In my last post I alluded to some post traumatic stress in regard to my grandmother’s bedside reading of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” when I was a “young ‘un” and recuperating from some surgery. Grandma loved the English language – loved literature in general. She often said if she hadn’t chosen to be a nurse, she’d have been an English teacher. She’d’ve been a great one, if you ask me.
But anyway, after I came home from the hospital Grandma would come over and spend the day with me – taking turns with my other Gramma – while my Mom went to work. She knew I loved to read. I taught myself when I was 3 – btw, and got my parents in hot water when I demonstrated that fact in kindergarten… (“She’s not SUPPOSED to know how to do that yet Mr and Mrs Hoyt”! My Dad’s classic response was to ask – “So you want me to tell my daughter she’s not supposed to learn”? – with arched eyebrow for effect, of course. Sorry teach – Genie’s out da bottle, and Elvis has LEFT the building 😉 ) Grandma thought an introduction to classic American literature was in order – knowing that my reading level was junior high by that time. So she got me a Scholastic Press hardcover copy of “Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. ( I still have it and its in good shape in case anyone is wondering…) It came complete with lithograph-style prints. I think you know where I’m going with this… one of which scared the bejesus out of me at age 7, and continues to creep me out to this day.
But it wasn’t just the dang picture. It was the whole mothah-truckin story that got to me. Washington Irving can be difficult to embrace as a reader. But once you do – in this particular story anyway – you’re sucked in. In – to a world on the edge of magic and superstition. A world in the twilight. You’re a goner – hook, line, sinker. Now, Grandma read aloud for dramatic effect – and she was flippin great at it. So much so, that I didn’t sleep after the initial reading. My parents couldn’t figure out why I was waking up screaming in the middle of the night ; and I didn’t want to get Grandma into trouble, soooo….. I don’t think I’ve ever said a word about it until now.
Fast forward a few years – I’m now about 10. Right outside my bedroom window are the electric lines for the entire house. In a stiff breeze, they would bang against the side of the house, making a “clip-clop” sound like that of a horse. Depending on the wind-speed, this could be a nice walk, trot, canter or gallop. I woke up one night to a galloping sound – ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE the Headless Horseman was after me. Not fun – for me, or either of my parents, who had to calm down a hysterical pre-teen in the middle of the night. Then, there’s the Disney Cartoon….. “With a clip,clip and a clippety-clop – he’s out looking for a head to chop. You can’t reason with a headless man.” Thanks SO much for that, Walt!
REALLY appreciate all those lost hours of sleep….
Let’s move forward and on to Mr. Tim Burton, shall we? It’s now 1999. I’m a GROWN WOMAN, mother of two (like that makes a difference – lol) “Sleepy Hollow” with Johnny Depp is showing in theatres. I’m intrigued – can’t look away when the trailers come on TV…. (sort of like the “let’s slow down and look at the accident” syndrome) I awaken one night during this time after hearing a noise. I open my eyes to a blurry – seemingly headless – figure in my bedroom doorway. (I’m wicked near-sighted – jsyk). I scream and reach frantically to the other side of the bed where my husband is SUPPOSED to be… He’s NOT THERE…. I’m screaming for him at top volume…. I hear ….eventually…. “It’s me Hon, It’s me!”… My husband: the Nordic Headless Horseman…. who just got up to answer the call of nature, and ended up in my nightmare… ( I still haven’t lived this one down).
So I break down, and I go to see Tim Burton’s movie. Bad mistake, very bad. GREAT movie – bad for my psyche. I didn’t sleep well for 3 months afterward. Now, Tim Burton is one of those directors you either love or hate – like Quentin Tarantino love Tarantino also, ( and I always wonder if his mom was a Dark Shadows fan). Of course, we all love Tim Burton in this family – his mothers maiden name is the same as my married one 😉 – so I have “Sleepy Hollow” in the DVD collection. Can’t bring myself to watch it too often. Just at
Halloween… MAYBE…. Because inside, …… I’m still 7….. Thanks, Grandma!
- “The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow and Other Macabre Tales” by Washington Irving (zezee112.wordpress.com)