I think it’s way past time for me to give a bellowing shout-out to one of the greatest ’80s movies of all time.  Do you know it?  Do you love it?  (Of course you know it.  Of course you love it.)

I remember watching this movie in the theater when I was in the fifth grade, then coming home and singing “Now I gotta cut looose!” as I jumped off the back of my dad’s pickup, kicking up my white sneakered heels before landing on the ground in the prone position.  From here I’d roll directly into a driveway somersault and finish with my hands spread magnanimously to an imagined audience, a la Willard at the end of his triumphant learning-to-dance scene on the farm.

Do you remember it?  Do you love it?

A quick aside before I explain what Footloose has to do with Dracula: Many years after my front-yard dancing, I watched this movie on video and could not believe it had been such a tightly woven thread in the fabric of my ten-year old mind.  I would never let my kids watch it today.  Terrible language.  Terrible morals.  Tons of smoking and drinking.  Parents were idiots, religion was idiotic, teenagers knew best.  Bad messages, all.  But–I said it then and I’ll say it now–it was so geeood!  Who could resist?  Even a ten-year old girl appreciates Ren dragging on a cig by the side of his VW, frustrated by the aging imbeciles seeking to opress him.  I could fully relate:  my parents wouldn’t even let me quit my paper route.

Okay. So in one of the movie’s best scenes, Ren is hauling wheat (?) in the factory when Ariel walks up to him, bends her long cowboy-booted leg to rest on his stack of bags, and dares him to meet her boyfriend, Chuck, on “his daddy’s farm.”  In a fashion we’ve come to expect at this point in the film, Ren never loses his cool.

Ren:  “And what if I don’t show up?”

Ariel:  “People will know you’re skeered.”  This is how she pronounces it.  Skeered, not scared.  “Anyway, Chuck will find you.  You want that?”  She then whips around in her skinniest-of-all skinny jeans and struts away.  Oh, how I wanted to be Lori Singer! (Still do.) (I’ll bet she’s nice.)

So my sisters and I decided, roughly three decades ago, that skeered was the word we would use when we were super-duper-scared, not just light- or medium-scared.  It worked.  And it stuck.  Skeered has been and ever will be the Christensen Female’s all-purpose go-to word to enhance one’s expression of any extreme anxiety or terror.  (In my family, instead of expanding our vocabularies, we quote movies.  This saves us a lot of trouble.)  For example:

Age 11:  “I’m skeered to wear these gym clothes Mom sewed for me to PE!”  Turns out this fear was justified.  Middle schoolers are not known for showing mercy.

Age 14:  “I’m skeered that when Doug finds out I stole another one of his enormous, block-print sweaters from The Bon to wear over my stretch pants, he won’t drive us to the stake dance this weekend!”  For those of you unaware, Doug is my older brother by four years.  He was an eighteen year old boy, I was a fourteen year old girl and yes, I was stealing his winterwear.  The sweaters were baggy on him, so you can imagine how flattering they were on my prepubescent frame, especially over light-blue stretch pants and bunchy yellow socks.  (Where, for the love, was my mother??)

Age 2o:  “I’m skeered of my new roommate!  She: cooks stinky food/leaves gobs of hair in the tub/has a boyfriend from home who looks like “The Fly”/sleeps all day every day/swears that Beauty and the Beast (Disney version) is her favorite movie of all time!”  (Pick one.  I had them all.)

Age 27:  “I’m skeered to eat these mussels!”  One evening in our early married life I steamed fresh mussels and served them over linguini in an attempt to dignify yet another home-cooked meal.  It looked so elegant in the magazine.  I followed the recipe to a tee and watched in horror as the mussel shells opened up slowly…ever so slowly…hissing out angry steam along with the smell of a tuna-glazed gym sock.  Derrick, who was famously generous with his praise for me in the kitchen, stood quietly behind me and watched the unveiling.  He then rested his chin on my shoulder and softly whimpered in my ear…”I’m skeered!”  (Turns out this fear was justified, too.  They were Nast-O.)

Age 37:  “I’m skeered to finish Dracula!”  At the suggestion of a few friends, I am ringing in the Halloween season this fall by reading the greatest goth horror book of all time.  (Nice way to sidestep the darker side of the holiday, don’t you think?)  At first I looked forward to reading this novel, figuring it would be old and hoaky; scary “for its day.” At the very least, I thought, I’d finally get a glimpse of a genre I had heretofore avoided, and thus broaden my understanding of nineteenth century literature as a whole.  It would be an interesting little read, I thought.



