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summer of fear

Summer of fear

It's not the heat or the elecricity that summer storms bring. There is a crackling in the air, a underlying current that every once in a while sends a suprised shudder up your spine.

It's called Fear. This is the Summer of Fear.

I had a summer like this once, when the Son of Sam was on the loose and you could see the panic in the eyes of every brown-haired girl. But that was an isolated, specific fear. Brown-haired lovers in New York, parked in their cars sealing summer romances.

Now, it's all of us. It's not just one crazed man who hears the bark of a dog telling him to kill. It's hundreds of crazed fanatics, and the fear they are instilling in us is only bolstered by the Axis of Panic known as media, government, conspiracy theorists.

They're coming for us and they are coming by land, by sea, by air. They have packed guns and bombs and airborne diseases and it's only a matter of time before they release the dogs of hell upon us. If you believe everything you hear or see, that is. Do you? Even if you believe only half of it, or a quarter of it, it doesn't matter. The unease has already settled into the air like a virus. It's contagious.

Every low flying plane or helicopter is regarded with suspicion. A clap of thunder can make you jump. A siren. A special news bulletin.

Fourth of July is coming. Independence Day. Perhaps they will shroud their dirty bombs in the explosions of hundreds of fireworks exploding over New York. The scrolling news underneath the talking heads on CNN assures us that the Fourth of July would be a perfect time for them to strike. Symbolism.

Or maybe, as the scrollbar on MSNBC says, it will be where we least expect it, when we least expect it. Maybe July 3, not July 4. Maybe not New York or Las Vegas. Maybe Casper, Wyoming. Just to throw us off.

As we approach September all over again, the sense of panic and dread that surrounds us grows. Has it been almost a year already? Do we have to relive that date all over again? How many of us will stay home from work on that day, afraid to leave the house? How many of us are already living like that, our brains fried into a permanent saute of panic, fear and unrest by too many newspaper headlines?

We almost forgot about bin Laden, didn't we? There was talk of Saddam to fill in the gap, always another evil enemy to take the place of the ones we couldn't capture. Like in any comic book, the evil guys eventually come back, with bigger plans and bigger devil horns and when you though they were dead, it sort of adds to the impact, to the element of surprise. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the water turns out to be shark infested.

Summer of Fear. That's what this is. No matter how much you say you do not fear them, you don't believe the hype, you don't watch the news, I am willing to bet that the drone of a crop duster flying over your house will send you running for a gas mask. I'm willing to bet that you feel it. You feel the the blanket of unease that our own security agencies have covered us with.

I'm waiting for the comic book ending. For the superheroes to band together and form an alliance and kick the shit out their enemies. Or at least foil their evil plans and put us all back into our safe, comfortable place, where panic doesn't spark the air, where our lives don't exist in a constant state of elecricity, like we just collectively stepped on a third rail.

This is our Summer of Fear. I think I'll just spend it poolside, in a constant state of denial. Anyone want to join me?


Yes, the government and the media are running around saying "the sky is falling, the sky is falling," imho to sound like they are Doing Something. After all, that's their job. But the end result of all this sounds to me like They (the bad guys) have won. Not by the physical attacks, but by creating the climate of fear and panic that is changing too many lives and letting people blindly accept diminuation of personal liberties.

It's a no-win situation. I'm sure the government would much rather deal with this whole issue in secrecy. But when presented with allegations of incompetence and choruses of "why didn't you tell us this was going to happen", they decided to cover their asses by publicizing every little blip on the radar.

I don't about you, but in cases where I, personally, have no control over what's going on, I prefer to remain blissfully unaware.

I'm with you at the pool. Here, have a Billacolada.

As our goverment plays the part of "the boy who cried wolf" and when the next incident strikes, then they'll say "we told you so"... this is a no-win, no-win situation for all of us.

With that said... I'll cya poolside with my beverage of choice... Jim Beam.

Up the Paxil, Michele. I'm with JE. Fuck it. There's not a damn thing we can do about it. And the 4th of July is my 4-year anniversary. So if the world ends, at least I'll go out happy. Heh.

I'm bringing an extra pitcher of margaritas.

It's a summer of fear indeed, but more of a summer of impending inevitability. I don't think people are so much afraid as they are tense. "It still won't happen to me, but where will it happen?"

People are still in denial, which is probably a good thing, that terror and defeat, death and catastrophe lurk in every corner, every crosswalk, on every bus and in every building.

: It's always been this way, just read Ernest Becker's "Denial of Death." It isn't just this summer, but our whole lives that we live, tensed by our mortality.

I'm there at the pool with ya.

Beautifully-written post, Michele. For me it's more a Summer of Dread though, but for all the same reasons you talk about. I want the superhero ending too. Meantime, gimme a good stout horse, the stars above, and my git-tar.

I'm ready to give it up to the JLA right now. But at the same time, this Fourth of July is my grandparents' fiftieth anniversary. To me, that's just about enough to be proud of. If the world ended on July 4th, 2002, I think I could say there was a happy ending. I think.

Franklin Roosevelt said it for me: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

We lived with the threat of total nuclear annihilation for half a century and managed to do pretty well. Vague bullshit terrorist threats are nothing by comparison, so why are we so freaked out?

(P.S. those nuclear missiles are still pointed right at us and could be here in half an hour's time at any given moment. Anybody feel afraid of that? Just checking)