/hearing the Perfect Storm trigger, I would tense up and turn half away, ready to flee the room should a certain note sound. I hoped that if I prepared myself this way that I would be able to rationally remove myself from the situation and therefore prevent the Perfect Storm from ever occurring. I was, of course, wrong. Since the Perfect Storm formed at the very instant that the initial visual image combined with the initial audio cue, there was no way to receive advance warning.

But I know what you blood-sucking vultures are thinking: "Enough stalling, already! Show us this beast of pure, unadulterated terror! Let us see the forming of this Perfect Storm of Fear! Christopher Grant Harris, forego your comfort zone and expose yourself once again to the mind-rending madness! Cast your sanity to the uncaring winds and for our petty pleasure gaze, as you did so terribly as a child, into the swirling face of pure, distilled horror so that we might laugh at your discomfort and lack of childly reason!"

Fine! Heartless braggarts! At great risk to my sanity I have combed the darkest repository of nightmares known to man and there, at the heart of YouTube, I discovered the beast, which I now share with you all. Be warned! I take no responsibility for the horrible actions you might perform while mindless with rage and terror after witnessing the horror of traveling down this Street of Terror to my secret shame:

And there you have it. See what you have wrought with your cursed curiosity! I hope only that the exposure of yourself to such abject fear does not create an unpleasant association with this usually very pleasant website.

Yes, you have now witnessed my secret shame: As a child I was deathly afraid of an animated segment of Sesame Street, or as I call it, The Street of Terror. I never made it more than a second into that animated short before escaping the room. Honestly, watching that footage as an adult still wiggs me out a little bit. There, are you happy now?

I should point out here that in no way was I afraid of the letter "N" in any other context, and especially not the lowercase n. One exists in my very own name: Christopher Grant Harris. I therefore have no explanation whatsoever as to why this particular animated segment caused me such fear.

But don't even get me started on the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland...

photo of "Monsters" by TCM Hitchhiker
photo of Scared Kid by uglyagnes

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