Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Satan vs. Bigfoot '77

Whatever happened to the great boogeymen of my youth? The devil and that hairy ape man caused many sleepless nights back in the day, but now they're mere cultural oddities.

My youthful paranoia was initially spurred by an evil babysitter, Mrs. DuPree, who used to make me drink carrot juice and watch scary movies. It was my first introduction to Bigfoot, and I was jarred. Strange kid that I was, I made it my goal to disprove his existence, mainly to quell those nightmares. But my elementary school research was lacking: I couldn't disprove there was a Bigfoot, and as a result lived in fear for many years following.

Mephistopheles was another B-movie staple of the 1970s, headlining flicks such as "Satan's Cheerleaders," co-starring Mrs. Munster, Yvonne De Carlo (who played the high priestess). Devil worship even became an underground Hollywood fad; Lucille Ball and Sammy Davis, Jr. were among the curious.

Raised a Southern Baptist, I always took the devil seriously. For the weeks after I first saw "The Exorcist" on cable, I treated every stomach ache with alarm. Surely, I was possessed. Most nights, I couldn't sleep; seeking comfort, I would read those virtuous "Boys Life" books (circa the 1950s) --- like "Johnny Scores the Big Touchdown" --- until I passed out.

As any good uncle would do, I've tried to pass these childhood fears on to my nephews, but they won't bite. The concept of a "Sasquatch" makes them laugh. As for the devil ... he has his own video game. How scary can that be?

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