Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Monsters that have lived in my home

A recurring topic of this blog -- and a longtime focus of my research -- has been the history of monsters, those repulsively attractive creatures that seem to dwell in the space between the human and the animal, alien, or other. Today I will share a small collection of these beings who dwell, quite literally, close to home ... specifically within the Cohen domicile. Each has been catalogued and described by Kid #1 over the past nine years of his life here.

(1) The Green Eyes
A pair of disembodied orbs that used to float mysteriously above the grass just outside the nursery window. Unblinking, nocturnal, and luminescent. Suspected to be the reflection of an elliptical nightlight on the double paned glass of the window. This explanation was roundly rejected by Kid #1, who insisted that any moron could tell they were floating eyeballs. First sighted seven years ago, and not seen since Kid #1 moved to another room and the nightlight was replaced.

(2) The Scratchy Monster
The first monster to attempt to penetrate Kid #1's new bedroom. Never visible, but supposed to be large, bat-like, and almost flat. Could be heard at dusk as it attempted to scale the bricks of the house, moving slowly towards Kid #1's bedroom window on the second floor. Suspected to be the sound of summer crickets, but this explanation was immediately dismissed as wrongheaded: crickets do not make the steel-like scraping sound of the Scratchy Monster's sharp claws on brick.

(3) Mr. Shadow
The most unsettling of the supernatural denizens of the Cohen household. Long haunted the nursery, where he was spotted as a pair of flickering eyes that could be barely glimpsed peering out from behind the door or bookcase. Dwelled only where the nighttime gloom was thickest. For years Mr. Shadow did not speak to Kid #1, but glared in unnerving silence. When he finally did utter some words, he confided to my son that he had once been a little boy named Kidkid who had lived in the house many, many years ago. Because he was very evil (he often did not listen to his parents and teachers) he was doomed at his early death to remain in the house forever. Thus he lurked in dim places, watching this new boy to see if he would behave well. Mr. Shadow began as a frightening presence, capable of making Kid #1 run downstairs to his parents in tears, but once he confided his story he became an object of pity -- and, in a strange way, a companion. He has with time slowly faded from Kid #1's life. Now that Kid #2 has just turned two (the age at which Mr. Shadow began staring at Kid #1), it will be interesting to see if he manifests again.

(4) The Sheriff
The most recent ghoul to enter our home, making his presence known last night. Formed from an algae-like, bubbling mass that vaguely resembles a tall man in a western hat, the Sheriff enters homes via the cracks under doors or through slightly open windows. He then slides into beds and begins devouring the flesh of anyone trying to sleep there.

It is a wonder that anyone chez Cohen is able to close their eyes at night.


Anonymous said...

Nice, may I remind you that Kid #2 finds many things "scary."

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Thank you, O Most Revered Spouse. Kid #2 does indeed declare that many things -- helicopters, men in suits, the Easter Bunny -- are "scary." To get her point across, she widens her eyes and pretends to bite her nails while making the declaration.

For this and for many other reasons we call her the Tiny Drama Queen.

Dr. Virago said...

Wow, Kid #1 had a highly developed SuperEgo at age 2! After all, isn't that what Mr. Shadow turned out to be? Impressive! And kind of scary in a preternaturally smart way. Man, kids are kind of uncanny, aren't they?

As for Kid #2, she sounds really smart, too. Helicopters and men in suits *are* scary, especially these days. Or perhaps she'll grow up to be a conspiracy theorist -- or a fan of Donnie Darko. ;)

Karl Steel said...

Great post!

My childhood fears were all centered around--yes DV--the Uncanny: sleepwalkers and apparitions of parents I knew to be sleeping down the hall mainly.

The 'monster' in my closet, however, didn't scare me. It was Menuhin (named after the violinist, natch), and he wore a wide-brimmed hat and a black cloak. I don't think we talked much, but I knew where he lived, and I knew he bore me no ill will.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Dr. V: let's not forget that here in DC helicopters and men in suits go together. Our house is frequently buzzed by the president as he heads out in his Chopper of Doom (as we like to call it). So I reassure Kid #2 that it is, indeed, "scary." As to the Easter Bunny -- well, any creature that dies and comes back to life three days later is frightening in my book.

Karl: why am I not in the least bit surprised that your childhood closet was haunted by a violinist??

Jeffrey Cohen said...

I have been remidned by Kid #1 to add another monster to the list.

(5) Mysterious Green Hand
A disembodied hand with long red nails and verdant flesh that creeps around the house at night. Apparently based upon an episode of the suppsoedly innocuous PBS show Arthur, in which the main character loses a library book called The Mystery of the Green Hand and is plagued by nightmares in which the member crawls after him.

For years the words "mysterious" "green" and "hand" -- singularly or in any combination -- could not be uttered in our household after nightfall for fear of catching the monster's attention.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to YOUR kid #1, MY kid #1 is deathly afraid of the "black shadow", a derivation of monster #3, that your kid #1 somehow deposited in my basement about a year and a half ago.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Waiting for a suitable nickname: is it my fault that your spawn is impressionable? Toughen that Kid #1 up, that's what I say!