THE [‘STACHED] CROWD: A Remixed Story

♪ It’s no use
She sees the crowd
She starts to shake and cough
Just like the anxious woman in
That famous book by Nabakov
Don’t stand
Don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me ♪

The ‘Melody’ Police

For my next remix, I chose to do a remix of the assignment Facing Your Fears. Details for the original assignment are as follows:

“What is your biggest fear? Is it spiders… heights… snakes… needles? Have you ever thought about what your fear might think of you?  Write a short story of a terrifying event from the perspective of your fear.  You never know… they might be just as scared as you are!”

I then hit the remix button on this assignment and got:
Facing Your Fears [Remixed]: ‘Stache It!

What is my biggest fear? It might be easier to list what I’m NOT afraid of. I’m the type of person who is afraid of her own shadow. But I think I’m most afraid of other people. I’ve been shy for as long as I can remember, and with that shyness, a social anxiety developed and grew into a monstrous thing. I’ve gotten a bit better in functioning with this fear as I’ve gotten older, however being in a crowd of people still makes me feel ill. In fact, if I’m in a room full of people (a restaurant, a movie theater, a classroom), I always make sure that I get a seat on the end of a table/booth/row of chairs, because I will internally freak out if I’m hemmed in with other people. I’m what I would call “people claustrophobic,” and being in the middle of people is a big anxiety trigger.

The remix for this assignment was to “‘stache it” (um…what? I’m not sure how to ‘stache a story), but since I decided to write a story about a crowd of spectators, I just included the fact that most of the gentlemen have a mustache. I’m a visual person, so I made an image to go along with the story. I googled mustache generator on the off chance that there was an app to ‘stache-ify’ my photo, and google did not disappoint. There is in fact an app for that. It’s called facetache. It was incredibly fun to mustache a crowd of people.

When I think of mustaches, I think of guys in top hats and suits, because the word mustache conjures up in my mind an image of those large, fancy, handlebar ‘staches from the 19th century. (I further associate these mustached, top hatted gentlemen with Harrumph Appropriations– a comedy troupe that dresses like these 19th century gentlemen as part of their schtick).

Since I made these kinds of connections with the word mustache, I decided to choose a photo of people dressed up for the Derby, which would also serve as the base for my story. Writing about my fear from my fear’s perspective is really just writing from other people’s perspective, so I came up with a story that shows how someone with anxiety feels when they are crammed in with a crowd of people.

The Crowd

A thunderous roar erupts from the crowd.
The noise is deafening. The air is suffocating.
Men in pressed suits and top hats stand shoulder to shoulder with one another.
Women in blouses, long skirts, and big hats squeeze in with their partners.
Some of the faces look amused, but many wear a scowl. Most of the gentleman sport a mustache.
“C’mon Sunday Silence! I have a lot of money riding on you!”
“I’ll Have Another! C’mon, I’ll Have Another!”
The sun beats down on the crowd of people, causing the gentlemen to dab at the sweat dripping down their faces, and the women to fan themselves.
More people pour in, eager at the chance to win it big.
The crowd swells past capacity.
A woman faints from the heat.
“My God, is she alright?”
“Someone call for help!”
People try to make room for the paramedics, but the crowd is so thick that no one can get through.
“Make way, make way!”
The paramedices finally push and shove their way towards the woman and attend to her.
Onlookers briefly draw their attention away from the race to see what all the commotion is about. They crane their necks to see, but it’s near impossible to see over the crowd. They go back to watching the race.
A loudspeaker gives an update on the lead horse. Shouts and boos and cheers fill the stands.
“C’mon, Spend A Buck, you can still win this!”
More people pour in.
The crowd grows to a monstrous capacity; there is no room to breathe.
The mob of people become a blur of black and white and sickening colors.
The noise is overwhelming.
More people pour in.
The crowd fades to nothing. It’s all black.

I wake up in a cold sweat, breathing heavily.
“Oh, oh thank goodness, it was all a dream.”
“Ma’am? Ma’am? Are you with us? Do you know where you are?”
I look around at the faces staring back at me.
“It wasn’t a dream Ma’am, you fainted.”
I can’t make sense of what I’m hearing. The voices sound garbled.
I look out over the crowd of people; a moderate turn out.
The men are dressed in pressed suits and top hats.
The women in blouses, long skirts, and big hats.
A pleasant murmur ripples through the crowd.
Did I imagine the whole thing?
“Aaaaand the winner is…Go for Gin! Go for Gin wins it!”
The crowd cheers for the winner. People get up to leave.

I lay back down in the medical tent and close my eyes. I always did prefer the sound of silence.

Hey, maybe my fear isn’t so scary after all. All I have to do is imagine a crowd of people with old time-y mustaches!

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