Things which are scary

When I was about Chickie’s age, I was busy chewing my way through everything Stephen King ever wrote. The freakier and scarier, the better. This came up when I tried to convince Otto to watch Bates Motel with me the other night; he’s not so much a fan of a series that is fairly unapologetic about the amount of blood and gore, whereas I love it. I found myself explaining that—for me—there is catharsis in stories filled with terror. I get to experience all the fear/loathing/panic my body can handle WITHOUT having to relate it to my own particular life, and afterward, somehow my brain goes, “Well, then. We’re fine. Thank goodness none of that stuff was happening to US!” And I walk away happier.

Apparently that’s odd…? Like, most people read/see scary stuff and it just freaks them out? I’m now wondering if I am the only person who enjoys freaking myself out this way and feels fine, after. (Example: I watch Bates Motel, I can happily move on with my life when it’s over. But I have a real-life encounter like the last one I told you about and I’m disturbed and squicked out for days.

This tells me that fear is relative (duh). So here are a few other recent frightening things:

Spoons. Part of our family lexicon is the phrase “SPOONS ARE SCARY!” as a catch-all to mean anything from “I am being ridiculous and I know it” to “help me, please.” I keep meaning to add getting a video of this to my to-do list, except I don’t have a to-do list. ANYWAY, once upon a time one of us was eating something in a bowl, with a spoon (oh, who am I kidding—I’m sure it was ice cream), and when the eating was finished, the bowl was put down on the floor for Licorice to lick. The spoon was still in the bowl, and Licorice was fine until she bumped the spoon, and then the spoon clattered a little and Licorice turned into the world’s biggest crybaby. She danced around the bowl, head cocked, darting forward and back, utterly confused as to how proceed.

Because on the one hand: ICE CREAM. But on the other: SCARY SPOON. You understand her predicament.

Now if we want to torment the dog, we put down a bowl for her to lick with the spoon still in it. She will wait (dancing, maybe whining a little) until someone removes the offending utensil and she can lick in peace.

Should anyone ever wish to rob our house without having their ankles toothlessly gnawed on, they should simply put down a bowl with a spoon in it on their way in. Spoons, man. SPOONS ARE SCARY.

Geese. Am I the only person who loves nature and all of God’s creatures and all that jazz, but finds geese loathsome? I am ashamed. I’m trying to love them. But it’s HARD. They’re mean, and they poop everywhere, and not like bird poop, either. Goose poop is like dog poop. I don’t understand.

So we have this pair of geese that come back to the pond every year, and oooh, ahhhh, the wonder of nature! They come back from… wherever they were… (I mean, this is the south, right, so did they go FURTHER south? do they live at a different pond during the winter?) and they make a nest and lay eggs and have babies and TRY TO EAT MY CHILDREN. It’s finally nice enough out to go walk down to the pond and enjoy nature and HOLY CRAP, RUN, THE GEEEEEEEESE!

Recently I gave Monkey and Lemur some stale bread and sent them down there to try to convince the geese that they were friends. The geese—and really, who is surprised?—gobbled up the bread and then tried to attack them. The only redeeming value in this exercise was the boys’ reenactment of angry, threatening geese in the kitchen when they returned.

There should be a movie called Geese. It would be like The Birds except instead of there being tons of them, there can be just two geese who are nesting. That’s scary enough.

Science! And finally, science is scary, man. SCIENCE IS TRYING TO BURN MY HOUSE DOWN.

Have I ever mentioned that Chickie is kind of the ultimate science nerd? Maybe once or twice…?

So Chickie missed Science Fair this year while she was living with her dad, but her current science teacher has the kids doing experiments as their Big Project, anyway, and then those projects can be held and entered next year. I thought this would be a big relief for Chickie, having the opportunity to work on her project while she’s not as busy (hell hath no fury like a kid trying to juggle a complicated lab-based experiment and marching band…), but no, the whole thing basically infuriated her, because it is Wrong and Bad and she Doesn’t Want To. She wants to do a continuation of her last project for next year, and she doesn’t want to do it NOW, so she will do something Different Which Is Dumb.

