I live in constant fear that me and all of my friends and family were going to die in my very immediate future. I’ve probably spent the last 8 years of my life wondering how I would ever get over the death of my perfectly healthy best friend. I’ve wondered how I would ever forgive myself at my mother’s wake (inevitably a closed-casket ceremony due to how many cars ran over her head ) because I once told her, when I was an angry teenager, that I wished she would get into a car accident and it has haunted me ever since. I’ve had daymares that involve me waking up to an empty house, my entire family murdered. When I call the cops, they arrest me and now not only do I have to deal with the murder of my family, I have to be in jail too. I wouldn’t be okay in jail! Sometimes being locked in a room with nothing but a book and a TV (I think murderers can get TVs?) sounds kind of amazing, but I’ve seen enough prison documentaries to know that racial alliances are created, lots of fights happen and sometimes people shiv you just because. I can’t deal with any of that.
I don’t know why my brain chooses to go down these murdery paths instead of daydreaming about making out with Michael Fassbender like any other normal 20-something, but I have a few guesses.
- Law and Order: SVU. I’ve watched every single episode of SVU up until Christopher Meloni left. I spent 2008 – 2010 watching an episode almost every night before I went to bed. Unsurprisingly, I had countless nightmares about getting raped and murdered. I’m now afraid to ever move to New York City, because that show has taught me that your sexual harassment in NYC is not a possibility, but an inevitability. Rapists are real, but do you know what isn’t real? The Patron Saint of Saving Women and Children, Detective Elliot Stabler.
- Stranger Danger in Elementary School. Every school year, two women would come into my elementary school classroom to talk to fresh-faced, shiny, happy, bright, suburban youths. They would then ruin all of that and turn them into fearful creatures who silently leer at elderly women who pat them on the head or young men who ask for a high five. Stranger Danger lessons not only make children fearful of white, unmarked vans, but everyone who dares to smile at you. Everyone turns into a suspect. A murdery, murdery suspect.
- My mother. My mother is perhaps the most likely source of all of my death-based anxiety. I can still hear her screeching at me to get out of the road when I was a child, even though I was a dozen feet from the very quiet street. The main reason I blame my fear of murder on her is perhaps due to the fact that she once told me I was almost kidnapped. It was all a lie to make sure I never got lost in a Marshall’s store again. I was 7 years old and distracted by the small book section. I heard her frantically calling my name, so I meandered on over to her. “Caragh,” she looked at me seriously. “There was a man following you. You were going to get kidnapped. This is why you can’t leave my side.” I looked up at her and blinked. I couldn’t believe a man had been following me and I didn’t even see him. Stranger Danger was right! It took me until I was about 18 to realize that I didn’t see the man following me because there was no man following me. I should’ve realized that then when, instead of going to the police to report a pedophile on the premise, my mother went back to looking at shirts on clearance.