In Case of Raptors

        by Kate Dugger-   

These days Hollywood has great special effects. With Tinseltown setting the bar ever higher, it is hard for me, even as an adult, not to believe in movie characters. As children, movies are much more than entertainment; they are whole new worlds to explore and to become part of—sometimes even after the end credits are over. Years ago when “Jurassic Park” came out on VHS the effects were really good. Possibly too good. After watching it I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that dinosaurs were living, breathing and hiding around every corner!

            The aftermath of my watching “Jurassic Park” was some peculiar habits. When entering a bathroom, I would have to fling back the shower curtain to be sure there weren’t any eight-foot tall velociraptors lying in wait in my bathtub. When showering I would leave the shower curtain open about half way. This was so that I could the dinos intent on having me for dinner. Raptors are very cunning you know, so I needed an escape route. I could file it away with the rest of my “in-the-event-of’s,” just before “in the event of earthquake” would be “in the event of dinosaur attack.” My plan was to shimmy out of the porthole-ish shower window in the buff and escape to safety.

            I eventually abandoned showering with the curtain open. There were some things scarier than raptors—one of them being my mother. Apparently this tactic left my bathroom floor pretty swampy. So I had to resort to sneaking a quick look out of the curtain every few seconds to make sure there wasn’t a giant lizard-bird plotting it’s next meal.

            As I grew older and moved in to my own place, I continued to check behind the shower curtain for things lurking about that didn’t belong. I never really found anything but my friendly bathroom spider (good thing I never saw “Arachnophobia”) and an ill-fated ladybug.

When I got married I continued to carry out my unorthodox bathroom ceremonies only to be met with strange looks and an eyebrow quirk from my husband.

            At dinner with some relatives I found out that two boys had the same sort of foibles. The boys would leave a trail of wide open shower curtain in the houses they visited. We differed, however in what exactly we were looking for. To them Bigfoot (Sasquatch, Yeti, Yowie,etc.) was much more terrifying than velociraptors. To normal folks this would seem like a funny anecdote, but I didn’t laugh. It just would not have been right. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have at least 10 years on them.

            Even after my embarrassment, I continued to check the shower, still not finding even a speck of dinosaur dirt. All of that changed one Fourth of July. I found something a little bigger then my friend the spider. I walked into the bathroom, my mind on fireworks and hotdogs. I was reaching for the shower curtain, the act had become second nature, when I noticed the shower was breathing. Odd, it had never done that before!

            Preparing for my worst nightmare, I slid the curtain open slowly. Seventy pounds of fluffy Australian Shepherd looked at me as if saying “Surprise!” And then, “Now get out!” Apparently the booming fireworks hadn’t agreed with him.

Funny that he should find refuge in a place that has caused me so much anxiety.

            The absurdity of finding my real life Scooby-Doo in a place of a raptor seemed to cure my dino-phobia. It seemed my bathroom anxiety was at an end. I stopped fearing the unknown behind my shower curtain. I could shower without playing a one-sided game of peek-a-boo. I even gave up my escape route through the window. I felt like a new woman!

             That is until my husband introduced me to my first zombie movie, “Land of the Dead.” Hollywood, sadly, did a wonderful job on those special effects as well. It left my husband thirsty for more, and yours truly longing for the simplicity of dinosaurs. A new zombie movie would come home just about every week, and somehow I would always manage to walk by the television just in time to see some poor guy’s head being devoured.

            Maybe I should just buy a clear shower curtain.

~Originally published in the October/November 2010 issue of Hometown magazine.~