[Insert a week of circular “You have to do a REAL project” “No I DON’T” conversations here. Fun!]

Finally her experiment was determined and she was sure it was going to be much less complicated than what she did last time, except, of course, it has kind of expanded to fill the space and I’m not convinced it’s any less complicated than what she did last time, except for the part where she’s not actually housing algae microcosms in jars in my bathtub.

The first day her experiment was running, part of it involved a crock pot set to high with a bunch of index cards propped up inside of it. Only, ANOTHER set of index cards is under a “light” test condition, so these cards needed to be kept hot, but dark. So we put a dish towel over the top of the crock pot.

HEY GUESS WHAT! You’re not supposed to do that. A few hours later we discovered that the cards were still intact, but the plastic handle on the crock pot lid had melted and malformed pretty badly. Also? It didn’t smell so good. Whoops!

Well, that was remedied, and thankfully I am the Crock Pot Hoarder and had set her up with one of the Lesser Crocks so I wasn’t upset about the handle. But then last night that set of cards was swapped out for a different set, and the new cards had been painted with jojoba oil. No problem.

EXCEPT that Otto woke up at about 2:30 last night completely convinced that we were dying from inhaling toxic fumes. From jojoba oil. In the crock pot, which happened to be in our room.

You know I love Otto with every fiber of my being, but 1) his track record when it comes to things he believes in the middle of the night is poor, and 2) I smelled NOTHING. Like, he was pacing, fretting, and I smelled none of these toxic fumes he was ranting about.

But clearly SCIENCE WAS GOING TO KILL US. Otto eventually left the room with the crock pot and I went back to sleep. This morning I discovered that he relocated it to our fireplace, ran an appropriate extension cord for it, and then opened the flue so that the TOXIC FUMES OF AN ALL-NATURAL MOISTURIZING OIL won’t kill us all. My hero (?)!

Corn. And finally, I offer this tidbit, because it still makes me laugh:

A few days ago I made a sweet potato/black bean/corn taco mixture for dinner one night. One of my children—I AM NOT NAMING NAMES—took one look at it and said, dead serious, “I can’t eat that, it’s got corn in it. I can’t digest corn.” When I gently suggested this was not actually a problem, said child continued, “I’m not kidding, I don’t digest it. It comes out whole.”


Forget Monsanto and all of that. Corn is scary because my kid—only my kid, not like the rest of us—can’t digest it. THE HORROR. It’s worse than spoons and geese and toxic jojoba oil COMBINED!


  1. Tink

    Actually, if you did an informal survey (!) I think you would find that there are plenty of that particular kind of “special snowflake” around. It has a lot in common with ghost pills. (Google will explain the concept.) ;-)

    • Mir

      That was sort of my point. ;)

  2. Lisa

    OK, about geese.
    Yesterday, I was rollerblading on the path by the river where I live. I scared the goose, which promptly flew, smack-dab, into a jogger. I swear, I laughed for about a mile!

    • Midj

      And I just laughed too!

  3. karen

    Spoons, huh? that’s a totally new dog phobia to me! … I’ll have to try it on our more unmanageable mutts :-)

  4. Crazyjane

    I recently had that exact corn conversation with one of my kids!

  5. not supergirl

    I am also terrified of geese. Not stop-in-my-tracks terrified, but avoid-when-possible-and-it’s-nearly-always-possible terrified. I have very few memories of interacting with geese (note the policy of avoidance mentioned earlier), but I know of an event that could be the source of my terror.

