I’m not the kind of person that gets legitimately frightened by normal stuff. Like, I don’t love spiders, but I can pick them up or shoo them away without losing my mind. You know? Or heights, or snakes or what have you. It’s not like they’re my favorite things, but I can deal with them if I have to.
Plus, it’s way more fun to give dark answers when people ask you what your deepest fear is. Try it sometime. Especially during like a dumb icebreaker game or something. Just look ’em straight in the face and say “the emptiness in my soul” and then count the number of seconds it takes them to recover.
However, there is one common subject of fear that I can’t deal with. I do not do clowns. NO. They freak me out. And I know it’s cliché to be afraid of clowns but my fear gives zero craps. Every joker in a red nose can get the heck away from me.
I think this is partially because when I was a little kid the clown in our yearly July 4th parade always gave me a dumb string instead of a cool balloon. I may have also caught a glimpse of Stephen King’s IT or something. Heck, somebody probably told me the plotline to that movie and that would’ve been enough to send me into hysterics for days.
Anyway, the point is, I don’t like clowns. And I know there’s like a clown union and everything and they’re pissed at the people who portray clowns as horror movie villains, but it’s too late. The damage is done. Sorry, clown union.
But for a lot of years I always felt a little silly about my fear. After all, it’s not like I’d ever really been personally victimized by a clown (unless you count the parade of course).
But then, one day, it turns out I WAS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING, and all my fears are totally justified. This is what happened.
My senior year of college my undergraduate research got accepted for presentation at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR), which felt like a really big deal until I got to the conference and realized literally a million and half people were there presenting and also all some kids did was write a paper and that was it. (P.S. Run-on sentences for the win.) Anyway, it was an excuse for like 20 of us to bus out to a different state for several days and feel like we were smarter than we actually were.
There was also a cosplay event of some kind being held at our hotel, and so people in costumes were coming and going and some of us were curious. I mean, I’m not a cosplayer but I like costumes and sci-fi characters and I thought it would be cool to check out the event from a distance before we left the hotel to go home. (SIDE NOTE: The rest of this story is not a slam to cosplayers. Just so we’re clear.)
Anyway, this turned out to be a terrible idea. Several of us were exploring the table displays and talking to people dressed up like elves and video game characters when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, there appeared a clown.
And not just any clown. This guy had done his makeup to look horrifying. I’m talking exposed brains, fake dried blood running down his face, blacked out teeth, the works. Which, you know, if that’s your deal, then that’s whatever. But then the dude had to go and make it our problem. Apparently this guy was in it for the screech bait.
One of my friends, (unfortunately), made eye contact with Circus Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, and that was enough for him. He started coming towards us and my friends came UNGLUED. Which was exactly the wrong thing to do. He started laughing this terrible, freaky laugh (obviously enjoying her terror), and wouldn’t go away. He got close enough that I thought he actually might reach out and grab her.
There have only been a few instances in my life where I’ve thought I might have to fight someone. This was one of them.
We started walking away, but couldn’t control our fear enough to shed Freddy Kreuger Clown Edition. It was like some weird sci-fi horror film where the villain gains strength from the fear of others. (Okay, or he was just an absolute creep.) He kept following us to the edge of the gallery, still making that weird laughing sound.
Fortunately, one of the guys in our group had come looking for us, and as soon as there was another dude on the scene, Nightmare on Elm Street was out of there.
We were all definitely traumatized. I managed to not freak out in the moment, but come on – it’s not every day you get terrorized by a demon clown in very close proximity.
Which just goes to show. I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG. And now I have a very legitimate reason to fear clowns.