Seventy-five pages into it, and I am terrified.  Terrified.  It’s sitting over there in the living room right now, on the little table by the couch, the dark face on the cover staring up at me with those horrible red eyes.  I’ll admit that I’m curious–intrigued, evenby this book.  The writing is fabulous.  I want to know what happens next.  I want to know if he makes it out alive.  There’s just one problem:  I’m skeered!

Which is why I’m writing a blog about Footloose tonight instead of reading Dracula, like I’d planned to.  I don’t want to fall asleep and dream about the Count in the creepy castle.  I want to dream about Ren: kissing Ariel after she gives him the music box, beating up Chuck outside the dance hall, rendering the Reverend speechless at the town meetin’ when he quotes scripture to make his case for dancing.  (Don’t tell me this movie’s not deep.)

In fact, now that I’ve thought about it, Footloose is a classic in a genre all its own. (We’ll call it Crappy Trash that Molded the Young Minds of Generation X.)  So the way I see it, if I’ve studied this particular genre in all its varieties, why trouble myself with a genre that includes the likes of Dracula?  A genre’s a genre; that’s all I’m sayin’.  Brahm Stoker vs. Kevin Bacon?  We’ll call it sixes.  And at least Kevin won’t leave me skeered.

19 thoughts on “Skeered of Dracula

  1. You DO know that they are doing a remake of Footloose, right?! Unfortunately…the High School Musical heartthrob turned down the role, and they’ve cast a “nobody” (for now!) as Ren!

  2. I am laughing so hard at these comments I don’t know know where to begin. I know this is a major blogging faux pas, but please indulge me while I respond to them all:

    Sarah–I had a paper route w/Julie when we lived on Dayton. We each made $30/month and thought we were rich. How did we never do it together? And this post really was dedicated to you–you were jumping off the back of that truck with me! (Don’t let her deny it, people.) I clearly remember sitting in your living room, listening to the FL soundtrack you’d bought w/your own paper route money. Your mom totally sang along to all the songs. Bless her.

    Lora–my mom sewed my p.e. clothes b/c, apparently, she did not love me. Back then you could check out the school’s clothes or bring your own, and if you could have seen the army green short-shorts the school provided, you would understand why I opted for homemade. She made me gray sweatpants with a purple piping stripe down the side that were right out of “I Dream of Jeannie.” This is when girls were wearing pegged sweats and pushing them halfway up their calves, which was an impossible feat with the yards and yards of fleece on my own pants. (I was also in the “Enrichment” program at school. You do the math on how popular I was.)

    Danelle–Salt ‘n Pepa? Cheerleading? We ARE kindred spirits! Did you ever do one to “Cold-Hearted Snake?” We need to get together and jam, for our children’s sake.

    Amy–I’m sorry about the popcorn (that made me laugh, hearing how you laughed.) But I think I WILL need you to tell me how it ends–I still can’t bring myself past page 80!

    Melissa–I loved SJP, too (not so much now.) And I’m a total closet “Mystic Pizza” fan–why did Julia have to go and get so skinny on us afterward?

    Lisa–I wish I could tell you how it ends, but I don’t think I’ll be getting there.

    Sheryl–3 comments in 3 days? I’m touched. I guess bullying people into leaving comments works. I am not so touched that you didn’t love Footloose, though…where is your appreciation for the finer things?? (Esp. when that fine thing is dancing in tight faded jeans?)

    Allison–who is Zak Bagan? Sceerier than the count? Really? I better stay away.

    Kerri–hope you don’t mind, but I was thinking of centering my entire reunion write-up around you…what do you think??? 🙂

    Jen–I would give Ren my last cigarette to see “Footloose” on stage. Lucky! And did your little honey wear the same smokin’ tight clothes that Kevin Bacon wore? No wonder you were crushin’.

    Lisa E–How about if we wuss out together? I seriously don’t think I can get through it. It’s not a moral position. I really am just that lame. Oh, and didn’t you know that the more bulky knit fabric you put over your hip/thigh area, the skinnier you look? Yeah, we were really onto something back then…

    Matt–“Lori Singer kicks puppies?” I refuse to believe it. You’re just being mean.

