Category Archives: Horror

Walking Miss Daisy

Warning: This post is pessimistic. Also, it may teach children bad values. (Chessed – loving-kindness – is a good thing, kiddies!)

High school. Remember it? Remember the excuses people had? “My dog ate my homework.” “I didn’t study for the test because my ____ (insert random relative) passed away.” “I’m sorry I’m late. I was helping an old lady cross the street.”

Well, I never used any of those excuses in high school, but you can believe how shocked I was to find myself using that last one two nights ago.

It was Friday night. My husband left for shul about 10 minutes before I did. We brought in Shabbat early because our wonderful dinner hosts were doing so and wanted to start dinner earlier as well. Not knowing how long it would take me to finish getting ready, I left my husband with the following instructions: If you see me after shul, great. If not, assume that I went straight to our dinner hosts.

All was going wonderfully. I was making great time and would have made it to shul well before the end of the evening prayer had it not been for that little, old lady who needed help crossing the street. She called out to me when I was only 5 minutes away from shul (our new apartment is about a 20 minute walk away). Still, how could I turn down this helpless old lady? Anyway, all she was asking was for help getting to the traffic circle. It couldn’t take more than a minute, right? Ten minutes later, as we were three quarters of the way to the traffic circle, the old lady – let us call her Miss Daisy – inquired as to where I was headed. I told her I was on my way to shul, bringing in Shabbat early. Upon hearing this, Miss Daisy decided that she wanted to come to shul as well, so we turned around and headed back in the other direction. Twenty minutes lost, no big deal. I might show up towards the end of davening, but at least I got to help an old lady!

Forty five minutes later, we hadn’t even covered half the ground between where she first stopped me and the shul. Convinced that davening was almost over, if not over already, I kept an eye out for my husband. I told her that the early prayers were probably over, but if she was interested to join the regular prayers at sunset to bring in Shabbat, she could maybe make it on time. Except when she found out how late they would end, she decided that she didn’t want to be out that late, and she didn’t want to ask me to leave early to walk her back home (WHAT?!), so I should just walk her back now. I tried explaining to her that I had to leave – that my husband and our hosts would be waiting for me – but she never got the picture. I wanted to cry. We turned around and retraced our footsteps from the past forty five minutes of walking.

Over this roughly hour and a half of walking, I kept thinking to myself, “Oh, this is horrible. Everyone will be waiting for me. I tried to do a good deed, but somehow it just went all wrong!” Meanwhile, Miss Daisy was recounting her entire life story: How she came to Israel from France, met her husband and got married when he was seventeen. How she worked as a secretary and was very good with a typewriter. How her husband had died two years earlier at the age of sixty four. How she was now sixty four years old (I promise you, she could not have been a day younger than ninety). When she told me her age, she asked me if she looked it. I thought she was pulling my leg – lying about her age to she if she could pass for thirty years younger. I decided to play along and agreed that she looked like a youthful sixty four. Then she told me that she was actually sixty, and when she moved to Israel the immigration office added four years to her age. Um… right.

Then she started asking me questions. If I was French. (No.) Am I married? (Yes, hence the head covering.) Do I have any kids? (No.) Why not? (How do I answer that?) What do I do? (Graphic design.) Does that involve computers? (Yes.) Could I teach her how to use her computer? (Um…) What does my husband do? (Programming.) Could he teach her to use her computer? (Um…) Where do I live? (Named the neighborhood.) Oh, she used to live there. What address? (It’s confusing.) She’s familiar with the area. What apartment number am I? (Lied about the number.) She has a friend who lives near there with seven kids… soon by you. (Me?!) She also has a daughter who lives near her with five kids and another on the way… soon by you. (More?!) She has another child in Bnei Brak and another one in France. They also have lots of kids… soon by you. (Okay…) It’s against the Torah to plan childbirth, did I know? (Riiiight.) Ten years ago she didn’t look like this. She went through menopause – do I know what that is? (Awkward.) – at age forty eight, and because of that her bones got weaker and she got osteoporosis and now she’s all hunchbacked. (I’m sorry.) She used to walk with a cane, but her doctor told her it was making her walk crooked. (Look out ma’am, you’re walking into a bush.) So she got a walker, but she wasn’t happy about it because it makes her look old. (Impossible! You look so young!) The nurses in the assisted living facility decorated her walker to make it more cheerful. Do I like it? (Um… I don’t believe that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is still alive, nor that he is the messiah, but… um… yes, very cheerful.) Do I like the kafiya on my head? (Um… a kafiya is an Arab headdress, generally check-patterned, like Arafat wore. What I’m wearing is called a headscarf… a mitpachatMit-Pa-Chat.)

