Little Post of Horrors



Happy Halloween, kiddos!

It is I, Count Darlacula! [thunder claps] I’m here to share with you an old post I wrote ages ago about things from the past that truly scared the crap out of me. Namely, rotary phones and spaghettiOs.  What could be more horrifying? The above photo? You got me there. In my defense, it was taken before my first morning cup o’ joe. Joe being our next door neighbor and the cup meaning it was filled with his blood and not actual coffee and whatever, you get the idea.

Well, I’ve got to run off to enjoy some more of that delightfully waxy candy corn. I sure hope by next Halloween it finds its way out of my colon.

Meanwhile, ENJOY! (or not)


The Spooky Tales of My Youth

It’s Halloween again! Gather ’round the fire, kids! Time for some deliciously dark and scary stories!

[cue creepy organ music]

Once upon a dreary time, I was your age and living through the ghastly 1970s and 80s. [lightning flashes] Times were hard during this digital-free era. My daily life was a constant battle between the forces of good and evil.  So many things went bump in the night. How I survived without today’s technology is a mystery.

When I was 12, if I wanted to call up a friend, I had to wait for my stupid brother to get off the phone. That’s right. We had only one line.

[cue Law and Order music–dunn, dunn!]

Countless hours were spent seething with anger and glaring at the phone cord trailing underneath the closed closet door where my older brother whispered sweet nothings (emphasis on the nothings) into his girlfriend-of-the-month’s ears.

But if the planets aligned just right, I could actually get on the phone for a few minutes and enjoy a private conversation–until my father installed a second phone on the same line in the kitchen. [dunn  dunn!]

Then I’d endure hearing the telltale click of one of my brothers picking up the phone on the other line, and their creepy breathing as they listened to my heated private conversation about how I liked Bobby, but Bobby liked Suzy.

The terror of realizing my brother might have heard something super secret would paralyze me with fear. Did he hear what I said? Is he going to blab it to the cool kids at the lunch table tomorrow? Will Bobby know I like him?!  The phone’s ominous click would seep into my dreams. Click! CLICK! CLICK! Oh, the horror!

When the phone wasn’t free, I’d hole myself up in my bedroom in the attic and blast my music.  Yes, we used to have to listen to our music out loud, with no iPod or earbuds. [dunn, dunn!]

I was the proud owner of a giant boxy beast of a stereo, a versatile, top-of-the-line technological marvel for the 80s. Why, I could either slap a record on the turntable up top or slide in one of my famous mixed cassette tapes of the Beatles/Def Leppard into the deck on the bottom.

Yes kids, back then we didn’t have iPods where you could casually flip through thousands of tunes using your magic fingertips. Instead, I had to sift through a dusty old stack of albums then listen to my favorite song skip on the needle.

Hearing John Lennon sing, “Imagine there’s no–Imagine there’s no–” over and over again was horrifying, my blood would run cold. Imagine there’s no what?! I’d cry. No what, John?! Will I ever know what he’s trying to imagine?

Today, I miss listening to music and forcing everyone else within a 10 mile radius to listen to it too.  Sometimes for fun, we’d crank up the volume so loud, the neighbors down the road would call the cops. You can’t pay for that entertainment, people!

If all the scratches on my records made me sad, I’d head out to rent a movie with my parents. It was a dark and stormy night, when I had to get into my Dad’s wood-paneled station wagon and  actually have him drive me to the video rental store. [dunn dunn!]

Yes, before Netflix, before DVDs on Blu-Ray, there was a time when we had to physically go to a place where people stood around like zombies, milling around displays filled with these things called VHS tapes.

Inevitably, you’d arrive all excited to rent the latest hottest flick that finally came out on video after being released five years earlier (“Hot damn! I’m gonna go rent ET tonight!”) only to find that the 55 copies of ET were already taken.

Still you’d desperately try to bring an empty box up to the counter, only to encounter a smug clerk sneering at you,  “If there’s nothing behind the box, there ain’t no movie. Now do you want to buy these 20 dollar Twizzlers or what, pal?”

So I’d slunk on back to my house, “ET”-less, stomach growling and attempt to whip up some food.  Did I zap some frozen meal in my microwave? Please! Only one friend of mine had one of those new-fangled contraptions. It was bigger than the entire kitchen counter and made such a loud buzzing noise we thought for sure we were getting cancer while watching her spaghettiOs splatter.

Are the SpaghettiOs done yet? I’m not sure, but I think my forehead’s melting.

All we had was my grandmother’s old stove that, if we were lucky, used to short-circuit and mildly electrocute us. [dunn, dunn!]

