Today we are digging out of a blizzard. We’re talking a full-out, crazy-ass blizzard that makes the snowstorm in The Shining look like light flurries. In my book, that movie is pretty much one of the creepiest movies of all time. Those twins, the guy in the dog costume, “Red Rum”…it all just bothers me. Almost as much as high school boys with moustaches. Let’s just say those guys are never getting babysitting jobs. Oh, and rat-tails. However…I am equally skeezed out by something else: Little kids with thick southern accents.
Lately, thanks to Toys ‘R Us commercials, I get to listen to some twelve-year-old southern boy do a mock news report about the hottest toys. That southern accent just opens the floodgates for all kinds of creepy memories, including this initial incident (to use a fab literary term) which inevitably gave me this phobia.
The year was around 1996. A friend and I had just gotten home from a night of barhopping in illustrious Green Bay, Wisconsin. While having our late-night munchies, we stumbled upon a documentary about children’s beauty pageants. Now you have to remember, this was long before Toddlers and Tiaras. Needless to say, we were mesmerized. We sat there devouring our Doritos in utter shocked silence. Except for one part, when we basically wanted to run screaming from the room. We then had to watch The Shining, just to calm us down.
I remember the documentary featured two little girls who had clearly run into each other on the pageant circuit many times before. The underdog, named “Asia” had a perpetually frustrated mother whose sole ambition was to beat out this other little gorgeous and privileged girl. I can’t remember her name, but let’s call her “Tanqueray”. It was basically the Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan scenario of children’s beauty pageants, where you had the talented-but-poor girl versus the perfect, wealthy princess. I had to admit, I was rooting for Asia since Tanqueray clearly had the advantage of good breeding and loads of cash. But there was another reason why I could not root for little Tanquie: her pure creepiness.
At one point during the documentary, the crew decided to interview her after a particularly grueling dance rehearsal. I could tell the producers were probably hoping she would crack and admit to them that she hated the pageants and her mom and the whole deal. Instead, this is what happened:
Now you have to picture this girl first. She was a Jon Benet lookalike, which meant that she looked like one of those possessed dolls you’d find in any movie with the word “Chucky” in it. The narrator simply asked Tanqueray what she liked best about pageants.
Cut to T., who then mechanically moves her head like a doll in a Poltergeist-infested bedroom.
She looks into the camera before drawing out her answer for about five seconds, even though she only spoke two words. The two southern accent-laced words that will be forever etched in my brain.
I rest my case.
Author’s Note: This post is dedicated to my friend Becky Roever, who was equally scarred by this event. She is almost as afraid of kids with southern accents as she is of birds. And sorry about booking us a hotel room at The Flamingo that one time. I forgot they had a bird sanctuary.