Monday, November 8, 2010

Irrational fear #1: dinosaurs.

When I was four, we took a trip to the Witte Museum in San Antonio, where we lived at the time. They had (actually, have, still to this day) an exhibit called Dinosaurs Unearthed. It's a whole big display with plants, environments, and full-size dinosaur models. I was wandering along with my family, staring up at the huge dinosaurs from my tiny four-year-old vantage point, having a grand old time. I'm staring up at one of them -- a gentle brontosaurus, of all things -- when all of a sudden, it swiveled its long, life-sized neck, looked directly at me, and ROARED.

I climbed my mom.

I think that's probably when my fear of dinosaurs began.

When I was, I don't know, eight? Nine, maybe ten? Anyway, some time after we had moved back to Minnesota, my sister and I sat down after school one day and watched Jurassic Park. I had a little puppet on a stick, like this guy:

Mine was a white cat. You could make it turn around, or hide inside its little cone. For some reason, I had this with me while we watched the movie. I don't remember much of the movie (I've watched it since, and I still couldn't give you a good plot summary, and I definitely couldn't tell you how it ends; I think I block these things out), but I do remember what I was doing during the movie: peeking out from behind my cat, who I used to translate my fear. I made the cat stop watching during all the scary parts. I'd twist it away from the screen, or if things got really intense, make it hide in its cone, maybe let it peek out of the top a little. I spent most of the movie curled up tight to myself in my chair, peeking around my poor, terrified puppet. To this day, I can't watch Jurassic Park without getting ridiculously tense, and maybe hiding behind my hands a little.

There's a ride in one of the parks in Orlando called DINOSAUR. Even the name is intense. When we took our family vacation to the parks a couple of Augusts ago, Pam decided I needed to ride this terrifying contraption. (Actually, I had been on the ride a few years earlier, when I was in Orlando for orchestra tour, and I loved it. My dinosaur fear must have been in regression in high school.) The picture that resulted from the ride was so hilarious, we had to buy it. I wish you could see it better, but here you have it.

Let's discuss it a bit, shall we?

First, let me tell you that the picture is taken when some sort of raptor or something pops out of nowhere and roars. We think a better place to take it would be at the end of the ride, when a terrifying T-rex swoops down from above and threatens to eat everyone. Then everyone would have looks of terror and surprise. It's a little more hilarious this way, though, when I'm involved.

Note the kids in the back row, who are impressed, awed, and downright delighted.
The middle row has a small child who is hiding, but I think we'll give him a pass; he's young, after all.
The front row is Pam, me, and our dad. Pam and Dad look.... mildly interested. "Oh, look at that. A dinosaur. Huh." I am smiling, but also cowering. This was not a fake pose I thought would be funny; I didn't even know this is where the picture takes. I was actually trying to hide from the dinosaur, because dinosaurs, you see, are terrifying. (The ride is actually awesome, and Pam and I even went on it a second time. It's like scary movies: it made me tense, even as I enjoyed it.)

The moral of the story is, while I may occasionally enjoy them, I am irrationally afraid of dinosaurs. Now you know.

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