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As a youngster I led a pretty sheltered life. My mother was a Lutheran Zealot and didn’t allow me to watch a lot of T.V. shows or movies, especially not scary ones. I have since grown, uhm, less sheltered. Those early years are the ones that really shape how you react to your environment though, and sometimes those impressions last well into your normally rational adult life.

When I was quite young, I must have been five years old or so, I watched an episode of Scooby-Doo. My tender mind wasn’t accustomed to such visual horrors. I recall seeing a monster capped in a glowing diving helmet. The port swung on its hinges and light poured out the opening. As the beast emerged from the surf onto the sandy beach of an island, kelp hung from his shoulders and his hands were revealed to be…. Dun Dun Duh!… Giant red lobster claws!

I was scarred for life.

I know it must seem trivial. Oooh, scary the cartoon monster has lobster claws! I was a fragile youth though and it frightened me considerably. After viewing this four color demon I could no longer sleep with any part of my body, save my head, exposed to the air. I feared that if any limb were to rest outside of the comforting warmth of the blanket that it would be severed by the Diving Demon with Lobster Claws for Hands.

Of course I quickly grew out of such a silly belief, but I found that I was still terribly uncomfortable with my limbs being exposed as I slept. For years I simply couldn’t sleep without some sort of cover, no matter how minimal or thin it was.

It wasn’t until I joined the Army and I was forced to sleep through a Georgia summer without air conditioning that I was able to kick this horrible phobia. Even to this day I still feel a little uncomfortable if my feet hang over the end of the bed. So, beware what you expose children to when they’re young. It may seem fine now to let Uncle Louie toss the little scamp in the air while making “Whoosh” noises, but that child may grow up to have a terrifying and debilitating fear of being thrown into the air by hairy giants.

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