    My mother reminded me a few years ago that my grandparents had geese that came to their farm pond when I was a kid. They didn’t ask for the geese, but the geese came anyway, and they pooped all over and chased my sister and me around the yard. It’s that much harder to run from geese when you’re dodging their poop, yo. So, my grandparents tired of the geese. I don’t know if this was exactly legal or anything, but my grandpa decided geese would be good eating and also, they were in the way, so he butchered them. I don’t remember this, but my mom tells me that my grandpa, whom I loved dearly, chased my sister and me around the goose poop filled yard with the severed goose heads. Apparently, we cried and carried on like little babies, being quite young, and my grandpa was AMUSED! He laughed and continued chasing us with the cut-off parts of the geese. I guess it was funny because we were scared by something that was dead and couldn’t hurt us anymore? Or because my mom was futilely yelling at him to stop, and that’s always amusing? Or because it was ironic that our doting, beloved grandfather was really being a huge fucking asshole? Or it was funny to see us trying to avoid the remaining goose shit? Or maybe some other reason I’m not really understanding… because I don’t understand why he did that. Anyway, I don’t remember that happening, but I think it might be part of why I’m not a fan of geese. Still loved that old man, though.

    Corn, spoons and science are my friends, though. I like them fine.

    • Julie

      That is totally something my grandparents would have found hilarious! I never understood why terrorizing your beloved grandchildren was so flippin’ funny to them!!! And I adored both of them beyond words…

    • Therese

      Are we still in therapy for this incident?

  6. Holly

    You haven’t truly lived until you’ve had a pack of geese try to attack you.

  7. Tenessa

    10th circle of hell is populated by geese.

  8. Otto

    So, from the Material Safety Data Sheet on Jojoba Oil:

    Potential Acute Health Effects:
    Hazardous in case of ingestion, of inhalation. Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant, permeator), of eye contact (irritant).

    If inhaled, remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If breathing is difficult, give oxygen. Get medical attention.

    Fire Hazards in Presence of Various Substances:
    Slightly flammable to flammable in presence of heat. Non-flammable in presence of shocks.

    Keep away from heat. Keep away from sources of ignition. Empty containers pose a fire risk, evaporate the residue under a fume hood. Ground all equipment containing material. Do not breathe gas/fumes/ vapor/spray. Wear suitable protective clothing. In case of insufficient ventilation, wear suitable respiratory equipment. If you feel unwell, seek medical attention and show the label when possible.

    Engineering Controls:
    Provide exhaust ventilation or other engineering controls to keep the airborne concentrations of vapors below their respective threshold limit value. Ensure that eyewash stations and safety showers are proximal to the work-station location.

    So, that stuff could have KILLED or at least Seriously Maimed us last night.

    I think someone needs to do a little more research before she tries to kill the two of us in our sleep …

    former collector of MSDS forms

    • Mir

      Oooooh, baby. Other couples have foreplay, and we have… this.


      • Otto

        Transcript of current IM:

        I just replied to your comment. ;)
        Calling me out for trying to save our lives?
        I love you!
        Apparently not as much as I love you …
        not true
        I just don’t have as good of a nose. Or love of info sheets. It’s okay.

        • Becky

          See, I wouldn’t want to steal Otto because you two are more awesome as a set. THIS BANTER = priceless

          • Liza

            Exactly. If this is not what love looks like, I must be unclear on the concept.

            Also, my wife would never in a million years permit paper to be left in contact with a plugged-in crock pot, or any other source of heat. Much less paper with jojoba oil.

    • Kira

      I dunno. Seems like she did her research just fine…

      • CuriousCat

        that’s what I was thinking! “by mistake” indeed.

  9. CIndy

    LOL! I am so thankful for my math nerd who isn’t interested in experiments that fill the house with “toxic” fumes. Still, to aid in Otto’s defense, I once became completely convinced that I had a gas leak. I mean, the gas fumes! They were intense! My mom came over after a slightly frantic phone call just to inform me that would be PAINT I was smelling. I had treated my basement floor and while it smelled like normal paint to her, I was ready to evacuate.

    Interesting note: I get migraines (not horrible ones but still nothing remotely fun) and with certain types, you can have smell hallucinations. Since my migraine triggers tend to be chemical type things (paint, cleaners), I think it is the cause. It can also be the precursor to a migraine…when I smell something weird or out of place that no one else does, it is almost always followed by a headache within a few hours.

