There is one place on this earth that I fear above all others. Yes, even more than the Loehmann’s dressing room. My parents’ basement.
Despite being easily frightened, I’m not scared that their basement is haunted (although I refused to go down there alone for a while after seeing The Blair Witch Project). I’ve been down there in the pitch dark many times and not been the least bit scared. My darkroom was down there, which never bothered me, and my brother and I used to play hide and seek in the dark in our basement with our friends.
Sounds harmless, right?
Yeah, that’s because you’ve never been down there.
The basement is divided into two halves. The first half, which you have to pass through to get to the back half, is finished. The carpet is a dingy brown, which was awesome because it was perfect for hiding the stains of the parties that my brother and I threw. We had a tv and sofa in that half, as well as a foosball table, a mini-pool table, and an air hockey table. That was where sleepovers were always held, and it was common knowledge that our family had the best basement in the history of mankind. Or at least in the history of basements.
But people only thought this because they never went into the back, unfinished half of the basement. And if they did, they certainly never found their way back out to tell about it.
I’m pretty sure that the back half of my parents’ basement is actually an experiment on my dad’s part to prove the Big Bang Theory. Because there is so much random crap packed so densely into the space, that if one more thing is put back there, it is going to explode and create a new universe.
|Yes, this is a real picture of the basement. Enjoy it now, because when my mom sees that I posted this, she’s going to murder me first, then take it down. It’s been nice knowing you…|
In theory, there’s a washing machine, a dryer, a full-sized refrigerator, a full-sized freezer, a ping pong table, a sink, and a full darkroom down there. I say in theory because no one has actually seen the ping pong table since 1988. It must still be down there, because I never saw anyone take it out of there (which happens to be the same method that Atticus Finch used to explain how he knew that Boo Radley was still alive… but it was sound logic then and it’s sound logic now), but I have little hard evidence that it still exists. It may have been sucked into the black hole that must reside down there. It’s the only way that much stuff could fit into one basement.
As small children, my brother and I weren’t supposed to go into the back half of the basement without supervision because no one EVER knew what we would find (or what creatures living down there would find us), which of course meant that it was our favorite place to explore.
Our mother was an art teacher before becoming a principal, so her corner of the basement contained art supplies galore, mixed in with rusty, uncovered exacto knife blades, jagged shards of glass, and wood splinters big enough to stake a vampire that had either once been part of the backings for canvasses or else part of Noah’s Ark (either way, the stuff down there originated around the same time period). She would also store art projects from students down there, as well as the ones that my brother and I created, so there was a giant paper mache Big Bird, and the life-sized paper mache mummy that my brother and I made one rainy day. In other words, by the time I was using the basement as a darkroom, there was a lot of SERIOUSLY creepy stuff peering at me from the shadows.
Like the coconut head.
|Note: this is not the REAL coconut head. The real one is MUCH scarier. But it “disappeared” in the mid ’90s. Which I officially had nothing to do with. Let’s just say it’s like Pauly in The Godfather–“you won’t see him no more.”|
My dad claims that it looked like his mother’s cousin. But all I know is that thing is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And it didn’t help that my dad and brother liked to hide it behind my darkroom supplies so I would suddenly see it in the red glow of the safelight when I was alone down there. Dad also liked to try and scare me by telling me that he didn’t buy it, it just showed up one day and that he didn’t pack it to bring it from our old house, but when we moved in, there it was. Then he put it in my bed one night, like the horse’s head from The Godfather.
I’m convinced that anything that gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle winds up in my parents’ basement, along with the answers to all government secrets. Wanna know what REALLY happened to JFK? I bet the answer is down there somewhere. Amelia Earhart? Yup, that’s where she wound up. The Ark of the Covenant? Indiana Jones didn’t really find it, because it’s probably sitting under the ping pong table, wherever that is. The really old knight from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? He lives under the basement stairs. My parents really should have gotten royalties for all of those movies. I don’t know when George Lucas was at my parents’ house, but I’m positive that’s where he got his inspiration.
In fact, when the Jews were wandering the desert for forty years, I bet they weren’t ACTUALLY in the desert, I’m pretty sure they were wandering in my parents’ basement. You could EASILY spend forty years down there without finding your way out.
Here’s what scares me the most about their basement though: when my parents die, it’s going to fall to me to clean that crap out. Because there’s no way my brother is going to do it. And it’s going to take at least six generations of my descendents to just sift through the top layer alone of stuff down there. So hopefully my dad’s experiment about the Big Bang will work out and destroy the universe before my parents die. Because if they die and leave me that basement to clean out, I’m going to find a way to resurrect them, just so I can kill them myself!
Because my dad firmly subscribes to the Homer Simpson school of thought that it’s okay to raise the dead, as long as the car is okay.