Who's Sleeping Under Your Bed?
I don’t worry about the bogeyman under the bed anymore.
All right, all right, I know. I’m a grown woman—why am I even thinking about the bogeyman? Hey, my ex-husband used to drive me crazy by saying “Come in!” whenever he heard a tap or a scratch on a window. Didn’t he know that’s how you get vampires? You think cockroaches are hard to get rid of; try finding a pest-control outfit that fumigates for bloodsucking fiends! But I digress.
Even for people who are hard-headed, no-nonsense types, the bogeyman is, apparently, wired into our genes. According to an anthropologist I once heard interviewed on radio, the closet monster is for boys, and the under-the-bed bogeyman is for girls.
All right, he didn’t say it in so many words. What he said was that he could tell from the ankle bones of early hominid skeletons that the women were better suited to climbing, so his theory was that at night the women and children went up a tree to sleep, and the men slept at the bottom to keep guard. He said that boys were afraid of something coming at them from the side, and girls were afraid of something coming at them from below.
Tell me none of you have ever, ever, hesitated to put your foot on the floor in the middle of the night because a big, hairy hand might grab your ankle. Yeah, right.
My husband has it made—our house has no closets, so the Closet Monster has nowhere to hide. But I’m okay, too, because of books.
No, I haven’t been convinced by the reading of scientific works on brain function that God, love and the bogeyman are all chemical reactions in my head and therefore Not Real.
It’s the books under the bed. Look, I moved from a place where I had an actual library with actual shelves all around the walls to a house with much less wall space. (Theoretically this should have stopped me buying books because I have no place to put them. Theoretically.) There are nine or ten boxes of books crammed under the bed and completely filling any bogeyman space. All right, I’m exaggerating—they don’t completely fill it. My husband’s bagpipes are under there, too.
In our previous house there was space under the bed, with dust bunnies in it. It’s a little-known fact of bogeyman biology that they live only in spaces where there are dust bunnies. Bogeymen are afraid of brooms. In this, they and I are alike.
Of course, dust bunnies are tiny and nimble, and can work around boxes under the bed and even reproduce. Bogeymen are big and hairy, and need lots of lurking space. Boxes of books limit the lurking space considerably. Maybe my bogeyman tried to live under the bed. I can imagine him squished in, hearing me get up for that midnight stroll to the bathroom and straining to grab my ankle. I imagine him desperately trying to snake his arm between the box labeled “Egyptology” and the one labeled “Misc. Animal Books”. I imagine his big, dirty claws completely missing my ankle.
I imagine the dust bunnies snickering.
If the bogeyman is still living under my bed, he has either died of despair or turned into some kind of bookworm. Or maybe he’s learned to like the bagpipes. Either way, we’re all co-existing peacefully now, thanks to books.