The Rotary Phone of Doom: My Top Five Scariest Things

Published on September 29th, 2010 in: Canadian Content, Halloween, Horror, Listicles, Staff Picks, Top Five Lists |

By Emily Carney

go eaglez

5. Recurring dreams about high school

I have had the same dream continually over the last few years. It’s about high school. Mind you, it’s not a bittersweet, Breakfast Club-style reminiscence; the dream involves me having to go BACK to high school after being informed not-so-politely BY MAIL that I had somehow “forgotten” to attain my high school diploma. The same thing happens in every damn dream: for some reason, I start skipping classes, I fail most of them, and thus I become trapped in high school, never being able to get out. Suddenly, the halcyon greenish-blue corridors of good old East Lake High school become a horror show on par with Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. By the way, I generally had a good high school experience in real life, so I have no idea where this dream is coming from.

I have attempted to “rewrite” this dream in my mind many times: one time, I went to a guidance counselor and yelled at her, asking how the hell could I have gotten a bachelor’s degree without my high school diploma, I was already a 32-year-old adult, etc. The absolute worst thing then usually happens. I have to go back to college, after being told I hadn’t finished my compulsory classes there. It’s like the film Groundhog Day, except that it combines three aspects that I have a complete terror of: institutionalized education, bureaucracy, and the 1990s. I can’t ever win.


4. Junked-out people in public

I work in the public, and unfortunately we have people who are high as a kite come in on a regular basis. This is because—in my fair state of Florida—we have a lot of unregulated “pain clinics” where “doctors” will basically give you a bag of junk (usually Oxycontins or Vicodins) for a very low price. While I like my job immensely, I have been in some freaky personal situations with people who aren’t quite. . . all there.

In the last month, I had some freaky looking dude follow me into a fitting room (we sell clothes, among other things). Keep in mind that it was late in the evening, dark outside, and I was all by myself in my department. “HEY GIRL,” he hissed in my left ear. It quickly got worse. I turned around, and this guy looked very unkempt, and pretty wasted. “Does your job bore you?” he asked. He then asked me if I was interested in doing porn. At this point, I ran out, terrified, and got my boss to kick him out. Just disgusting.

The latest “incident” involved an incredibly drunk, pilled-up dude asking me about my sex life in front of my manager, and speculating that I was sleeping with a male colleague. I have no idea what it is about drugs and drink which inspires people to act so damn creepy. Lucky for me, my work colleagues are great and always have my back.

rene levesque

3. René Lévesque’s comb over

René Lévesque, like Pierre Trudeau, was another Canadian politician who populated the pages of the World Book Encyclopedia in the 1970s. He also populated the pages of my imagination, having been a sort of hard-drinking, intelligent, rancorous guy who had a lot of ladies. I should provide some historical background into Monsieur Lévesque’s career, but screw it. What always took my breath away about René was his absolutely terrifying, extremely extensive comb over hairstyle. Really, as a young child, I had never seen anything like it.

This video from 1984 truly does justice to the entire Lévesque look. There he is with his white, greasy-ass comb over, dissing Pierre Trudeau, smoking about twenty cigarettes. Whenever I see this clip, I become scared that Lévesque’s gigantic wrap of hair is going to spontaneously combust either from his being a chain-smoker or just an extremely angry, short, French-Canadian dude. This clip is almost as bad as the infamous Michael Jackson Pepsi clip. It’s about what I see happening, and not about what really happened, if that makes any sense. DID YOU KNOW: René Lévesque eventually died of lung cancer in 1987? Bet you didn’t see that coming!

alligator at door

2. Alligators

Alligators are a very legitimate fear when living in Florida. In my old hometown, a clearly ravenous gator BROKE INTO a woman’s house and ate her cat (I guess the dog was smart enough—or motivated enough—to hide in a kitchen cabinet). I’d never heard of gators developing breaking and entering skills up until then; really, it boggles the mind! Ever since I saw that story on the eleven o’clock local TV news, my kitty Felix (the Swiss Cake roll of kitties, because he’s sweet and cute! Ugh, I know.) is NOT allowed to go outside.

Also, there is a massive gator who lives in the lake behind my apartment; often, he is seen sunning himself on the riverbank. He has a deceptively cute animal smile on his face, but I know he takes the cake in the reptilian “bringing the ruckus” department. The rumor mill has generated a few stories about the gator being seen in the company of other animals. . . which always end up in his stomach. Oh, dear.

rotary phone

1. Rotary phones

I am quite aware that this is the strangest thing to become anxious about, but the reader must understand from where I derive my fear. You see, I was in the US military for six years; on the aircraft carrier, all we had were 1960s-era rotary phones (the government is famously cheap).

Every time bad shit went down, the phone would ring incessantly in my living quarters. Most often than not, the phone was for me. I blame this on having not yet learned to say “no” to taking on ridiculous responsibilities. At one point, I think I had taken on at least five auxiliary jobs beyond my normal job expectations. It was incredibly crazy, sad, and stressful, and I don’t think I ever slept.

Anyhow, eventually I broke down physically (and mentally) because of never getting a damn break. It got to the point where the phone rang constantly. . . even when I was at home. To this day, I still have nightmares about being back on the aircraft carrier, and having the phone ring constantly. My anxiety became so severe that I rid myself of every analog and digital land-line in my house. And that, my friends, is why PTSD is a real occurrence in so many military members.

5 Responses to “The Rotary Phone of Doom: My Top Five Scariest Things”

  1. Adam McIntyre:
    September 29th, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    I sort of lived the first nightmare 🙂
    My guidance counselor informed me a couple weeks before graduation that I hadn’t taken a course required for college: Geometry. To this day, only a handful of graduates from my school have gone to college, which is how such a large subject slipped by unnoticed. I had to go to summer school after graduating and take both semesters at the same time in back-to-back classes.

  2. Popshifter:
    September 30th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Yeah, me three. I never had these kinds of dreams in high school or university/college, but I always have them now! Although, I did have a weirdly close call my junior year. I had taken an extra class in case one of my picks was closed to admission and assumed (stupidly) that I’d been dropped after I never attended.

    You know what they say about that word.

    Turned out it was still listed on my schedule and I had to get special permission from the English dept. to have it removed without incurring and incomplete and thus screwing up my GPA. Good times.


  3. James Maret:
    November 2nd, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I have been a retail pharmacist for years and have witnessed the stoning of Americans. It has been an ugly tragedy. You should have punched that guys lights out for creeping you! What amazes me to this day is people who bring in RXs after having left the MDs office !messed up! when the ‘MD’ examined them & wrote their RX cocktail of choice. Then we have to deal with them. We really love the folks who want specific color/shape junk. whew. We have nicknames for the junkies. stonies, zonies, phonies, vicodonies etc. Enjoyed your story!

  4. Popshifter » Les Oraliens, Or How I Found The Scariest YouTube Video Ever:
    June 19th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    […] I am more than familiar with what scares me the most in my real life; in my attempts to look for “scary” videos for this issue of Popshifter, I stumbled […]

  5. Enos Relim:
    October 20th, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    I have had nightmares of high school lots of times, including ones where I was till going and I kept telling the teachers that I graduated years ago and I was to old to be one! And I used to work at a grocery store and have met lots of customers who were stoned or crazy.

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