I oftentimes find myself wondering, “How did I get this way?” How did I end up the gore-loving (and relatively normal) weirdo I am today? What things did I consume growing up – whether by television, movies, books, or otherwise – that helped shape and develop my love for the weird, horrific and obscure? I have a ton of fond memories of discovering horror as I got older, but it’s really the darker, weirder, scarier memories that stayed with me and I believe had the biggest impact.
There are a ton of micro-occurrences that probably did most of the shaping, I’m sure – but they’re so buried in my subconscious that I’ll (thankfully) never remember what they are. Instead, it’s a handful of big, clunky memories that stick out to me, ones that I often recall and attribute to conditioning my love for the horrorstuff. These vivid recollections are responsible for what you see before you today.
One of my earliest memories of something scaring the absolute shit out of me – the type of fear that caused me to run from the room hyperventilating, tears streaming down my face – was a brief segment from Sesame Street that originally aired in 1980. In the piece, the band Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats sing a tune entitled, “You’re Alive”, a song in which they describe what makes you a living human being while simultaneously listing things that aren’t alive – like an ice cream cone.
Now, I know what terrified me about it but I don’t know why: the back-up singers singing, “Breathe in! (gasp) Breathe out! (exhale) Breathe in! (gasp) Breathe out! (exhale)”. My God, even watching it today I get chills.
Why? I really have no clue. Maybe it’s the same reason kids are afraid of thunderstorms: it’s a jarring, unsettling sound they aren’t used to. Or maybe it’s the minor key in which the song’s verses are played. Or maybe it’s the creepy, dead-eyed puppets that caused me so much discomfort – seriously, why do they look like that? Are they stoned?
Whatever the reason, I could not watch this segment any time it came on (which seemed to be regularly enough to scar my toddler brain forever). Give it a watch and let me know what you think. Scary, right?