Ten Things that have haunted me in the past or haunt me still ...
1. The fact that I ever smoked. Ten months down (since quitting) and still, I feel grossly deprived and a tad short of breath when I exert myself. On rare occasion, I still crave the bitter taste and the stench. If it's not too late, never, and I mean NEVER, smoke! God, I loved them so, yet am ever-haunted by them.
2. Uncle Fred. He was THAT uncle in our family. You know ... the one you read about when little girls grow up and get published? Though I always felt he was creepy, Fred never interfered with my own well-being. He did, however, wreak havoc on at least one cousin. The mere fact that I was ever in a room alone with the man sends a shiver up my spine. (I didn't change the name because I have no intention of protecting this piece of crap)
3. A seance I attended in my teen years. I feel neither here nor there as to whether or not netherworld spirits can take an active part in earthly doings; the jury's still out for me on this. But if they can't? Someone rigged one hell of an incredible prank on a large group of us in my dining room back on Staten Island. I don't think any of us has talked about it since.
4. The last time I ever got sick to my stomach. Isn't that a funny way to say that? "Sick to my stomach" ... wouldn't it be more correct to say "Sick in my stomach?" Anyway, I was just a kid in fifth grade at the time. It happened at home and just around bedtime. It was so traumatic to me because I hadn't done it very often at all up to that point. Like I remember how to count to three, I remember the sensation of not being able to get my breath while hurling. Ew, next haunting please. *call it the power of self-will, but I haven't barfed since*
5. The time I came home to a burglarized and ransacked apartment and without thinking, picked up the phone in the bedroom to call police. The threat hadn't even occurred to me until the voice on the phone said, "PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND GET OUT OF THERE NOW !"
Of course! The intruder could have been standing in my closet right behind me! EW ... more shivers, even still.
6. The first time I saw Jaws. I had read the book twice already, long before the movie was released. Having now watched the film over 20 times (easily), I still don't think one was better than the other. The book lent so much to my imagination - and the movie, well, it was SO well orchestrated ... so realistic at times. Anyway, the first time I sat through the movie, the initial 'reel them in' scene (no pun intended) with the young girl being chomped away from below, oh holy mother of all things lurking in the ocean - my fingers left indentations in the arm of the theater seat! I swear. It still thrills me (read: scares the crap outta me) every time.
7. Finding out that my childhood dentist sits in jail today after being arrested years ago for child molestation - IN HIS OFFICE. He was always a sadistic bastard ... though in my wee Haglette vocab, such words didn't exist yet. He would tell us to raise our arm if the drilling hurt. You could flail that arm to the motions of Beethoven's Fifth and the man turned a blind eye. Freaking drilltard.
8. How when I was a very young Haglette, I would lay in bed at night and imagine my bed to be a boat. I was floating on a vast, open ocean with nothing else in sight. I would stick my knee up beneath my sheet to pretend this tent was my only shelter. Sometimes I would drop a stuffed toy friend on the floor just so I could pretend-save it from the rough waters. The waters were always rough. Why I imagined this I don't know, but it was an almost nightly game I played for a long time. I am not comfy on boats today. I do okay in the pond because - well, there's no rough water. I did okay on the Staten Island Ferry going to work each day because - I had to make money. But I wouldn't even entertain thoughts of going on a cruise or a deep sea fishing boat or any such thing. Brrrrr ... shivers.
9. Watching an elderly stranger morph from sitting at the luncheonette counter enjoying a muffin and coffee into a little pile of quivering and trembling humanity as she lay there having a heart attack right in front of me and the rest of the patrons. She died. Right there where she fell off her stool. It didn't take long either. A fall, a couple of twitches, a gurgle and pffft ... gone. Pretty scary to a young girl of twelve ... especially since we all had to walk around her to get out of the luncheonette so the ambulance drivers could come tend to her. Yup. Still haunts me.
10. My mother's final conversation with me. She wasn't totally coherent, I'll give you that. She lay in her bed and was all but gone from this earth when she suddenly smiled - widely. I leaned in to her ear and whispered, "I see you smiling ... what are you smiling about mom?" She told me, "Oh Carol ... if you could see it. WOWWW... if you could just see it. It's so bright - there are stairs, there are angels - they're very white - SO white. This is beautiful." Now, my mom was a very faithful Catholic. She was a smart lady and loved to dream and wonder about things. She never let loose of her religion though - not for a second. I admire her for that, even though I don't share her beliefs. Sure, the morphine cocktail and pain chaser she was sipping a the time probably helped her to visualize whatever she wanted to. BUT ... if she was right! If it was real! If that's what she saw in her last hours? No way of knowing, is there? It still haunts me ... phew.