  3. I am laughing out loud. FOOTLOOSE… Oh the memories. I could go on about that one for a while. Love that flick. Plus the house I spent 12 years living in is very near the tractor scene- you can almost see it! The excitement of that was unbeatable back in the day.

    I have not started Dracula yet. I need a copy. I admit I’m kind of avoiding it because I’m skeeered too. I read at night, when the vampires in my imagination sort of run wild. Skeeery. Almost as skeeery as tight, pink, paisley stirrup leggings fashionably covered to mid thigh with a v-neck forest green sweater vest (at least 4 sizes too big) under which I wore a mock turtle. And don’t forget the cute bunchy socks. Can you say HOT FASHION? Cuz I can. Middle school was the bomb.

  4. We saw Footloose as a play and it was SOOOO fantastically wonderful. They cut out some of the smoking, swearing, etc and the guy who played Ren–I had a serious, Cliff R. crush going on with that guy. It took me months to get over it.
    Dracula?? Um…my tolerance for scary is quite, quite low. I would have to pass on that. Too skeeeery. (Do you like how I used skeered in another form)

  5. Since I am so much older than the rest of you younguns – footloose came out after my teen years so i did not get into it the way you others did. I watched it once a few years ago but, dare I say it, was not too impressed. As for reading Dracula never have had the desire. Jenn keep on writing (now that is 3 comments in the last 3 days)

  6. p.s. I really, really liked Sarah Jessica Parker in Footloose. It’s kind of fun to remember that first time I noticed her and then look at where she is now. I had that experience with Julia Roberts in Mystic Pizza. I just remember thinking, “Who IS that girl??”

  7. LOVED Footloose. LOVE that you posted about it! I wanted to be Lori S. too. I haven’t seen it in ages and will probably be surprised by the content when I look at it through a parent’s eyes. I have not read Dracula. Almost bought it, then didn’t. My friend has a copy that I can borrow at any time. But since I do my reading late at night, when its dark, and everyone is asleep…I may not read it. You have me sufficiently skeered.:D

  8. I just laughed so hard that I snorted popcorn, which I didn’t even think was physically possible! Jen, I’m skeered of it too. However, I am also completely sucked into the creepy, eery, what’s going to happen next vibe! Don’t worry, we’ll tell you how it ends!

  9. I have to enumerate my comments in order to not deviate or leave one out.

    1) I can totally see Megan reenacting Footloose thinking she was so cool doing the “pickup kick up”.

    2) I love your mom, but why was she sewing your gym shorts? I’m confused. Didn’t the school provide some germ encrusted pair of shorts that were two sizes too big or five sizes too small?

    3) Where do you even buy mussels?

    4)I need to START Dracula!

  10. I am so with you on Footloose, my older sister had the soundtrack (vinyl album!) and would blast it throughout the house. “Let’s heeeear it for the boy-ie” has been sung in our house so many times (when one of our boys does something cool) they were astonished when they finally saw it on the movie one Saturday…I think they figured it was something their weird mother made up along with spontaneously busting out her cheerleading routine to ‘push-it’ by Salt-n-Pepa. When it comes on some random channel on cable TV, Tim and I simply cannot bring ourselves to turn away, we drop what we’re doing and sit transfixed by Footloose while our boys laugh at it. I get kind of embarrassed thinking how absolutely cool I thought the final dance scene was now though 🙂

    Dracula is scaring the crud out of me too! That’s why THE LAST LECTURE has been chosen as my ‘chaser book’

  11. I have so much to say about this post and I have just a second to write before the house erupts in choral whining…

    You KNOW I love Footloose. But how do you remember the characters’ names so well? And every scene verbatim? Have you seen it recently? Or are you really THAT good?

    You had a paper route? How self-absorbed I was back then!! In my mind, I was treating you with a sort of novelty by letting you help with MY paper route. In your swimsuit.

    I can’t watch skeery movies, read skeery books. They are unnerving and I just don’t enjoy that genre. Even “Lost” was too much at times. I’m a wimp.

  12. I read the majority of Dracula and was thoroughly enjoying it, and then nursing school started. end of story. please tell me who survives when you finish reading it, because i have to admit i still wonder about it, especially this time of year.

  13. My brother used to live in Lehi (where they did a lot of the filming) and the old mill house is still there.

Comments are now closed.