Friday, December 12, 2008

Are you afraid of the dark?

As a child, I was deathly afraid of the dark. In fact, I had a little desk lamp with a figurine of an apple that was kept on throughout the night. When you think about it, regarding the dark with a healthy sense of suspicion is perfectly adaptive. We are creatures that depend on sight (even though our ability to see is notably inferior to some other species). Our other primary senses - hearing, taste, smell, and touch - lack the necessary acuity to provide us with adequate forewarning of hazards in the absence of sight (though the congenitally blind do make some adaptation to enhance their other senses in order to get by). Once the lights are out, danger could be lurking around any corner.

As I grew older, my irrational fear of the dark diminished. For instance, I'm pretty comfortable in my own house come nighttime (although the unfamiliar bowels of the furnace room with its many exotic sounds still give me pause). But recently, my childhood phobia has begun creeping back into my life in a most unexpected manner. As of late, I've been driving myself down to the subway in the morning. School starts at 8 AM, which usually involves waking up around 6, and shuffling out of the house at 7. At this point, it's still dark.

Maybe I've just logged a few too many hours being eviscerated by zombies in Half-Life 2... but there's something unspeakably creepy about stepping alone into the garage at the crack of dawn. Perhaps it's the pitch black and silent atmosphere. Perhaps it's the frigid cold and the fact that your brain is still waking up. Perhaps it's the knowledge that the rest of the world is still asleep ("In space, no one can hear you scream"). I've taken to creeping carefully toward my car, the hairs rising on my back as I open the door, waiting for that hidden assailant to pop out from around the corner. Even more so as the garage door rolls up - waiting for that lurking killer to rush in from the outdoors and catch me unawares. And as I back the car onto the eerily lifeless street, I watch my rear view mirror with fervour for that concealed assassin waiting in the trunk. It's silly, I know. But solitude breeds vulnerability, and the early morning hours fog my rationality. Or maybe... I never really grew up at all.

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While we're (vaguely) on the topic of my morning commute, I'd just like to note that winter - and in particular, snow - has made the whole process rather more of a hassle. You see, when the ground is covered with snow, people don't really know where the parking lines are. When they don't know where the parking lines are, they try to approximate them by memory. The result is a whole bunch of people parked in some kind of loosely ordered chaos. Without a solid guide for where to park, some cars end up sticking out more than others, some cars end up double parked, and some cars... well some cars wind up completely off. This has made the lot slightly more hazardous both for parking and pulling out. And when the snow melts, you get a pretty solid idea of just how poorly some people did.

1 comment:

sandlot said...

I usually go from one room to another switching the next room's light on before I enter inside. That way, there's always light nearby.

I also avoid basements as much as possible.