    Also? I hate geese as well…..and their everlasting poop.

    • A Different Kind of Zoe

      You just gave me vindication for my smell sensitivities! I had not connected that to migraines, although certain smells cause them. Never thought of the smell as a precursor rather than just a cause. Thanks!

  10. Paige

    I think you are better off with a dog who is afraid of spoons. Ours tries to eat the spoons, even metal ones. This is problematic because first I have to wrestle a spoon away from a 45 pound dog and then I have to throw it away because he left teeth marks all over it. Besides: dog chewed on it. Who wants that in their mouth again?

    Also, bread is really bad for geese, especially the young ones. But I don’t have to deal with them, so it’s easy for me to care, right? I suspect my attitude would be different if they were in my yard or chasing my kids.

  11. Kira

    That…corn issue? Is not a digestion problem. It’s a chewing problem. I’M JUST SAYING.

    • Brenda

      Lol. Right on.

    • Heidi

      Exactly! Special Snowflake apparently inhales his/her food.

  12. Lisa

    Want extra fun? Put a spoon in a METAL bowl down for a dog with metal dog tags. The spoon is scary. Remove the spoon. Then the TAGS his the metal bowl. Even MORE scary. No matter how delicious the food remnants in the metal bowl (where DH makes all his awesome concoctions) our scaredy dog can’t imbibe.

  13. Brenda

    I’m now picturing trying to do something truly scary with a spoon, but it’s not working. My ideas just read like a really cheesy not-at-all scary B horror movie. Also, you and Otto were clearly made for each other. :)

  14. suburbancorrespondent

    I was going to say that I agree with Otto, but I see that he is defending himself perfectly well up there. And my friend’s children really did burn down her house with a science experiment. Safety note: when allowing your children to set fire to a pile of leaves with a magnifying glass outside in the sunny yard, make sure said pile is WELL AWAY from the house.

  15. A Different Kind of Zoe

    I have a cat you would swear had been smacked in the head with a spoon at some point. He has not, and since he’s been here since he was 8 weeks old, I would know. If I so much as show him a spoon, he bolts from the room as if it were a barking dog. Another freaks out at the sound of ice in a glass. Traumas, man. You never know where they lurk.

  16. Tenessa

    Just a little question. Why wasn’t Chickie setting up toxic experiments in her room?

    • Mir

      The dog sleeps in her room and she didn’t have anywhere good to put the crock pot (either on a raised surface or somewhere I didn’t have to worry about the dog getting into it). But thank goodness now that we know about how we all almost died, I guess. ;)

  17. Kati

    Geese are VERY aggressive and territorial, which is why they’ve been used as guard animals for thousands of years. Supposedly they warned ancient Romanswhen Gaul tried to invade. (Thanks four years of high school Latin!)

    And I must also explain my love of all things gruesome to my family. I try to explain that I love reading or watching the things that truly scary because I have control – I can stop the bad whenever I want, and can rewrite the ending in my head if it’s not satisfying enough. Unlike all the crappy stuff life decides to throw at me. Although I will do my best to erase my kindle library before I die because it’s, uh, well, an intense collection of books.

  18. Stephanie Stenner

    Reading in my office at work and laughed out loud at the corn statement. (They don’t know me well since I’ve only been here a few weeks. I hope no one heard me and thinks I’m a nutcase, because I’m not ready for them to know that yet)😉

  19. ste

    Both birds and taxidermy can have me hiding in a corner in the fetal position screaming until someone sends them away.

    When I was younger I babysat a lot. At this one house I practically lived at there was a magnet I figured should be funny but I never quite got it. Until I read this post. Thank you, Mir, I now fully understand “I eat like a bird and shit like a goose.”

  20. Jessica

    Geese? Where?! *runs away*

    Seriously, they attack and hiss and honk and bite. What is there to like about them? Some ducks do the same thing (minus the hissing). Ick.

