By Mary Margret Daughtridge
It's almost Halloween, the time of year when we celebrate the frightful.
You know what scares me? Warning signs—the kind you don’t know exactly what to do with. Like Warning: Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty Of Law.
I’ve been thinking recently about the sort of advice/warning that I never know what I’m supposed to do with. Which makes me feel stupid. And alarmed in a misty, amorphous way.
The issue came up this weekend as I traveled to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway. The leaves are spectacular this year. But I didn’t see all that much of them. I had forgotten that on the Parkway, you’re on a road that’s hugging the nearly vertical side of a mountain.
Now see, right there, I’ve got a problem. I spent my formative years on the coastal plain of North Carolina where the land is F.L.A.T-flat, and the only time it’s not, is when it’s lower than flat. In which case it’s filled with water so the visual impression is still flatness.
My deepest intuition tells me that the earth is located under my feet, and the sky is above my head, and air surrounds me. You can fall off a bridge, off a roof, or out of a tree. If you got real unlucky, those things could fall on you. But you can’t fall off the earth, and the earth can’t fall on you.
In the mountains I’m expected to deal with earth that tilts? That rises up beside me higher than my head, blocking my view of the sky? That’s just wrong, friends. The kind of wrong that’s very bit as scary as encountering a werewolf, or touching the undead skin of a vampire. The kind of wrong that makes the hair stand up on your neck.
So, I’m driving in the mountains, and my paranormal detector is already red-zoned. I’ve got a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel because the only safe, understandable space is the width of the road.
Then I see a sign, sticking horizontally out of the side of the mountain.
Did I mention that I have an issue with directions? As in sense of direction which is non-existent, forcing me to rely totally on following directions. I see and read every road sign. (I can’t tell you how shocked I was when I learned some people don’t—but that’s another blog.) To the best of my ability, I do what the road sign tells me to do.
But this sign says, “Watch for falling rocks.”
How, I ask you, am I supposed to do that?
If the sign said “fallen rocks” okay, I could look out for them. In fact, I’m not sure I need to be told that anything larger than gravel would pose a hazard.
But don’t the sign makers know this car has a roof? I can’t see up. But if I could see above me, and there was a boulder in the air, could I hope to avoid it? Stopping would be the wrong thing to do, and hyperbole aside, I could stomp the accelerator, but the car wouldn't leap forward—not without a perceptible lag during which the rock would hit me.
But anyway, would trying to look up, instead of forward, really be a good idea? I could drive into or off of the mountain.
"Either one shouldn’t even be possible," the paranormal detector shrieks.
But really, it's all about following directions. If someone else is driving, I'm fine.
What feels paranormal to you--whether it's the classic definition or not? Got any signs that freak you out?