Fear of The Boogeyman is perfectly natural for a child. One might attribute these rational fears to many sources: campfire ghost stories, horror movies, a teasing sibling, etc. I had childhood friends who were afraid of Hobgoblin and Venom from the Spider-Man comics. One of my cousins swore up and down that Michael Myers was real, destined to stalk him in the shadows and in any dark location. Again- these are all seemingly natural fears, right? I thought so, too, which is why it took me years and years to come clean with “The Boogeyman” of my pre-pubescent years. I discovered him when I was 7 years old while watching a movie. A Nightmare on Elm Street? Nopenopenope. Friday the 13th? Nope. Surely it was The Exorcist, yea? Nope. He made his abrupt and haunting appearance in the famous bio-drama of a musical legend, What’s Love Got To Do With It. Damn you, Ike Turner. Damn you for stealing my childhood innocence! You slapped it away like…
My fear was exacerbated due to the layout of my bedroom located on the top floor of our house. One of my closets had a laundry shoot, roughly 7 feet long, in its floor. I was beyond convinced that Ike Turner was going to break into the house via the basement, meander through the laundry room, and crawl up the laundry shoot into my boudoir where he would beat me. If I ever awoke to a noise in the middle of the night I would keep my eyes shut, praying and shivering that when I opened them I would not see Ike smirking at me before he wails on my face.
I can never forget the scene where Ike throws Tina off the couch, starts punching her, and dragging her down the hallway by her arms. Her screams terrified me at the deepest level. The look on her kids’ faces while they watch her getting beat made me understand the reality of it all. This image has been seared into my memory. And I have never been MORE afraid of Ike Turner in my life.
I had 3 choices every night. I could face my fears and wait to get beaten. I could run to my parents’ bedroom screaming that I was having an “Ikemare,” which was the term I created and used all the time. Or, lastly, I could trick Ike by stuffing a pillow under the sheets in my bed and then hide under my bed. My bed was large; it had a built in desk, drawers, and I could fit under the mattress with a box fan, all of my stuffed animals, and more pillows. It was my Fortress of Solitude. While under my bed I would drift off to sleep chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” over and over like Tina did to find her strength and peace.
It’s humorous to most of my friends now to look back and know that I was [moderately] unafraid of Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, ghosts, etc, but was absolutely petrified of Ike Turner. But I see this as being very mature for my age? Think about it: I knew the movie monsters were fake and entirely made up with the sole intent to scare us. Someone could kill me in my dreams? Bitch, please. Ike Turner was a real, violent, misogynistic person. I think the fact I was able to discern between fake evil and real evil at such a young age put me just a step above the rest! But I mean, even if his fists of fury were not terrifying, that wig he got going on makes me want to run for the hills! Did I mention my fears were not isolated to my bedroom at night? I was also convinced he would carjack us and beat me in the backseat. No lies.
Who or what were you afraid of when you were a child? Were you afraid of the fictitious monsters that we believed would hide under our beds or outside our windows while we slept? Or were you scared of something more tangible and real? Regardless of what you feared as a child, I hope that we can all look back on those times as “kids will be kids” and dance it all out!