The Boogey Man: Who Is He And Why Is He Under My Bed?
It’s getting late. Your eyes are sore from staring at the flickering images that fly across the screen and the TV seems so loud, no matter how low the volume has been turned down. You click the TV off and make your usual rounds throughout the house: checking that the doors and windows are locked, the curtains pulled shut. Satisfied, you climb the stairs to the second floor and step into your dark bedroom. And you stop. Suddenly, as if an alarm blaring at lightning speed has raced up the staircase behind you, you remember the horror movie you watched earlier that day. And now you just cannot get the images of monsters and demons and psychotic hospital escapees from your mind. You flip on the hall light, so that your dark bedroom will make some sort of sense; so you can see the outline of the dresser, the form of the bed, but still…still, you cannot see what lies in the far reaches of the bedroom. That corner with what you think you remember is a pile of clothes…but, it doesn’t quite look like such an ordinary mundane thing now. And did that curtain just move, or was that my imagination? And, for heaven’s sake, what is that creaking noise?
The Boogey Man. He has many different names. He can be referred to as the Boogie Man, Bogie Man, Monster, Demon, Ghost, Fantasma, Bag Man…There are countless names in countless countries where one theme is held common through a puzzle of languages. The Boogey Man may not live under everyone’s bed, but to many people, he certainly lives somewhere in their mind.
Where Did The Boogey Man Come From?
Because the Boogey Man has been a nighttime terror for so long (we’re talking centuries), the origin of his initial plight is uncertain. However, some speculate the term (the naming of our universal monster) began in the 16th century, while others think it was created in the early nineteenth century. But, our fear of the Boogey Man coming into our room late at night could have started much earlier than that. Some speculate he took form initially in the Middle East, whereas others feel it was actually in Scotland. But, the fact remains, more than one child-even one adult-in practically any country know all too well who the Boogey Man is, no matter his name, his appearance, his torment. Bulgaria, Germany, India, Brazil, Quebec, Ukraine…The list goes on and on. However, wherever this monster of night first appeared, it is clear many nations share an idea of him.
Why Fear The NIght?
Because humans were first hunters and gatherers and lived in the wilderness much like animals, our instincts are heightened, sharper at night. That is, if something unfamiliar comes into contact with us. If humans notice a shape that’s not instantly familiar, a sound that is not immediately explainable, they instinctively fear it and are turned onto the defense. It is believed that this innate defense mechanism is what causes our guard to be up; hence, why our fears are strongest in the dark. Human beings are gauging the scene, protecting themselves. There is fear in the unknown. Animals, whether it is human or beast, instinctively assess a situation, testing to see if it is safe. We do this subconsciously most of the time. This defense mechanism is used more often than we think.
For example, you’re invited to a church barbeque, but no one in your family, none of your friends can make it. You feel especially pressured to go because you are the assistant to the music director and you know it is expected you be there to socialize and encourage more parishioners to join the church choir. However, the music director warned you he’d probably be late getting to the barbeque. So, you go to the barbeque and wander slowly from your car down over the hill to where the picnic has begun. You scan the faces, but recognize no one. Suddenly, you feel the few people who actually glance your way are looking you over and then turning away uninterested in whom you are. Your palms dampen and your temperature rises. But, then, you feel a slap on the back and turn to see it’s one of the kids from the children’s choir. Relief washes over you now that you see a familiar and friendly face. Even though this event happened with a group in which the assistant music director belonged (it was his church, for crying out loud!), it is still a plausible scene. There are extrovert people who may have found this scene as not a big deal as they naturally cope in situations like these. However, a great deal of people would find hesitation, even fear in this scene. This is an example of how perfectly normal humans could find fear in the unknown. True, there is a very low rate of anything untoward happening to the assistant music director at the church barbeque, but because his mind felt the weight of the unknown and he was unsure how to dissect it and run with it, his natural fear instincts were at work.
Dictionary.com defines imagination as: “The faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.” In other words, if the human mind cannot find the needed data within him to make sense of what an object is, why an object does something, his imagination enters the picture, filling in the necessary gaps. Experts find imagination is useful in learning. It enables a child to pull images of what he sees in the real world and bring them into practice: a child role-plays using his imagination. Because he does not know the intricacies an adult goes through daily (paying the bills, sitting at a desk job keying in numbers all day), he uses his imagination to bring what he deems as reality (Mom checking the mailbox, Mom saying goodbye and driving away in the car headed for what she calls “work”) to fruition. He doesn’t know Mom has worries as to how she will make enough money for groceries; he doesn’t know what Mom really does at this place called, “work”. So, he utilizes his imagination to play “work”, to play “mailman”.
The imagination is what is at work when a person is lying in bed late at night trying to make sense of what that misshapen lump is near the bedroom door. Was it there before? Did it just move? The mind is in overdrive, listing reasons and explanations as to what that lump is and what it is doing there. After the human mind spins through reasonable answers that just don’t fit the scene, it switches on its fear button.
Think, think, is it another pile of laundry you neglected to fold and put away? Is it a nightstand you pulled over to the door so you could vacuum near the bed? Is it that over-stuffed gigantic frog your daughter usually has sitting in her closet? Did she put that frog in your room…or, did the frog hop into your room? Finally, you can’t stop staring at the lump that you just know is creeping closer to you (Didn’t a man just escape prison earlier that evening? Could it be him?), so you suck in a deep breath, enlist in the power of your do-or-die instinct, and fling off the bed covers. You march over to the light switch and fwomp! The bedroom is filled with warm, welcoming beautiful light. Much too bright for this time at night, but you bathe in it. You jerk your head to the door and see the lump has resorted into its daytime self: the pile of laundry you neglected to fold and put away. Shame on you. But, you know what? It would have been something else if it hadn’t been the clothes. It very well could have been just the Boogey Man. Did something just shake the bed?
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