And as we finally approached her assisted living facility…

Will I come inside to see her shul? (I’m sorry, but my husband is waiting for me.) It’s too bad that it’s Shabbat and she can’t take my phone number. (What a shame.) Will I come visit her? (We’ll see.) Her name is Miss Daisy and she lives on the third floor. (Good to know.) Do I have any friends who could teach her computers? (Any takers? Anyone? Anyone?) When I have a son, can I invite her to the brit-milah? She’ll even bring a present. (Wha-at?!)

After an additional three minutes of just saying goodbyes, I finally departed. Departed? Okay, I ran. I ran as fast as I could. I got to our hosts, but my husband had just left to go look for me. I left and found him, and together we returned to our dinner hosts, who were very gracious indeed about my holding them up for so long.

Lesson learned: I’ll never be taking that route to shul again.

Bottom line: An act of chessed for one person may be hell for another.


The Return of the Ring

Note: This post is a sequel to my earlier post, Scary Movie.

Remember how I saw the horror movie The Ring and convinced myself for a week that I was going to die? Well, I didn’t die, but that didn’t mean I stopped being paranoid. (For the record, while I was writing the Scary Movie post, I kept looking over my shoulder and hearing noises in the other rooms.)

One day, a number of months after I saw that movie, when the days were longer and the weather was already warmer, I came home from school and noticed something strange. There were no cars parked on my street. In fact, there weren’t even any cars parked in neighbors’ driveways on my street. (This is highly odd as my parents’ house is down the street from a public school and as long as school is in session there are always cars parked on our street.) My second big shock came when I opened the front door. Normally when I’d be the first one home at the end of the day, I’d get a loving welcome from our big pet dog (alav hashalom). But that day there was no greeting. In fact, there was no dog. We didn’t have a dog flap, so the only way he could have gotten out of the house was if he was dog-napped. The only way he could get dog-napped was if someone broke into our house. Was the intruder still there, waiting for an unsuspecting me to walk in?

Initiate paranoia!

As I walked in the front door, I heard a beeping sounds coming from an upper floor. Naturally, over-paranoid and dramatic me assumed it was a bomb… Either that or an alien transmission. Still nervous that there was an armed and dangerous intruder in the house, I worked my way over to the kitchen where I took out the largest and sharpest knife I could find. Then, grabbing the phone in my free hand, I ran out the back door of the house and hid in a bush. I called my Mom at work, but there was no answer. I called my Dad, no answer either. Failing all that, I dialed one of the only other numbers I knew by heart (aside from 911, which was next on my list) and called a friend from school. She wasn’t much help at calming me down, but at least I didn’t feel alone. Eventually my Mom called back and convinced me to go into the house. With my knife in one hand and the phone with my Mom on it in the other hand, I went upstairs, following the beeping noise. Poised and ready for battle, I found myself confronted by… a dying battery in the fire alarm. Problem 1 solved. But there was still no sign of the dog, and without him I felt very vulnerable (even though his only form of attack would have been licking the bad guy to death). I decided that my best bet was to hide in my bedroom and distract myself on AIM until a parent came home from work. Only after I turned the computer on did I remember that Samara (the scary girl in the movie The Ring – see my other post for the whole story) emerges through screens. (Scary situations bring out the worst in me.) So I turned the computer off, only to remember that Samara has the power to turn them on anyway, and deciding that it would be creepier if the computer turned on on it’s own when it was off than if it was already on and I lost control of it, I turned it back on. Sure enough, AIM distracted me enough to lower my weapon. Before I knew it, my Mom was home from work, and together we found the dog in the attic. (Apparently he was scared by something and ran through the screen door to the attic, but when he wanted to come back down the steps, he saw the screen at the bottom and decided it wasn’t possible to exit that way, so he stayed up there in hiding. Silly scared-y-dog.)

