Ellis & Barnes: Serious Mothers!

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Am Massively Afraid of The Cowardly Lion.

"Hey, why the Daryl Hall picture?"

Well, it's the closest picture I could find of a man-lion without having to look up pictures of Burt Lahr as The Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz.

"HAHA! You're afraid of the Cowardly Lion?!"

Yes. And not just 'afraid', I'm afraid. The Cowardly Lion has been a closeted phobia of mine for pretty much all of my life.

It's something that started right out of the gate.
The Wizard of Oz was on T.V. tonight. I knew it would be. There I am; a forty year-old woman, nursing a sick four month old (her first cold) avoiding the TNT Channel while surfing up and down the dial just in case I happened to catch a glimpse of The Cowardly Lion in all of his shaky-voiced, manteeth glory. As a very young child in the age of a VCR-less world, The Wizard of Oz was an annual Main Event in our house. It was like the Thrilla in Manila for my sister and I. We'd be allowed to eat macaroni and cheese from T.V. trays. We sipped 7-UP in wineglasses followed by pudding. Wet hair, jammies, slippers and If I Only Had a Brain. It was very glamorous and proper indeed.

As much as I loved The Wizard of Oz, I also feared it. I recognized that this was a masterpiece made way ahead of its time. A viewing never went by without our mother saying: "Could you believe that this was made in 1939?" There is no question that the film did things that no other at the time would even think of attempting. Black and white, to sepia to Technicolor? And to think that when the film was released, it didn't do very well; probably because the audiences feared its mastery and progressive genius. It is a marvel filled with absolute beauty and darkness. It is a movie that I've come to avoid over time because not only does it make me bawl, but it has also always given me nightmares because of a fictional character who is afraid of everything.

I would sit next to my sister, enjoying the banter at the farm, the showdown with Miss Gulch over Toto, the visit to the travelling 'mystic' followed by the tornado, all the way up to where Dorothy meets her future friends, until after she, the Scarecrow and Tin Man link arms and ease on down the road to meet their next friend in need. This was the part where I always got a little sweaty or had to go to the bathroom.

What is it about The Cowardly Lion that frightens me so? It's that he looks like he's in mid-transformation. He's not quite a man and he's not quite a lion. His teeth are still human. It it the teeth then? Probably. I can't put my finger on it.

Maybe it's time for me to man up and post a picture:

GAH! GAH! GAH! GAH! JESUS! Oh no! This was a bad idea. Okay I am forcing myself to look at him. Alright, he's just a fictional manlion who has been dead for decades. But this means he's a ghost and can now haunt me. Oh no! Look at his people eyes... Breathe! Okay I'm looking into his eyes. GAD his mouth is freaking me out! This was a horrible attempt at desensitization. Now that he's a ghost, can sense my fear, and probably was in the room with me this whole time, he's going to wait until I'm half asleep to creep into our room and make this sound while looking like the picture above: "Nyyyyyynnnnggggggghhhh! I am going to make you touch my face! Nyyyyynnnnggggghhhh!"



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