Jack Ax

I must thank my sister for her tip on watching horror movies. Both of us saw some movies when we were too young and have harbored an anxiety about them ever since. Last year I set a goal to overcome my fear of these traumatic flicks. The first challenge was The Exorcist.

My sister's technique is quite simple. Just take a Kleenex, separate a layer and hang it on the outside of your glasses. (A sweatband will do for those sans specs.) Through that hazy sheet, everything's mostly shadows and therefore not scary. It may sound bizarre, but it works. The experience was completely liberating. Three-quarters in, I tossed the Kleenex and was hating Linda Blair for being a bad actress, as opposed to Satan incarnate. Next task: Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

I could barely sleep for three weeks after walking in on my parents watching that damn movie when I was a child. The scene was emblazoned upon my tiny brain--Jack, ax in hand, limping through the halls of the Overlook taunting, "Daaaanny? Daaaanny?" I was a basket case after seeing that. But I had tasted victory once, and I was ready to conquer crazy Jack, creepy Danny and the whiny, awful acting of Shelley Duvall.

So Valentine's Day, after the requisite singles dinner, I went home to take care of some long-overdue business. Kleenex: check. Blanket, stiff drink, comforting pet: check, check, check. I was strong even through the oral sex scene with the freaky masked people, the decomposing lady in the bath and "All work and no play...", but then the limping started and the blinder was necessary. I finished it...but I'm not satisfied. I've come so far. I can do this. And I'll do it (fingers crossed, no Kleenex) right there with the audience of the Inwood this weekend.

What scares me most, though? If I get past The Shining, I must then deal with my ultimate fear: The Elephant Man. (I must add a disclaimer that it has nothing to do with the honorable Joseph "John" Merrick but simply being too young to understand what the movie was about.) Wish me luck and pass the tissues.