Life is so much more entertaining when you live in a movie.

Scary Movie

*Spoiler Alert! If you have not seen the movie “The Ring” and are so self-hating that you want to see it, just know this post gives away some plot stuff that happens late in the film. Also, if you have not yet seen the film and are hoping to and are not self-hating, you probably won’t want to watch the film after you ready this post.

Welcome to Israel. We have 2 seasons, and often times the weather can’t decide which one it wants to be.

I am going to predict that roughly 62% of this blog’s readers are either sick, have been sick in the past 2 weeks, will be sick in the next 2 weeks, or are suffering from runny nose, congestion and/or cough but are refusing to admit that they are sick. Why? Because it has happened to me every year since coming to this country that I get sick at the turn of the season. Why? Because the seasons don’t change gracefully. Let me illustrate this point: Rampaging brush fire in the Carmel forest 3 weeks ago caused by excessive heat, followed by the biggest rain and wind storm in Israel’s history (or so said JPost), followed by another couple of weeks of sun (and snow in NY), and guess what?! Next week is supposed to be cold and rainy again! Bottom line: crazy weather fluctuations = people get sick. So in honor of all you sick people out there, I’m going to tell you a story of a time, many years ago, back when I was a senior in high school, when I was sick. (Oh, and if you’ve been ever so eagerly waiting for a promised story of paranoia due to an overly dramatic mind, as promised in The Case of the Missing First Post, this is it.)

I don’t like horror movies. I’ve never liked horror movies. When I rented the VHS of the Buffy movie (before the TV show, which oddly enough I liked), I had to stop the film 5 minutes in because a movie still on the back of the movie case gave away that a vampire was going to jump Buffy on the way home from her cheer-leading thing and the nervous suspense was driving me to a paranoid frenzy. Also, when I tried to watch Silence of the Lambs, I had to stop about 10 minutes in because I was expecting Hannibal Lecter to jump out at any minute and bite Jodie Foster‘s head off. And yet, when I was at home, sick, in the winter of 12th grade, I decided that it was as good a time as any to see a horror movie. (I think my brain was congested with phlegm and I was therefore not thinking clearly.) Anyway, my Dad took me to the video store and we rented… The Ring. For those of you unfamiliar with this film, the rest of this post will seem little more than the ramblings of a crazy, paranoid person, albeit amusing. I guarantee greater amusement for those of you who remember more details of the film. The rest of this post is dedicated to why I was convinced I was going to die a week after I saw this movie.

(Ok, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, here’s a quick outline: People see an unlabeled short film, after which they get a phone call that they have a week to live, and during that week there are all sorts of things signaling that they’re going to die, and when the week is up, a creepy, long black haired girl who was found in a well comes out of the TV screen and scares the poor, suspecting victim, to death. The end.)

So as I said, I saw this movie with my Dad and was scared $#%^less. When the credits were rolling at the end, we got a phone call. I froze. My Dad went to answer the phone. I freaked, yelled at him to stop, and when he didn’t, I played the hero, ran past him and answered the phone with a very dramatic, “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM MY LIFE?!”

It was my grandmother.

And thus the paranoia began. Over the next 6 days I kept seeing things that reminded me of that horrible film. Here are some of those things:

  • After cleaning out the shower drain of all hair and gunk, it was inexplicably immediately full of lots of dark hair again. (Eh? eh? Samara in the well?)
  • Puddle of water in the hall outside my bedroom, not near any faucets or anything else that could explain it. And I’m pretty sure the dog didn’t pee there. (Random puddles of water…)
  • Screw sticking out of the wall with the sharp, pointy end at me. (In the video there’s a screw that pushes a fingernail off the finger.)
  • I went to a friend’s house to study for an AP exam. It was a very pretty, nicely furnished home, with plush carpets on the floors and sifrei kodesh lining the walls… and an ugly construction ladder sitting, for no seeming purpose, in the midst of it all. (The construction ladder in the video…)
  • I got 3 nosebleeds that week. (Yes, nosebleed are a sign in the film as well.)
  • A fly was hovering in front of my face for about 30 seconds – something that flies don’t do. (The fly that she plucked out of the TV screen…)
  • As I was channel surfing one evening, I ended up watching the preview for the next episode of Smallville, featuring a field full of dead horses. (Dead horses, crazy horse jumping off of boat only to get chopped up in the boat’s propeller…) (Ok, here’s the deal. I remember it being Smallville and dead horses, but I can find no record of an episode it like that aired at that time. It may have been a different TV show, or a rerun of an episode from season 1 of Smallville featuring dead cows, not horses.)
  • A girl in my class developed some pictures she had taken earlier. In one group picture I was the only one whose face was blurred and out of focus. (In photos taken of characters who are going to die, their faces are blurred.)

