the different ages of horror

Maynard Sims


Horror is in the eye of the beholder. Isn’t that right? Something like horror anyway. Perhaps it’s called fear where you come from; perhaps the resilient might think of it as unease. Or terror, fright, scary, call it what you will. When you are 15 there are a whole bunch of things that seem to conspire to make life as unpleasant as can be. By the time you get to a creakingly old 55 life can be just as tiresome, but for the same reasons? Many 15 year olds are fearless but full of terror. Many 55 year olds are terrifying but that’s a whole other story.

1. A 15 year old finds to his horror that his erection can sometimes feel permanent. In front of class to read his essay – wham. In the morning while eating breakfast with his parents – bam. Whenever a girl appears – thank you ma’am.
A 55 year old would love to feel his erection at all. Keeping it semi permanent is a constant fear. Terror at losing the plot mid sentence is a regular companion.
Same state of physical arousal but different perspective of horror.

2. A 15-year-old fears they will never have a boyfriend or girlfriend, never meet that special one. A 55-year-old wishes they had never had met…
The fear of being buried alive.

3. A 15 year old finds most things terrifying because every situation is new. A 55-year-old worries they will never find anything feels new again…ever.
The horror of everlasting life?

4. A 15 year old finds it horrifying that they might have to spend another 5 or more years learning stuff that they already find boring. They hate having to work at school and listen and pay attention.
A 55 year old is scared that they didn’t pay enough attention at school, and it’s too late now, and anyway, they could be dead in another 5 or more years.

5. A 15 year old finds war frightening, and poverty terrible, and inequality horrible, and they are going to do something about it.
A 55 year old finds war frightening, and poverty terrible, and inequality horrible, yet knows there is nothing they can do about it.

6. To a 15-year-old fan of horror there are endless possibilities for fictional horror. A walk alongside a misty river at dusk, a bare graffiti scarred urban street, a silent graveyard at midnight. Every situation seems to resonate with significance as the essence of horror stories lives inside every mood, every place they visit, every thought they have.
A 55-year-old fan of horror can just about remember the moods that used to evoke those feelings of dread. Nowadays there needs to be good characters, a plot, a storyline, and something new to get the juices flowing.
A vampire’s curse?

7. To a 15 year old any social situation holds unspoken horrors. My hair might be messed, my clothes might not be cool, I might not know what to say – I’ll definitely not know what to say. A social situation? I’ll spill my drink, get food in my teeth, insult people unwittingly, tell unsuitable jokes, be the only one not telling unsuitable jokes.
Actually a 55 year old feels pretty much the same – they just care less about it.
Haunting fears.

8. A 15 year old finds it terrifying when they have to say something, and they find it scary when they can’t think of anything to say.
At 55 you know it doesn’t really matter what you say as long as you say something, and only then do people realise you haven’t actually got anything to say.

9. At 15 you find your body horrible – too fat, thin, tall, short, hair too long, short, face spotty, pale, everything.
At 55 you think the same but with good reason.
Frankenstein lives…

10. At 15 you are scared of the first kiss, will you do it right, will they laugh. At 55 you’re scared that kiss might be your last, and will your partner find out…

If you’re 15 you can’t ever imagine being so old as to be 55.
If you’re 55 you can barely remember what it was like to be 15.

Two ages, one horror.

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