Semi-stupid Tuesday questions, Vincent Price edition

This week’s question was inspired by a recent post over at brother-blog Mindless Diversions.  Once an indefatigable fan of the horror movie genre, Jaybird describes being put off them entirely by two movies he found deeply unsettling — “Event Horizon” and “The Ring.”

As I said in the comments to that post (with apologies for repeating myself), I hate horror movies.  I find them incredibly unpleasant at the gut level.  I have rules for watching them, which are inviolable.  (Those curious few of you can find them listed in the other comment thread.)  I read Jaybird’s post with wry amusement, because one of the few horror movies I’ve ever been talked into seeing in the theater was “Event Horizon,” and it’s hilarious in retrospect that I found myself in the audience of a film that was apparently unenjoyably scary for a dedicated fan of the genre.  I spent most of the movie whimpering in the fetal position, burrowed into the seat.  (I am not kidding about that.)

I also have a very low threshold for finding movies too scary.  My brother in all innocence recommended Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine” to me, and was nonplussed to learn that I had found the latter portion too suspenseful to enjoy.  (It probably didn’t help that it was set in a spaceship.  See above.)  Conversely, he expressed his rank contempt for “The Blair Witch Project” by telling me “even you could sit through it.”  (I still haven’t risked it.)

Perhaps you will be unsurprised to learn that I was a somewhat high-strung child.  I refused to set foot into the local video store (remember video stores?) because there was a poster of Freddy Krueger on the wall, the mere sight of which sent me into paroxysms of terror.  My earliest memory of such a reaction was to an unavoidable cultural phenomenon — Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.  I was in elementary school when it came out, and the few brief clips I saw were sufficient to instill a Pavlovian aversion to all things Michael Jackson.  (I once ran into the other room when I heard the opening bell tolls of the “Beat It” video, because I wasn’t taking any chances.)

Anyhow, sometime in my mid-20s I was hanging out with a guy I was dating, and he happened to have some kind of video collection that included “Thriller.”  I told him how much it had freaked me out as a kid, and that I’d never actually seen the whole thing.  And we decided to watch it, not without a wee bit of trepidation on my part.  And of course I thought it was hysterical.  I loved every minute of it, because there may be nothing more funny than dancing zombies.  And with that, a vestige of my hypersensitive childhood was subsumed into a (marginally) more well-adjusted adulthood.  As picayune as this will no doubt seem to those of you who weren’t completely unglued by “Thriller” (ie. the overwhelming majority of human beings alive at the time), for me it was actually Psychologically Important.

So, after all that, here’s this week’s question — have you ever had a moment when you realized you’d Grown Up in some discrete way?  When you passed some important barrier into adulthood?  When did you do away with some childish thing?  For the purposes of this week’s question, I’m referring to happy transitions, not things like “my childhood died with my first dog.”

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. It’s not a pleasant story, but here goes:
    I grew up in the shadow of my older brother. This guy was breaking records for weightlifting that had stood for 50 years while he was still in 9th grade. His nickname was Tree.
    I had never known the guy to lose a fight. In fact, he broke a guy’s leg in a bar one time because he knocked him out with the first punch. That made him mad, so he put the guy’s leg up in a chair and stomped down on it. But he already had a reputation before that.
    The day my grampa died, we got into a fight. He was drunk and belligerent and hit me. I left the apartment, and I came back with one of the old glass 32-oz. Coke bottles.
    I hit him in the head with it twice before the neck (on the bottle) broke. It laid him open pretty good.
    The next morning, I woke early and scrubbed down the walls smeared with blood; tears in my eyes, because this was my brother’s blood, and I had bled him.
    A few days later, he told me that if he was ever in a fight, he would want me beside him to back him up.
    I knew I had stepped up into the big leagues.

    I’m glad he said that, because I still feel really bad about that.
    Today, March 27th, is Tree’s birthday, though he’s been dead for 7 years.

  2. I keep going through my head and not finding anything. Maybe I’ll ask Maribou if I have one.

    • I think you and I probably indulge in standing with one foot on either side of that barrier.

  3. When I was wrapping up my sophomore year in college my dad and I got into a row about my declared major. I wanted to major in music or poll-sci, and my dad was very insistent that I get a business degree. He finally drew a line in the sand and said that I could either major in business, or I could pay for college myself. I decided to pay my own way. I worked three jobs that summer, and started working and going to school part time, and ended up taking another 3 1/2 years instead of the 2 I had left on a normal track.

    The idea, I think, was that by paying I would somehow be sticking it to him. My dad, however, was pretty impressed, and treated me more like a man after that. What I did out of spite earned his respect, I think, and led to the chain of events that led me to being here and now – so I would not change a thing.

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