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Omaha Magazine

Otis Twelve: Things I am Afraid Of

Aug 29, 2022 03:53PM ● By Otis Twelve
Otis Twelve column photo

They say you should face your fears.  That’s how true personal growth is achieved, or so I am told. And I read once on a List of Things You Can Do that a good way to do that is to make a list.  So here is a list.

A List of Things I am afraid of:

1. Vampires:  The Un-Dead have been a major fear of mine since my sister, who was supposed to be babysitting me, schlepped me along on a “secret” date she had with a very creepy jock-type named Dolan - he later got kicked out of a service academy for being “unacceptably obtuse.” Anyway, my parents were off to a fundraiser for Jack Kennedy hosted by Sargent Shriver’s first cousin and were likely to be out late, so sis had the opportunity to abscond undetected with her tiny, innocent, brother (me) and perhaps talk Dolan out of his class ring.  The theater we went to was showing a British Hammer flick, Horror of Dracula starring Christopher Lee.  There the true trauma to my nascent persona occurred… the Technicolor images on the screen were seared onto my young brain.  Rivers of Ehler’s red food coloring mixed with methyl paraben and clear corn syrup running down pale necks and pooling on fake stone floors, blindingly over-whitened fangs tearing flesh, acres of heaving décolletage bound up in a British schoolboy’s concept of lingerie appropriate for graveyards and tombs, clashing harmonics created by a very small string orchestra and a composer who is more famous for being Benjamin Britten’s page turner at recitals, and long passages of tedious exposition worked up by a gin-soaked screenwriter, who I have since discovered ended up penning scripts for BJ and the Bear, – it was all horrifying on a metaphysical level.  For years I could not sleep without a strand of garlic on my bedroom doorknob, a cross on my headboard, and an autographed copy of The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structures for Writers by Christopher Vogler on my nightstand.  As I grew older I eventually realized how irrational it all was.  For instance, how was that crucifix going to help me if the vampire was Jewish, Unitarian, or a 23rd Degree Mason?  But, despite the dawn of reason in my developing brain, I frequently found myself absent mindedly whittling wood into sharp stakes that could easily be driven through vampiric hearts well into my Fifties, and I still have a collection of wooden mallets that could be used to hammer the spikes home. Other effects on my life include the fact that I have never purchased a red velvet lined cape, or a pre-paid cemetery plot, bought property in the Carpathians, or trusted a woman dressed up like a gypsy… so far.  Oh, and I still have dreams about Gary Oldman’s hair.

2. Work Meetings.

That pretty much covers it, though it should be noted that Things That Mildly Irritate Me  is a much longer list.  Next time. 

Otis Twelve hosts the radio program Morning Classics with Otis Twelve on 90.7 KVNO, weekday mornings from 6-10 a.m. Visit for more information.

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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