There are some things about being an adult that are scary.
Luckily for all of us living in 2020, however, you can Google almost anything to make it less terrifying (minus strange symptoms – I’m looking at you, WebMD). Folding a fitted sheet, for instance, seems less impossible when you turn to the internet to discover the proper technique (it’s not an exact science, but at least you tried before you wadded it up). Likewise, tying a bow tie is almost easy after watching and rewatching YouTube videos whose target audience includes 50% college professors and 50% fraternity pledges. You can keep the tears to a minimum when cutting an onion if you consult some WikiHow article or Instagram food blog before hacking away aimlessly.
I know what you’re thinking. There are some terrors in the adult world that Google can’t explain away. That’s when you simply resort to plan B and call your parents. Most dads will be just as patient as a Google page when you’re looking for answers about a light that’s come on in your car – though whether it’s Google or your dad, I highly recommend running your “it’ll go off eventually” plan by someone. You can similarly call your mom with questions like “If I bought this last Tuesday and I’ve kept it refrigerated since then, is it still ok to eat” or “It smelled ok, but I remember the color being a little different. Should I be worried?”
In my time masquerading as an adult, however, I’ve come across one terrifying occurrence that can’t be Googled or solved by my parents. What in the world am I supposed to do if I hear something in the night?
It sounds dumb, I know, but think about it. What do I Google in that scenario? Home invasion statistics? Rapid installment security systems? Viciously barking dog YouTube videos?
There’s no app that can see through my bedroom door or walls to show me what horrors lurk beyond, there’s no podcast to provide step-by-step instructions on how to defeat murderers, and there is (as far as I know) no Buzzfeed quiz to tell you which qualities you likely possess to defend your apartment against monsters.
There was a time when I could have texted my dad that I’d heard something and asked him to report back if he found anything of note when he searched the house. Now that we are separated by nine states, however, there could be a symphony of bumps in the night outside my door, and calling my dad would do about as much good as hiding under my covers and hoping the home invaders don’t notice me when they come in.
Obviously, if there is undoubtedly a predator prowling your home under cover of darkness, you should call 911. I’ve got a feeling, though, that the dispatcher on the other end might need more to go off than a simple “I think I heard something.”
Simply put, you can’t fake your way through this one. There is no phone call or Reddit thread that can make this problem go away.
I’ve seen enough movies to know that if there’s no one around to save me from potential danger outside my bedroom, I’m supposed to grab a baseball bat and go slinking around in the dark to make sure all is well. I suppose there was a time about two decades ago when I owned a baseball bat. After a year or so of watching baseballs hit me in the face, however, I think my parents probably took pity on me and decided to save space by giving the bat away – along with the balls, mitts, and racquets.
Looking around my bedroom, I guess there are some alternatives for defending the apartment from home invaders. I’ve got some heavy books I could chuck at my assailant’s head (the complete works of William Shakespeare or the fifth Harry Potter book could do some damage), but just like I was never good at hitting baseballs with a bat, I’m a pretty hopeless case when it came to throwing objects at a desired target. I suppose I could crash my lava lamp over a burglar’s head – I could even heat it up for maximum effect if the perpetrator hangs out in the living room for about an hour – but lava lamps are getting harder and harder to find these days so I’m not sure it’s worth it. I always sleep with a glass of water beside my bed, so if I suspect the intruder is a wicked witch or an alien, I could throw it in his or her face. You’ve got to admit, though, that none of these options has the same ring to it as your standard baseball bat.
If it ever comes to unarmed combat, my previous experiences haven’t given me much to offer. One could argue, I suppose, that after majoring in music as a vocalist, I am prepared to scream extra loud as the burglar sinks his knife into my flesh. My piano lessons have at least ensured that if it comes to punching or scratching, I can make sure I do so without creating excess tension in my wrists, hands, or fingers.
That’s all I’ve got, so if the home invader has even an ounce of ill will, it looks pretty grim for me.
It’s not even an option for me to hide. The obvious choice would be to squeeze under the bed, but the amount of quarantine weight I’ve gained since March means that if I press myself under the bed to avoid being murdered, I’ll likely suffocate instead. Jumping in the closet is also out because – let’s be honest – who actually keeps their closet clean enough to fit inside?
I guess the takeaway from all this is that adulting is terrifying sometimes. Whether it’s a job interview, a busted pipe, an ache or pain you’ve never before experienced, or even a global pandemic that derails your entire plan, scary things are bound to come around. And sometimes there’s no one who can banish your fear except you.
Just as you probably won’t have a lot of warning if a monster is lurking in the dark shadows of your home, you may not foresee life getting in the way. You likely won’t have your proverbial baseball bat right by your bed to beat the problem away either. Sometimes you’ve got to make do with what you have.
As someone who regularly interprets nighttime noises as cause to send a quick text to my family dictating what to do with my possessions after I’m gone, I am here to tell you you’ve got this.
You are brave.
You can face those scary parts of life and kick their butts. You’ve got no choice.
Staying under the covers isn’t an option.
Unless you realize it’s just the icemaker being loud. In that case, roll over and go back to sleep. You’re good.