The other day, I was talking with my sister Caroline and we ended up on the subject of sprinting up the stairs. Why would anyone sprint up the stairs? From sheer terror of course. Terror of the BOOGEY MAN. As we laughed at ourselves for the individual quirks on this topic, I realized there a few versions of the Boogey Man that required sharing.
We’ll start at the top with the Fred also known as Dad, Richie, Poop A Doop and other words that are NSFW. He didn’t share this story with us children until we were adults (which we’re not really) so we find it hilarious – now.
The house he grew up in was, I’m going to say a Cape Cod? The attic had been renovated into living quarters for, I want to say his parents? To get up there required a steep climb ending at a landing with a window right in front of you. Now I’ve never heard him say anything about sprinting up stairs from Boogey Man terror but when you hear his tale, you might wonder.
I’m going to flat out make some of this up because, ask anyone, I have a terrible memory. But climbing those stairs as a small Richard, he would swear to seeing a tiny gremlin – outside the window – looking at him. I don’t believe the gremlin ever came inside or chased Richie around – just looked at him. But I’m getting creeped out just thinking about it. I don’t see a crazed, gooey, monstrous goblin. More of a small, weird, green thing with an unsettling smirk. Whoa.
Caroline didn’t give me a specific Boogey Man or gremlin from her memory. But we both share the deep seated need to race up the basement stairs with complete disregard for life or limb. I’m not talking about taking 2 at a time or hustling. This is flat out, terrorized BOLTING. Heart POUNDING, get the EFF out of my way NOW. Which ends with looking over your shoulder, verifying no one SAW what just happened. And then laughing at how completely absurd it is to be over 30 years of age and running around like a maniac with a chainsaw is after you.
Now, in fairness to Caroline and myself, this ludicrous act has subsided some over the years. And frankly, it’s not as common in our respective homes – today. The same cannot be said, however, for ye olde homestead in unassuming, happy Fanwood, NJ – site of The Basement. This is where we grew up. Where we lived in fear of GOING INTO THE BASEMENT. It is here that we both learned the art of going up 17 stairs in 0.3 seconds.
You see, this wasn’t any old basement. THIS basement contained an old closet with a DOOR. And this closet was in the far, back CORNER. What little light there was in this terrifying space shone NOT in this corner. When you OPENED the door, there was an old, defunct TOILET. Ok, ok, I may be overdoing it a HAIR but when you hear what else resided in this old bathroomy closet, you’ll be on my side. A POSTER OF WALT WHITMAN!
Now, I can’t find the exact poster online but it was a profile of the MAD MAN you see here plus a poem running down it. Just look at this guy! He’s got Appalachian Cannibal written over his face. Which, based on my extensive research is not too far off the mark. He is credited with some prose containing the words, and I quote “our very flesh shall be a great poem” – CANNIBAL! Imagine, being around 6 years of age, opening a creaky old door and discovering this mug looking down at you. SCARY. AS. SHIT.
Ok, I’ve caught my breath and am no longer writing this from inside a closet. It’s now clear where this primal urge to bat-out-of-hell it up the steps originated. Because Walt Whitman. So what about the real, actual Boogeyman? My vague memory of this scary fellow involved a guy with some kind of cloak rising out of a vacuum cleaner – which thanks to The Google is not so hard to find. Because when you search The Boogeyman, one of the options is a movie from the 80’s. Sounds about right. Until you click on it and realize it’s some gruesome, supernatural fright fest. Pretty sure we didn’t watch that at the age of 6.
A little more digging yielded this GEM – Mr. Boogedy. I found some lengthy clips from this DISNEY film but the one below is far more entertaining. I didn’t see anyone coming out of a vacuum cleaner but the absurd BOOGEDY! BOOGEDY! that everyone is saying rings a strong bell. And I think the weirdo with a green force field is my vacuum guy memory.
Moral of the story? It’s Walt Whitman and a gremlin that are at fault, not The Boogeyman.