Before we had three kids and a mortgage, an obsession with electronic gadgets that start with an ‘i’ (him) and a serious Starbucks addiction (me), my husband and I devoted a portion of our disposable income to seeing a movie almost every Friday night.
It was October, and as usual, the Friday night lineup included more horror movies than any other genre the closer to Halloween it got. During this particular year, “The Ring” was the one we’d both been anxious to see.
Before I go any further, I should probably mention that while I say (and think) I like being scared, I actually don’t. And it’s not because I’m all that scared at the time I’m watching the movie or hearing the story or running for my life through the haunted house, it’s because of what happens to me after.
When I’m alone.
With my imagination.
This Friday night was the start of a drill weekend for my husband and we had driven separately to the movie theater so that when the movie was over, he could continue on to his unit and I would go spend the weekend with my parents. This was also before two deployments and countless training and trips that have kept us apart for probably a third of our marriage before I’d learned how to be alone. (Rule #1: No scary movies right before or during a separation!)
Well, as anyone knows who has seen “The Ring”, that soppy-haired, speed walking little dead girl is creepy. She sneaks up on her victims.
In fact, as I write this, my husband’s not here, the kids are asleep, and I’m only about 50% sure she’s not standing behind me right now.
And that night, after I’d kissed my husband goodbye and gotten into my car, I was 100% sure if I looked into the rear view mirror she was going to be in my back seat.
It’s really hard to make a 30-mile drive without once looking into the rear-view mirror, but somehow I managed it, praying the whole way that if she was back there she would decide to let me live. I had had no part in her getting pushed into that well and being left there to die. Besides, she was supposed to call me first and let me know that I had “seven days” before she’d kill me.
I lived on that technicality until I pulled into the driveway of my parent’s dark house. I’d forgotten that my parents had my dad’s high school reunion to go to, and they hadn’t gotten back yet. Now, I really had a dilemma. Stay in the car with “The Ring” girl or run for the front door, risking some other unknown terror that might jump out of the bushes, or worse, be waiting for me inside the house. Right before I almost looked into the rear view mirror, I decided to take my chances, catapulted out of the car, and sprinted toward the porch stoop.
While I fiddled with my keys in the dark, the sound of my parent’s phone ringing pierced the silence. My heart stopped. “The Ring” was real. Samara was going to kill me. I stood completely frozen in place, becoming more and more afraid with each brrring!
The answering machine picked up. I wondered if Samara left messages, or if she preferred to dole out live death sentences. I bit my lip and waited. My mother’s voice, or, at least what I clung to all hope was my mother’s voice filtered through the speaker. I couldn’t tell exactly what she was saying, but it didn’t sound like “seven days,” so I allowed myself to resume breathing and unlock the door. I turned on every light downstairs, and after a few moments of inner-strength drawing, pressed the play button on the answering machine.
“Hey, honey, just wanted to let you know that Daddy’s reunion ran a little later than we expected, but we’re leaving now and we’ll be home soon,” my mother said cheerfully.
I spent the next twenty minutes searching for an 80’s movie like “Sixteen Candles” or the “The Breakfast Club” on my parent’s TV, something I could use as my gateway to feeling normal again, and wondered how I could ever have been afraid of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger. Samara’s was the face of all things evil. I finally succeeded in finding “Pretty in Pink” (not as feel-good as the other two Molly Ringwald staples, but a solid place to start regaining a sense of security.)
I have never been so happy for my parents to come home or for a drill weekend to end. And when “The Grudge” came out a couple of years later? Yeah, I watched it. On a drill weekend. After my husband left in the wee hours of the morning, I imagined that that nightmare-inducing Japanese girl was slithering up the side of my bed. That’s what I get for breaking Rule #1.
Now that I’ve sufficiently gotten my heart pounding and every little creak and pop I hear is causing me to jump and look around, I’ve got to try to go to sleep, so I can be ready for the thing that’s more frightening than any scary movie I’ve ever seen: getting the kids up and ready for school before 7:30 a.m.!