Help! I’m trapped in an El Camino wearing a Clown Suit with Mimi Bobeck

If you have never had the…um…pleasure of experiencing a full-blown panic attack, consider yourself lucky.  When I was in my early twenties–back in the days before compact discs and Pantene–I used to have a lot of them.  I worked in a bank and had what was, perhaps, the strangest job description a financial institution has ever concocted.  In the morning, I adopted the role of bubbly receptionist with an Osmond Family grin.  In the afternoon, however, I kissed my sunny disposition adieu and put on my snarly collection officer hat.  Ironically, my desk didn’t change.  Just my persona.  

Mayor from The Nightmare Before Christmas

I wonder how many customers wandered away thinking, “that little redheaded girl must suffer from a multiple personality disorder.”  Note to self:  stay away from former place of employment and men who drive large white vans with padded interiors.  

Anywho, I blame the sudden appearance of my panic attacks on my unusual job duties.  And on the fact that I was still living among cockroaches.  And I had just been chased down the street by a man in an electric wheelchair.  But you already know about all of that.  

And they thought I was deranged...

And they thought I was deranged…

Amazingly, I was not the lone sufferer of high anxiety.  It turned out that the soft-spoken, seemingly “had her shit together” loans officer–we’ll call her Wilma.  I don’t know why–spent a great deal of her time fighting heart palpitations, dizziness, and an irrepressible desire to flee with her hands up in the air yelling gibberish.  

panic attack

In fact, she introduced me to a sure-fire way to fight the panic.  And it involved lying on the floor.  Now, my fear of being stepped on–particularly by someone wearing golfing cleats–precluded me from flopping spread-eagle on the linoleum beside my desk, aka the Jekyll and Hyde district.

giant cleat

Giant cleats…they DO exist.

 “Wilma,” however had a carpeted office with a functioning door.  Here, we could both lie on our backs, engage in deep-breathing exercises, and imagine our “happy places.”  Hers involved meadows, songbirds, and sunshine.  Mine was Times Square on a July afternoon–which could explain why meditation has never worked for me.

happy place

Thankfully, once I shed the job, the panic attacks–and the need to find a carpeted spot in a low-traffic area–disappeared.  As did my antacid addiction.  And my fear of mental health professionals.

While I have been panic attack-free for twenty years, there are a few things that could potentially tip me over the edge.   

1.  creepy clownClowns freak me out.  Personally, I think there is something seriously wrong with someone who spends their day in big floppy shoes, an afro wig, and lipstick that looks like it was put on by a far-sighted centenarian with a tremor.  

Personally, I have never understood why people flock to circuses.  And I always give Ronald McDonald statues a wide berth.  But no amount of Zoloft could quell the anxiety that sleeping on an actual “clown pillow” would create.  

Seriously.  There are people that actually make clown pillows.  And, there are sick, twisted, individuals with way too much disposable income who buy them.  

Here is a horrifying glimpse of the many innocent pillows that have been defaced by clowns.   

clown pillow handstitchedclown pillow cheshire cat grinclown pillow 5 oclock shadowclown pillow hole in headclown pillow impressionistclown pillow pom pom fringe

Which one would deprive you of the most zzz’s?  Which one is the least horrific?  


2.  This is a strange phobia, I know–especially for someone who loves cars as much as I do–but El Camino’s scare the crap out of me.  I don’t know why.  

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chevy’s version of the Ford Ranchero (another freak on wheels), it was basically a coupe with a truck box.  Yup, Dr. Frankenstein bred a Chevelle with a C1500 and this is the ugly baby.  

Forget the ’57 Fury.  Christine should have been an El Camino.  Definitely uglier.  And a whole lot scarier.  


3)  The ugliest toy known to man, without a doubt, is the troll doll.  Dolls, as you know, are high on my list of “things that freak me out,” but the worst of all are these rainbow-coloured freaks with bad hair and mongoloid monkey faces.  Their association with Mimi Bobeck does not help either.  She was just weird.  

Since I’m supposed to be regaling you with dendrite-enhancing knowledge, here are a few little known troll doll facts.  

It turns out that it is perfectly okay to refer to these plastic atrocities as “damn trolls” as you are not too far off the mark.  The first collectible troll dolls were created by the Dam family of Denmark in the ’50s and are officially known as “Dam Things.”  

The most collectible trolls are black trolls, 2-headed ones (yikes), those with real mohair, and ones that appear to be the result of an animal pairing.  

DreamWorks animation has acquired the film rights to the Damn Things troll dolls and, apparently, plans to use them in a feature film.  This would truly be a horror flick.

That’s enough about troll dolls.  I’m getting hives.   

What things freak you out?  

Photo credits:  Old folk on Rascals (, Panic attack (, Happy Place (, Giant Cleat (, “Go To Bed” (;clown pillows: handstitched (, Cheshire cat grin (, 5 o’clock shadow clown (, hole in head (, impressionist clown (, pompom fringe (; El Camino (, troll tattoo (

14 responses

  1. Clowns are THE most freakishly freaky things to have ever exsisted!!!! Well, that and dolls. I am getting anxious just thinking about a creepy, McCreepster Molly doll staring back at me through her creepy McCreepster Molly eyes, just peering into my soul! Eeek! But I have to admit. I collected Trolls as a youngster. In fact, I still have all of them and their colored hair and bejeweled belly button glory. I think I’ll pass on the tattoo though 😉

  2. The lady pulling her man on the rocking horse on wheels is so awesome that I feel if I saw that in person I would need to find a place to lay down so I could get myself under control from laughing too much. I am not afraid of clowns but even that clown pillow on the bottom with white pom-poms would freak me out. Seriously, what kind of sick person made that pillow????

    • It’s nice to know that when I reach old age, I can revert back to my childhood. I’m actually looking forward to it.
      And, about that pillow. I know, right? The thought of spending hours needle-pointing that freaky face would give me nightmares. And, I’m sure the pompoms don’t like having anything to do with it. If they weren’t “chain-ganged” together like common criminals, I’m sure they’d make a break for it.

  3. every clown but Le Clown and none of those pillows would give me a good night’s sleep; bad hygiene freaks me out; smelly men (and women) in line at the bank or even worse in a cafeteria; more than two hospital beds in a room at the hospital; ugly feet; ear wax and toe jam

    • Ew! Smelly people are the worst! Especially the kind that look like they buttered their heads. Speaking of which…do you remember Fleishman’s margarine. It was really yellow and looked like ear wax. Hate ear wax coloured margarine. Toe Jam! Ack. Imagine being trapped in an El Camino with a butter-headed, toe jam-toting, smelly person.

  4. Well, this isn’t MY freakout, but my sister’s, though it involves me tangentially. My darling, sweet, innocent baby sister, ten years my junior, is terrified, TERRIFIED, hide-behind-me-and-hyperventilate in sheer HORROR, of dwarves.

    Dwarves! I mean, clowns have an innate terrifying thing about them, with the facepainting and the make-the-kids-giggle objectives. But dwarves are harmless! The munchkins! Mini me! A chromosomal abnormality: NOT THEIR FAULT! And yet my sister, bless her heart, she cowers and can barely contain her shrieks. Effing embarrassing, if you happen to hang out in places where dwarves are around. Like, the world, sometimes.

    • As long as she doesn’t consider 4’11” as dwarfy, she and I will get along fine. Watching Cinderella and her 7 little friends must have been a treat. Although, I must confess that I wouldn’t follow Mini Me into a dark ally.

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