Ok, enough of that list. You get the point. A week later, when I was no longer sick, I went to school in the morning fully expecting to be dead by that night at the hand of some scary girl coming out of my TV or computer screen. Before davening started, a girl in my class (who had no idea that I had seen this movie or that I was expecting to die) ran over to me all hysterical and told me that she had a horrible nightmare the night before in which I died. At that point I accepted my dreadful fate and spent the rest of the day as an empty shell of a human being. According to my calculations, exactly 7 days, down to the minute, from the time the movie ended, I was supposed to die during drama club rehearsals. That would have been fine with me – to die surround by friends – except drama club was canceled that day, meaning that I’d be home, alone, when that unlucky hour would strike. But silly me did not take traffic into account. At the precise moment that I was supposed to die, I was on the George Washington Bridge in a school bus with a creepy, yet harmless bus driver, some friends, and some… acquaintances. Miracle of miracles, I survived the night, and the next night, and all the nights between then and now. Phew. (Although in a later post I’ll tell about the time that movie came back to haunt me.) And that was the last time I ever saw a horror movie. Now when I’m sick, I read Harry Potter.

Goosebumps: Choose Your Own Adventure

Well, it’s officially that time of the year again. The boots are out, the sad excuse for a winter coat is out, as are an interesting assortment of winter gloves and scarves. Unfortunately winter hats don’t like to fit over my mitpachat (AKA: tichel, shmata, head scarf), so instead I have my husband’s earmuffs. Yet still, the most classic way to determine if it is indeed that time of the year again is by how late I stay in my warm bed in the morning to procrastinate getting out from under my covers into the cold room. So, this post is dedicated to my favorite piece of furniture (my bed) and that wonderful activity that takes place there… dreaming!

I’ve had many a strange dream in my life and as I remember many of them, I can guarantee you that there will most definitely be more posts of this nature (enough for me to create a “Dreams” category). But what makes this particular dream worth posting about? Simple. It was a choose-your-own-adventure dream. How often does that happen?! Anyway, if I recall correctly, I dreamed part one of this dream in elementary school, somewhere around 5th-6th grade. Part two was dreamed a year or two later.

Part One:

The dream opens where I am running across a series of rooftops that look an awful lot like like the ancient Pueblo mud houses, similar to an early scene in “Aladdin” where he’s jumping from rooftop to rooftop to avoid being caught. In the case of my dream, however, I am not alone. I am traveling with my clan of about 20 nomads, and jumping from rooftop to rooftop is our mode of transportation. Anyway, we reach the edge of one building, stopping short as there is a large gap between there and the next building, too large to easily jump. But jump we must. Getting a running head start we all leap over the edge in slow motion, but the far rooftop is just that – a far rooftop. Now this far rooftop must have belonged to a nice Jewish family, because they had a brick wall around the roof. Mind you, not a very sturdy one though, because as we are all falling somewhat short in our leap of extraordinary proportions, we grab hold of the brick wall and dangle there on the side of the building for a few seconds before the wall crumbles and we all fall to the ground. I guess the leap wasn’t so extraordinary after all, because we only fell a few feet to the soft, dirt ground with no cries of pain more dramatic than a loud “Oof!” At any rate, we land at the entrance to a cave. With a lit torch (that came from where?) we enter the cave in an orderly manner. As one of the youngest clan members, I found myself somewhere in the middle of the line, protected on all sides. Except something feels wrong. As we move further into the cave I realize that something is picking off the stragglers from the back. Don’t ask me how, but I knew that the something was a minotaur – yes, from Greek mythology (most likely inspired by 5th of the “Hercules” telemovies that served as precursors to the “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” series, “Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur“). After slowly picking off those poor souls behind me, the minotaur begins to attack from the front. After the first man in line (presumably the clan leader) lets out a blood-curdling scream and drops the torch that immediately extinguishes upon contact with the dirt, the minotaur lets out a roar and all panic ensues. In each-man-for-himself style, we all run for the cave entrance, but with the minotaur behind us once again, we have no chance of making it. Alone, I ran towards the light coming in from the mouth of the cave. Of course, before I reach it I trip over a random tree root sticking up from the dirt, and fall to the ground with a louder “Oof!” than before. With my eyesight somewhat hazy, yet still seeing the light of the cave’s exit, a shadow falls over me and I feel the minotaur’s dank breath on the back of my neck. Naturally, before I could be devoured, I wake up. (As the film “Inception” so accurately(?) describes how one is not capable of dying in a dream. One simply wakes up.)