But only if you held a metal spoon just so and turned the loose stove’s dial at the same time. It was quite the science experiment. My brothers discovered this zapping action by accident one afternoon while making spaghetti-o’s and that was all it took. More cheap entertainment. “Hey! Check this out!” one of them would yell, stabbing the metal spoon down into the pan, feeling the tiny yet delicious jolt over and over again until they saw stars. Explains a lot.

Which brings me to regulating body temperature.  Back in my day, we didn’t have air conditioners or those cutting edge fans that oscillate. What did we do when the temperature hit 110 with 150% humidity? We’d sweat. [dunn dunn!]

That’s right. Sweat a lot. My bedroom was upstairs in the attic and it sometimes got so hot up there in the summer, my John Lennon record would melt into a sad Imagine puddle. So I’d whine and moan and cry to my parents. “It’s too hot! I can’t sleep!” And my father would put his hand on my head and say, “Tough cookies, kid”. What a wise man he was for giving me an extra dose of the tough love of the 1970s.

So kids, as you drift off to sleep tonight, watching the latest flick on your iPad, texting away on your smart phone and eating your Hot Pockets in your perfectly temp-controlled bedroom, think of me and the horrors I faced not so long ago.

Nighty night, kiddies!

Oh, and Happy Halloween! (Mua ha haaa!)

66 thoughts on “Little Post of Horrors

          1. Lol! One of my faves was the Acapulco Gold commercial skit, where the guy singing the jingle takes hit during every take and eventually starts demanding more takes to “get it right.”

            “No sticks, no seeds that you don’t need, Acapulco Gold is *takes hit* Bad ass weed…”

          2. Yes! And wasn’t there also a skit “What I did Over My Summer Vacation” and he said “On the first day, I looked for a job. Then I hung out at the drug store. On the second day, I looked for a job. Then I hung out at the drug store. On the last day, I got a job. Keeping kids from hanging out in front of the drug store.”
            I remember listening to that and laughing my sorry ass off.

  1. Happy Hallooowweeeeennnnn, muahahaaaaaa!

    I saw a facebook thing the other day that made me laugh – today’s kids will never know the satisfaction of slamming down the phone receiver after an argument, all they can do is jab angrily at a touch screen.

  2. Truly terrifying…again.

    You have gotten more mileage out of one bad/wonderful photo than anyone I ever met. There’s got to be a Guinness Book of Records slot for that.

    1. My gorgeous mug is going to be the main feature of our family newsletter AND our holiday card. I’ll be sure to also mail you a life-sized blow-up copy. Because I love you that much, Pego. Merry Christmas!

  3. Mark

    Lol, cute!

    I guess we were the same way as well, no? I’m 47. I imagine our parents had similar things to say. I mean one I recall hearing was about how they had to walk through waist-high snow in sneakers with only a light-weight coat for about 1.5 miles to get to school. (Chicago)

    Whatever, the more they told it the more ridiculous it got – sometimes it was through a blizzard, or they had to walk backwards. You get the idea I think, they just kept piling on to it.

      1. Mark

        Hehe, yeah. I guess every generation has kids who never know how easy it is they have things. I sometimes wonder how things would have been different growing up if I had is as simple as these kids today do. There are so many possible outcomes of how my life would have been drastically altered.

  4. You had me at spaghettiO’s. I just put some in my kid’s lunch today. And *thanks a lot* for the trip down memory lane. Now I’ll have nighmares about someone listening in on my phone conversations. We used to listen to Casey Kasem’s countdown every week and sit by the radio poised to hit the record button on the tape deck when that one special song came on. Of course, we had the receiver wired into the tape deck so the sound quality would be as top notch as the station was tuned in.

    1. Oh man! Soooo many hours I wasted waiting for Casey Kasem to play my song so I could tape it on my cassette recorder. The worst was when at the end of the song, the stupid DJ would talk over the music. Gahhhh! We had it so rough back then, didn’t we?

  5. Oh the horror!! And I’m talking about that picture up there. Yikes! Although, if ever a face were made for a picture, that’s probably the one.

    All of those atrocities and more were the horrors of my youth as well. Except for the AC. We weren’t animals! Oh, and if you aren’t watching The Goldbergs, you must. It will probably give you PTSD, but it’s such fun.

  6. You make me so nostalgic, Darla. For SpaghettiOs and old, phones that you had to DIAL (click, click, click; click click click click click …) and for those old record albums. There are still some songs that I hear and think that there’s supposed to be a repeated word there, isn’t there? Riding on the City of New Orleans, Orleans …</i? That's how it goes, right?

    1. Oh the typewriter. Yeah, I so miss those days. Good ol’ white-out was my friend. I took a typing class back in 1986 in high school and all I remember is how damn loud it was listening to 20 students clack away.

