As children, we are all afraid of The Boogeyman. He hides under beds. In closets. In plain sight, camouflaged to jump out and ‘get you’ when you least expect it.
When we are older, we laugh at our younger selves and those fears. But wake up in the middle of the night, when shadows fill the room, a branch scratches the windowpanes, and you find yourself right back there. What’s that sound? Did that shadow move? It’s easy to freak ourselves out over nothing, all over again.
The boogeyman takes many forms, as Hollywood knows. It’s made billions off all of them. In the movie Fatal Attraction they made the other woman the boogeyman. Nothing is as scary to us as the unknown. And it’s easy to build things up in our minds. People become larger than life. Perhaps they may do us harm – reputationally or otherwise. But it’s not the reality – it’s the idea that gets us.
So Jeff and I were surprised while standing out by the barn on a sunny Saturday, when in through the open gate drove an old car. Nothing fancy, it parked on the lawn. We watched and we waited. Out stepped a short, balding older gentleman who walked slowly towards us. This is when Jeff and I both sort of panic. My español rolodex begins to spin.
‘Who is that?’ Jeff asked me, shading his eyes.
‘How do I know?’
‘You know everyone in town.’ He countered.
‘No I don’t.’
‘You know more people than me. I’m always working.’
This meant he expected me to take the lead with this unknown character. Hitching up my big girl español pants, I did my best. And it turns out – wait for it – <queue the scary music> Dun Dun Dun. Enter, The Scoundrel. Yes, that previously unknown dude who is <she whispers the dreaded word> d-i-v-o-r-c-e-d from the nice lady we bought our house from. The guy shacking up with the other woman in an apartment in the village. The scandal of scandals. I will admit, after talking with our roofer and learning the scoundrel lived in town with his lady friend, I would look at people and wonder if any of them was that couple.
He looked nothing like I thought he would. I had expected more George Hamilton, or Rico Suave, than an older version of George Castanza from Seinfeld. But he was just a regular older guy. No Don Juan. In fact, nice and shorter than me. He looked around, told us he used to live here. Went out to the barn with Jeff. He said he heard we were doing work on the place and he complimented us on our maintenance and upkeep. Then he departed, after shaking Jeff’s hand.
Jeff laughed after his car pulled away. ‘That guy is causing all the stir?’
It was my turn to laugh. ‘Maybe he’s a sexual dynamo. It’s a slow burn. He builds up to it after the Viagra kicks in. Maybe all the older gentlemen of the village fear his powers in the bedroom. They hide their wives. People always worry infidelity and divorce is contagious.’
‘Yeah.’ Said Jeff. ‘Maybe he get’s going after he’s had his lunch and a nap. That’s probably his peak performance time of day. Buenos tarde!’ He shook his head. ‘It’s crazy what passes for scandal here.’
So now that we’ve met the village boogeyman we can relax. He’s a very nice guy and not the looming shadow he was made out to be. Like most things, its never the reality. It’s how you build it up in your mind. Turns out there really is no village Boogeyman, after all.