Part Two:

The dream opens the same way: jumping from rooftop to rooftop, leaping, grabbing the brick wall and falling to the ground at the entrance to a cave. This time, however, I know that there’s a minotaur in the cave and that if we enter we’ll all be devoured. I tell the other clan members, but they don’t take me seriously and enter the cave anyway. I stay outside, and sure enough a few minutes later I hear their screams and cries as one by one they are eaten. All alone and not knowing what to do, I start wandering down a narrow dirt path that starts right next to the cave. Time passes and I find the path cuts through a field with long grass. A ways off I see a person and call out. The person turns out to be a blond haired, young girl about my age who is carrying a yoke with buckets of water over her shoulders (like such). She offers me water and I tell her my story. Upon realizing that I’m all alone now, she invites me to return with her to her village. We get to her village (which kind of resembles Camp Moshava IO) and she shows me to her “bunk.” Her “bunk” has 3 steps leading up to the front door, which opens directly to a small and narrow room that is entirely occupied by a bunk bed with no space between it and the wall. She offers me the top bunk and I clamber up using the lower bed as a stepping stone. The next morning she takes me to their social hall where they promptly start davening. I don’t have a siddur on me, so the girl directs me to a table in the back with siddurim strewn across it. I try to find a Shilo siddur, as this was the only kind I was familiar with back in elementary school, but all I can find is a Shilo bencher (that doesn’t exist in the real world, to the best of my knowledge). After davening we sit down at round tables and breakfast is served to us. While we eat, a screen on one side of the room is lowered and we watch a film. The film is about an evil shape-shifter. Before I know it, the round table I am at is a round table at the cafe where the film’s protagonist (who looks like Neve Campbell) is also sitting at a nearby table reading a newspaper. All of a sudden the cafe’s front door blows open and the shape-shifter spins in like a tornado, Tazmanian Devil style, and with a cackle says, “You should be careful when there are sharp objects around.” Without warning, all the silverware on the tables and at the bar float up into the air and start flying at the protagonist. The shape-shifter cackles again and whirlwinds out the door leaving the cafe a total wreck. I peek over at where the protagonist was sitting, but she fell to the floor in the attack. Then, one bloody hand after the other, she pulls herself up to the table and we see that she is all cut up and bloody. The end.

My lesson was learned. I dreamed this dream no more, as this was a dream for which I no longer wanted to choose adventures, since they all end so horribly. But the real scare didn’t come until a few years later. I was channel surfing on TV and happened upon a preview for a film with a scene involving knives sent flying through the air by the bad guy. I quickly changed the channel, and to this day do not know which movie that was, although I have tried to find out. Someone told me that the original 1976 “Carrie” film had a scene that fits that description, but why would a film made in 1976 be previewing around the turn of the millennium? (By the way, the 2002 “Carrie” remake doesn’t have that scene, so it couldn’t have been that preview.) Anyone have any other suggestions?

I was once told that when you think up an idea, it’s then permanently out there in the world for the taking – that’s why many inventions are thought of around the same time all across the world (take the Rema and Rav Yosef Caro, for example). I’m not sure I really believe it, but at any rate it’s too bad I didn’t copyright my dream at the time. I could be rich now off of a horror film that I will never see.

PS. If the theory in the last paragraph is indeed true, then I am truly sorry for releasing these horrors into the world. My bad.