  7. Uhm – we are all one age here, aren’t we? Guess, who, even though in Germany, spent Saturday afternoons capturing the favourite songs from her favourite radio station on her tape? Yes, that was me. Cannot relate to Spaghett-what – but no AC, still don’t have AC here! Germans do not often have AC in their houses. In some offices, but they are feared … But having to listen to your music loudly – yes! Rental videos – later, in my twenties. Might have taken some more time, before they really took off here. Mobile phones the size of a shoe box? Only in very expensive cars!
    I even know the fun of phoning ones boyfriend from a public phone cell. Growing up in a tiny village, my grandparents learned about me phoning there from some well meaning neighbours .. oh the fun of old days.

    1. That reminds me of the sheer horror we faced if your car broke down on the highway. We’d actually have to hike to the nearest public pay phone and hope to god we had correct change. Kids today have no idea what hell we went through back then.

      1. Oooh, I remember a story from my EARLY youth, somewhere early 70ies, when the dog we had died – and shortly afterwards we got visited by a dog of the same breed – who had gone AWL – he had some coins in a little pouch on his collar. To make a local phone call – phone number provided. We do not have these kind of coins anymore – we changed the currency to Euro in 2002 …

  8. I remember when….not so long ago. Did you really take a box up to the counter with no movie?! Ha ha. Never tried that one. I do remember the two phones with one line, and the long telephone cord that was long enough to take into anyone’s bedroom. And the phone hogging…You make me feel wiser. We lived through stuff here!

  9. So many shudder-worthy things. Rotary phones, VHS tapes, the reminder that I worked in a video store once… P.S. It was haunted.

    But my favorite part of this is that Darlacula photo. You should really consider making that your full time author photo. It is epic.

  10. You know something? I’m probably old as fuck for saying this, but I miss when sitting around listening to an album was something you DID. Like, as a group. Probably totally high, but you get the point. It was really cool, and I wish people still did that.

    1. Yes! God, those were the days! And listening to an entire album from start to finish, really it was an experience. No one listens to music out loud anymore. I remember at one point, two of my brothers and I would all be blasting our own stereos from our bedrooms until the windows rattled. How I miss that!

  11. Thanks for the memories, Maineiac. Another horrifying memory…ordering the 10 albums plus one bonus album for a penny and promising to buy 10 more albums over the course of a year knowing full well you had no steady stream of income with which to purchase said records.

  12. When I try to explain a rotary dial phone to my kids, or the fact that we didn’t have microwaves, my kids EYES bug out. They’re like what? You didn’t what . . .
    They have no idea what it was like growing up in the 70’s and 80’s.
    Just the other day my son asked me how old I was, “Mom, when you were a kid were dinosaurs still living?”

  13. I’m a bit younger than you, but some of these things (namely cassettes and VHS tapes) were still around when I was growing up. We didn’t get Internet at my house until I was 11 and it was a very slow dial-up connection, so for the first couple of years there was very little Internet surfing, just logging in once or twice a day to check the email real quick. I remember when we got DSL it seemed like the coolest thing ever. Also, getting my first Walkman and then upgrading to a Discman in high school. Ah, memories…

    1. I never had a Walkman, just my gigantic boom box. And I remember vividly when the internet first started, I think it was 1991 and my brother was trying to explain it to me “See, you can type in anything and it’ll spit back information to you! Type in the word FART and see what happens!” I thought the internet was the biggest waste of time and would never last, and it looks like I was half-right about that prediction.

  14. Darla, I am so sorry for all your suffering! For parts of it, at least, I was right along there with you. My first boom box didn’t have a record player. However, it was a lovely shade of light pink that matched my light pink velcro high tops. Thanks for the memories!

  15. Wait a minute, now that I think about it, my sister and mine’s bedroom was in the attic. It was great except for the no air conditioning (not sure it was even invented then – yes, I am that old) and no heat, which had been invented but apparently not to the attic. It was wonderful to listen to the rain though. When it came through the roof – not so much.

  16. You’ve just reminded me of my teenage years. Something else we didn’t have, at least in the UK, was colour TV. Back then everything was a black and white movie. Or central heating come to that, in winter there’d be ice on the inside of the bathroom window while you cleaned your teeth in the morning. 🙂

    1. We had a tiny black and white TV for awhile in the kitchen. And your memory of the ice on the INSIDE of the window — we had that too. For heat we made do with a plugged in heater and when I’d take a bath, I’d throw water on it and watch it sizzle. Good times.

  17. I share your pain, Darla. Thank you for sharing these creepy tales. I now feel less alone.

    When I was a teen, we lived in the country and had an 8-party line. No wonder everyone knew everyone else’s business. And, yes, my little brother used to eavesdrop on me, too … and prank me about some guy calling me but he couldn’t remember who. It’s a wonder I survived my teen years. 😉

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