share your scare, says lifecruiser. a propos hallowe’en, she’s collecting stories about bloggers’ biggest scares. here’s mine.

okay, this was quite a few years ago. i had just facilitated an incredibly exhausting focus group at the carnegie centre (everyone who knows the carnegie centre will immediately nod, “yes, that would be exhausting”).

that afternoon, my daughter’s internet boyfriend was supposed to have arrived from utah. but it turned out that he was held up at immigration. he hadn’t brought a passport and somehow the immigration officers found his goth outfit, his cat contact lenses, and the vampire teeth and cape in his suitcase … um … “interesting”. the fact that he happily volunteered the reason for his visit – to finally meet face-to-face his under-18 girlfriend whom he had met on the internet – did not decrease their … um … “interest” in him. scary cat-eye vampire

so i trekked out to the airport and unchained the poor guy from the immigration officers. he seemed a nice enough young man; we all had already talked to him on the phone, and in person he seemed fine, too.

my daughter had selected a cosy little B&B for him to stay, and we drove him there. we had decided on that together. she could spend the days and evenings with him but on no account was she to stay the night with him. also, by having him somewhere else, if he turned out to be a nasty person face-to-face, she (and we) could easily stay away from him.

so everything was ok.

except the next morning when i woke up, my daughter wasn’t home.

that was the biggest scare of my life. within a split second, all the horror stories of internet predators came home to roost with me, and roost they did. my brain turned to complete mush, i was so filled with fear, i couldn’t even talk.

how could i have been so naïve to think that just by talking to someone for a little while, i could measure whether he was a good person? how could i disregard all the warnings about internet predators? how could i dismiss the misgivings of the immigration people who after all have a nose for the “wrong” people? oh god, maybe my daughter was already somewhere in toronto, being sold to a white slave trader, oh god, maybe worse?

all these thoughts went through my head, only not, by any stretch of the imagination, in such an articulate manner. it was like a wet, heavy bundle of fear and recrimination thundering through my mind, destroying everything in its wake like a hurricane down in florida.

after a few minutes, i managed to find the address of the B&B where this young man was staying and to convey to my husband that we needed to phone them. i couldn’t do it, i could hardly communicate with my husband.

he phoned. no answer.

my fear went into overdrive. to this day i remember how my whole body felt like jello. not the nice jello that you get in a restaurant but the clumpy, cellulite-looking stuff out on the kitchen counter after a horde of kids have attacked it and left it there for 3 hours.

my husband packed me in the car and we drove over to the place. we rang the doorbell.

once. twice. no answer.

was this really the right place? come to think of it, it did look a little old and spooky, didn’t it?

finally, someone came to the door. i managed to ask whether someone by the name of so-and-so was there. “oh yes, he’s having breakfast, and his girlfriend is there, too!”

at first, i didn’t comprehend. girlfriend? this horrible white slave trader is here with his girlfriend when he’s supposed to be here to visit …

oh. girlfriend.

apparently the girlfriend had heard me at the door. she came out.

“mom, what are you doing here?”

my husband explained that we hadn’t found her in her room and had become “a little worried” (he’s the master of the understatement). i just stood there.

you see, driven by her romantic hormones in her wisdom, she had decided to visit the young man after everyone else had gone to bed and to stay over because “it was unsafe to come home by bus”.

that’s the story of my biggest scare. maybe if i hadn’t already been exhausted by work the day before and a little spooked by the dramatic arrival at the airport, this wouldn’t’ have affected me so much. it’s not as if i hadn’t had scarier things happen. but there you have it.

the young man turned out to be A-OK, he went back to utah, they split up, they’re still friends.

and it wasn’t his cat-eyes and vampire fangs that gave me the biggest scare of my life. it was just my own mother-fear.

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