Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Tea" for Terrifying

When I was a little girl, my room in our old house had a connecting door to the attic in my closet. It wasn’t a typical attic though, for it was turned into something of a usable space. It had a floor to walk on and a large scrap piece of carpet on top of that. I had a make shift play room in there, with a miniature kitchen and tea play set, and all my stuff animals that weren’t already in my room. It was fine to play in there during the day, when the sunlight came in through the small window at the end of the space. But at night it was just pitch darkness. Worse than that, the attic had two rooms, though you couldn’t access more than the main one. You could see the mock doorway, comprised simply of a big black hole cut through on one slanted wall. There was an ocean of insulation between the edge of the play room floor and that hole, and my mother told my brothers and me that we would fall through the ceiling if we walked of the pink stuff. So we never got close, never got a good look. It was just this big, black, gaping hole that no light ever came through. Understandably I was scared of it. I am pretty sure my elder brothers were scared of it too. Sure there have been times where one of us would turn the lights off, so conveniently located next to the door, and bolt out of the attic while the other fumbled and scrambled to get out of there too. But we never locked each other in there.

(The hole is on the left hand side, out of this picture. Yes....this is truly my old attic.)

We could have. When I was young, I must have complained to my parents for they had installed a crude latch in my closet that would fall over the door to keep it shut. I would make sure that latch was close before I went to bed. I would make sure all my clothes were pushed up against that door, before I went to bed. And I would make sure my closet was closed firmly shut before I went to bed. The problem is that we had cats. They loved to go exploring in there, through the tunnels under the floor and over the insulation they were too light to fall through. And when it was time for me to go to bed, sometimes they’d run and hide in there too.

Now picture this, if you please. There I was, a little girl, asleep despite my fear. Woe to me if I had forgotten to close the latch while the cats were in there.
They would slink out of the attic during the dead of night. They’d softly push the attic door open, and the sudden change in the air pressure would make the closing of the door a soft boom. I would be startled wide awake, wondering if something had just come out of the attic. The cats would start scratching on my closet door to be let out -- a soft, scratch-scratch-scratch. When the door isn’t opened for them, they would slowly push the creaky closet open. If I was brave and looked over, I’d see two lamp lit eyes, peering at me from the darkness. If I wasn’t, and I hid under the covers, they’d patter softly on the carpet and jump up onto the bed right near my head, and wait.

Eventually they’d meow or purr or I would risk a peek and see my little kitty there. But believe me when I say that this used to be a part of my childhood and I never got used to it. Thankfully it didn’t happen often as I very rarely forgot to leave the latch unlocked. If the latch was locked, and the cats were stuck in there, they’d meow and scratch the door. Now the door had foam insulation on the inside to keep cold and, incidentally, sound from seeping into my room. That foam kept the sound of their cries coming through, but not the scratch-scratch-scratch of their claws. So I would awake to hear muffled scratching in my closet, and well, I’d go get a parent to take care of that.
So, you would understand if I told you that even now I make sure the door to my now attic-free closet is closed at night. Maybe you’d also understand if I told you I have an over active imagination when it comes to scary things, and I simply don’t deal well with it.
Yep, I am a big chicken.

The most obvious example of this would be the Hollywood scary movie. I have been known to watch a scary movie, and have nightmares for weeks. I’ve been sure a hungry T-Rex would look into my bedroom window from the street, despite it have gone back to the island in Jurassic Park 2. For days I was fanatic about not letting my feet touch the ground outside, sure it would attract a creature from Tremors. And I’ve abandoned a slumber party feigning ill because they were watching 13 Ghosts.
They don’t even have to be that scary, or really of any good quality to scare me. I can’t even read it in books – I found that out after reading a bit of Cujo and stayed awake for most of the night, sure there was something in my closet. Of course this makes me feel like a wimp, and every Halloween I attempt to watch scary movies to redeem myself.
It never ends well.

So this year I have a weapon to use against all the things that go bump in the night. Or at least, the things that go bump on the TV during the month of October, Celestial Seasons Tension Tamer Tea.

Though not considered an actual tea as it is missing the plant “Camellia Sensis” I will use the term herbal tea, because that’s what is written on the box. This is also pretty much the only herbal tea I drink, and I make sure there is always a stash of it somewhere in the back of the cupboard. I am also sure it would be the only drink my cat would like to drink as catnip is an ingredient. That and Eleuthero, peppermint, cinnamon, ginger, chamomile, West Indian lemongrass, liquorice, tilia flowers and lemon flavouring. This is a drink you could, but wouldn’t want to add milk to, but sugar is okay. Honey wouldn’t be all that bad of an alternative either.
Now, I don’t know how much it actually helps calm me down, but drinking tea in itself is rather restive. Perhaps the calm is a mental thing. Anyhow, I will be drinking a lot of this tea during the slow countdown to Halloween.

You can find Tension Tamer in any grocery store all year long, or online, but you might just need it this month.

Meanwhile, do you have any horror childhood stories to share? Or maybe some calming black teas that you know about? Let me know in the comments!


  1. So that's the full story of why even now you need to close the closet before going to sleep?

    It's funny, I would have thought it would be awesome to have cats coming out of the closet in the middle of the night.

  2. Blerg! I accidentally hit the back button and lost my whole comment. Here I go again!

    First of all, I LOVE this post! I too had the access door to the attic in my room.

    Unfortunately, mine wasn't insulated properly OR properly mounted to the wall. The best way to describe it was it was a square of wall that was cut out and then fitted with a handle and put back in place. Almost like a puzzle piece.

    On blustery nights the wind would whistle through the cracks around the "door". This, to me, sounded like the moaning of some unruly ghost. On the worst of the windy nights, the door (no joke) would FLY OFF INTO MY ROOM, exposing my poor child-self to the undoubted horrors that lay in the black void beyond my bed.

    I used to have nightmares that a dismembered hand crawled out of my attic and sat at the end of my bed, waving at me. Pretty tame as nightmares go, but I have to say that right up until I moved out, I was afraid of that creepy little door.

    When I visit my parents I still make sure to push something up in front of the attic door to make sure it doesn't "blow open" in the middle of the night.

    ALSO. This tea sounds delightful! Although, I'm always hesitant of liquorice teas as I feel like they always overwhelm the other flavours. Is this the case for this cuppa?


  3. I do remember that attic. That hole in the attic was pretty unnerving. If there was ever something watching us from the other side, we sure as heck would never know. Yet unconsciously we'd try to repress that thought from entering our mind. {{Spoooky}}

  4. All there was on that other side of the attic through that hole was part of the roof above the kitchen. and the only thing that ever lived in there was a solitaire black and white solitaire Mason bee. You sure didn't mind running up in there to warm up when coming out of the pool. Ahhhhhhhhhh, it was so nice and hot in there. But then I would find dry beach towels in a bunch, time after time. It was not all that bad, it was a space you could get away from everybody or visit with your friends and be as loud as you wanted. Oh the memories!! Mom

  5. @Annie Jumping Jehoshaphat......I would have been a bed wetter up to the point of moving out if I had been you. *shudder* And, if you asked me when I was drinking the tension tamer tea while not knowing the ingredients, I would have never said liqourice as a flavour. Not over powering at all!

    @Timothy, of course there was something watching from the other side. Two things. Two furry, purring kitty things!