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.”