The Red Door and the Drunk Toilet

Let’s state the obvious here: I’m not someone who’s known for sitting through a horror film unfazed. I also am not someone who’s known for handling a variety of liquor too well. Lastly, as this whole blog can attest to, I very easily cry.

With the three of these elements combined, you have an old-fashioned-Claire style emotional hurricane on the horizon.

Well, such was a day late in September. My boyfriend and I went to a benefit concert for cancer awareness in the early afternoon. Given the stories being told and reflecting on my own family connections to cancer, it was impossible not to cry throughout the whole experience.

Then the liquor started. And it wasn’t just a friendly rum and Coke. It was Jell-O shots, whiskey shots, beer, and I even tossed some rosé wine in there. This happened within a three-hour span.

I thought to myself, Well, it’s not red wine, so I shouldn’t get too sick. Somehow, I thought that red wine would be the culprit of any stomach trouble, not the varietal concoctions of hard alcohol.

My boyfriend also noticed my intake. “Claire, try sticking with the beer,” he encouraged. But the deed had already been done. I had effectively mixed.

When we left, I initially expected the commute back to take two hours. But, smart or not, we got an Uber. We were back at our apartment in a matter of 20 minutes.

The night was young! It was merely 5pm! And my boyfriend and I are festive people, so we knew just how to spend our time for the evening. Looking ahead to the next month, we wanted to celebrate Halloween early.

Shall we watch Beetlejuice? No. Shall we watch The Babadook? No, we already watched that on a flight recently.

Shall we watch one of the most visually disturbing films of the past 10 years, Insidious?

Yes, that one!

Now, I had not nearly begun to sober up and I was already feeling a range of vulnerable emotions. I was so inebriated that my normal emotional defense mechanisms were shut off. Shields were down, Enterprise style. Sober Claire would be too scared. Drunk Claire was more cavalier than that.

Since I’m still drunk, I won’t remember it and I’ll be able to handle the scares, I thought.

I was right in one aspect – I only remember portions of Insidious. We were flipping channels a few weeks later and Spike was playing it. The scene was when one of the ghost hunters – whose face was NOT familiar to me in any form – was looking in a hallway and found some paranormal sisters. Needless to say, I ran out of the room as if I’d never seen it before.

When we started the movie, it was around 5:30pm. I was starting to feel a little queasy, but I attributed it to a normal reaction to the alcohol.

If I drink more, the feeling will go away, I thought. That’s what we always tell ourselves when we’re drunk. We’re like alcohol conmen and we’re our own targets.

In addition to the queasiness, that tight, uneasy sensation I get with horror films started as well. It’s the same feeling I get when I read Adam Ellis’ Dear David thread, it’s the same feeling I get when I read about a creepypasta or when I played Slenderman for the first time. That element of suspense. Waiting for the horror was the horror itself.

Now, I normally dull the horror for myself since I cover my eyes a lot. When we watched The Babadook on a flight, it was probably the most enjoyable horror film experience I have had: not only could I hardly hear the film over the engines, I could barely see it because of the glare of the lights and windows! It was a scaredy cat’s dream.

This time, I thought that the alcohol I had consumed would dull the horror of Insidious. I was gravely mistaken.

Despite the initial start of the film, the first 45 minutes of the movie was fine. My plan was working as I intended – I didn’t really process what was going on screen, so I wasn’t really remembering what was happening.

However, I started to surface from the inebriation right around the scene where Rose Bryne first realizes that something weird keeps happening at night. She kept getting up and down from the bed and the dread started to permeate my dreamlike state. Oh god, I thought, this is when things are going to start to get scary.

The absence of music and space between action acted as all too familiar paranoia. My stomach started to churn in fear.

But, unfortunately, there was more than fear that was churning.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” I breathed, and I sprinted to the toilet. The horror of the unseen demon, the quiet dark nights, the alcohol. Everything had to be purged. Just like the demon had to be purged from the comatose demon-possessed boy.

For the rest of the movie, I was in a hellish haze of fear, paranoia, and nausea. Sometimes the fear distracted me from the nausea. Sometimes the nausea distracted me from the horrors of the film. Either way, I was caught in the middle of a horrific bender and my emotional reaction was only making it worse.

Did I stop? Did I cave in? Did I at least lie down after the third time I threw up? No. No I didn’t. Because that would be giving up. I had to prove to myself that I could do this, that I could watch a normal scary movie like every other normal person. I had to overcome two of my greatest fears: demons and vomiting.

My boyfriend insisted on helping and making sure that I was okay. I persisted and told him to not stop the movie. We were going to finish this.

By the end of the movie, I was an absolute mess. But I demanded that we finish; I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m pretty sure the scene in the kitchen with Patrick Wilson took us 30 minutes to watch.

But, at long last, we finished the movie. I did it!! I made it!!

Needless to say, the puking portion of the night was not close to being done.

I woke up with a nasty hangover the next morning, but at least I had an accomplished hangover. It was a productive intoxication.

Once I finally managed to get out of bed, my boyfriend and I sat down on the couch. He turned to me and said, “We’ll definitely have to watch the sequel at some point.”

Hearing that, my stomach turned a little, almost Pavlovian.

“Maybe later,” I said.


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