Upon further reflection, watching "Hannibal" by myself, in the dark and without the impending safety blankie of my boyfriend coming home later was a very very bad idea. It's how I ended up awake half the night, listening for the serial killer so obviously hiding in my closet to come machete me into itty-bitty pieces.
I have always been terrified of scary things, as normal people should be, and incongruously always had a moth-like fascination with testing my resolve despite knowing how weak it is. I can blame all this on my childhood.
When Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video was in heavy rotation my older cousin LaDonna -- the sadist left in charge of me most days -- would turn the volume up to full blast, chase me around the house wearing a white sheet and then lock me in a dark closet until I howled. I was three. And 30 years later I still haven't let this woman off the hook.
Probably egged on by LaDonna's example, the rest of my cousins (the Andrews is a big clan) would regularly "force" me to watch "Cujo" with them just to see how long it'd take me to run screaming from the den. To this day, St. Bernard's freak me out. Hello! They could get rabies and kill you! And yet every time my older cousins asked me to join in on the canine horror show I always said "yes." Eventually Frances put a stop to it. Something about me never wanting to sleep in my own bed.
So it's no wonder that scary movies, anything written by Stephen King, and costumes on Halloween make my tummy hurt. Like seriously. Being afraid and/or seeing gross stuff happen makes me physically ill. I thought I was over it. That'd I'd outgrown it by sheer force of years. But no.
This weekend, my man thang was out of town, leaving me alone in the condo with only Miles to protect me. Stupidly and for no other reason than I was bored, I dared myself to watch "Hannibal," that new NBC show about murder and mind games starring Morpheus.
First off, let me say that I can't believe they can legally show half this stuff on network TV. People getting their eyes gouged out, bodies shish-kabobed through with surgical equipment, severed arms, skins scraped off like orange peels! But then Hugh Dancy. "Hannibal" is an hour-long roller coaster of emotion. And I HATE roller coasters -- they also make my tummy hurt.
It took me a full hour into a three-hour horror marathon to muster the courage to leap off the safety zone of the couch to flip on the lights. After that I made Miles lay on my feet lest some monster try to grab them and drag me off to Murderland. Also, I opened the windows just in case a passerby should hear my screaming and alert the authorities. Then I thought better of it and immediately slammed them shut because, duh, everyone knows that's how vampires can get in.
By now it's pretty obvious I should have just turned the TV off. But I didn't. What if I got sucked in by the poltergeist?
When I finally got up the nerve to go to sleep, I first checked all the closets, behind the shower curtain in the master bathroom and under the bed. I felt like an idiot, sure, but a smart idiot.
Before I closed my eyes I sent my boyfriend a text, possibly my last, explaining that I'd been watching Hannibal alone (something he'd expressly warned me not to do) and that I loved him dearly. Then I lay down like a corpse and waited.
The next morning I was thankfully alive, having survived the night sans nightmares. Later when asked why in god's name I would subject myself to a show I know makes me nutty, I shrugged, "But it's so good." And it is! Just not good for me.
I don't think I'll ever be the type to watch blood and guts and go, "Can you please pass the peas." Instead I'd go screaming from the room about how the demon peas are trying to kill us all! And I'm okay with that now, I really am. At first I thought it was a sign of maturity, being able to handle the scary stuff. Like little three-year-old me trying to hang with the big kids in the den as they watched Cujo and zombie MJ do some damage. But that can't be right. I don't have to prove my mettle to anyone but myself--and maybe Miles. And now we both know my limits.