Halloween season is upon us, so in that spirit I would like to share an experience from my childhood involving scary movies. I was forbidden from watching most scary movies for many years, but my parents were wise enough to know that I would eventually find my way to them and so they needed to prepare me for them. It’s the same reason why we inoculate kids against diseases. I was certainly frightened when I first saw Mr. Boogedy, Poltergeist (1982), and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but thankfully I had the tools I needed to deal with their horrifying aspects because of something simple my mom said to me.
My mom loves Fiddler on the Roof, and so I watched it several times as a kid. And I remember one time in particular when it got to the dream sequence. You see, a struggling milkman named Tevye promised a rich widower named Lazar Wolf that he could marry Tevye’s eldest daughter Tzeitel. The trouble is that Tzeitel loves her childhood friend, a poor tailor named Motel. She begs until Tevye allows her to marry Motel, but now he has the problem of convincing his wife and everyone in their close-knit community that it’s okay to renege on his promise to Lazar. That’s when he comes up with an ingenious solution: blame it on Lazar’s dead wife Fruma-Sarah.
The following scene is Tevye’s dream. After you watch it, I’ll tell you what my mom said during it to help me not be afraid, even though it’s full of ghosts and spooky imagery.
Fruma-Sarah may not seem too intimidating to a grown-up, but when I was a kid she was terrifying. That is, until my mom told me something that changed my life: “Doesn’t she look like she’s having so much fun?” It was a switch of perspective that helped me see the scene in a whole new light. Suddenly, Fruma-Sarah wasn’t a ghoul floating above me waiting to grab me by the throat and throttle me, but she was an actress in a lot of makeup hanging from wires having a blast hamming it up.
The final moments of the scene perfectly depict my before-and-after reactions to the scene. Originally, I was like Tevye’s wife Golde, wide-eyed with fear. But thanks to my mom’s helpful observation, I was able to tap my head and knowingly laugh with the scene.
So now when I watch scary movies, I’m always able to access that part of my brain that says that what I’m watching isn’t real and the actors are probably all having fun most of the time. It’s a good strategy to avoid getting scared out of my wits. Thanks, Mom!
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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