    I’ve just learned to hiss back and run at them. They’re kind of like our seagulls up here. (I’ve seen a seagull snatch a sandwich right out of a preschooler’s hand before.) Run at them and make loud noises and hopefully they’ll fly away. *shudders*

  21. Anna

    Circus peanuts. I have never seen my cat so freaked out as when we gave her the tiniest pinch of a circus peanut.

    • Chickadee

      SALAD FINGERS!!!!! I love those videos, but it seemed to disturb my mother for some reason. I can’t imagine why…

      I like…. to caress… rusty… spoons.

  22. Diane

    The only thing scarier than geese is swans. Effing swans! (One chased my mom as a kid and ATE her tiny little cardigan!!)

    • Brigitte

      Hah! I was going to mention the swans that attacked my brotherwhen we were kids, you beat me to it. All the bird attacks only amuse me . . as long as they’re happening to OTHER people! ;-)

  23. margaret

    My niece and nephew came to visit shortly after Halloween the year they were 3. They had learned during the spooky season that being afraid got reassurances and attention. They decided to be afraid of everything. My SIL kept trying to explain to them “You aren’t scared. You are tired/mad/don’t want to/etc.” The most favorite and now oft repeated by my sister and me is when Noah didn’t want to get dressed. “Daddy, I’m scared of pants.”

  24. Rocky Mountain Woman

    So every spring these huge massive out of control scary Canadian Geese invade my farm. Now i regularly deal with 1000 lb horses, no problem at all. But these geese are scary as hell. One year I had to call animal control because they wouldn’t let me out of my house. They would screech and chase me back in the house. The animal control guy had to call for reinforcements. It took three sturdy men to collect them all up and get them in them in the truck. Geese are scary!

    • Holly Gault

      RMW! Your here on WCS! My worlds collide.

      • Holly Gault



      • Rocky Mountain Woman

        Hi Holly!

        I love this place. It’s one of my “must reads”.


  25. Holly Gault

    Tell that child that s/he can never have popcorn again, because, ya know… corn.

  26. Aimee

    Dude, geese are TERRIFYING. When I was a kid we lived in Plymouth, Mass right near the Mayflower. There was a flock of horrifyingly aggressive geese at Jenny Pond, which was right behind our back yard, down a big hill. My sister, who was 3 or 4 at the time, once SMACKED a goose that was menacing here with it’s rampant goosiness. Years later, when I was living in Plymouth again, I witnessed more than one tourist family literally unable to exit their cars because they were surrounded by mean honking pooping geese.



  27. Nelson's Mama

    I haven’t seen the first Bates yet, one of my husband’s BF from high school was the scary rapist/murderer? I don’t enjoy stuff like that!

    I will say that I do have a hearty respect for geese ;)

  28. js

    I watch “Real Housewives” of anything for my horror fix and think man, these people have a crap ton of money and still act like this?! My life is not so bad. Those people are crazy.

  29. Kayt

    Geese are eeeeevil!

    I was four years old, and at a park with my mother, and I got seperated from her on this walkway that went out over the water. I was at the end, looking at the sweet and not at all evil ducks in the water, when a couple of geese landed between us. I panicked and tried to run back to my mother, but the geese jumped me. And bit at me. And honked and hissed and I freaked. the. eff. out.

    I also don’t trust corn for the same reason, but I do enjoy it as part of salsas and such.

  30. Flesher

    Our house contains scary tissues. (The background to this issues involves a haunted house and a fever.)

  31. Brigitte

    I loves the scary movies, both the disgusting, splatter-y kind and the plottish, atmospheric kind. But they’re best in the rare instances where they combine the two!

  32. Amanda

    Yes to the horror movies. I watched them and read the books all the time as a teen. And an emphatic yes to the geese! Geese are terrible. I may or may not have been party to chasing geese in golf carts at one point in my life.

  33. 12tequilas

    Am I the only one who read “There should be a movie called ‘Geese'” and immediately started thinking “Geese is the word/Is the word/That you heard/It’s got groove/It’s got meaning…”

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