My name is Samantha Beard, and I am afraid of Shirley Temple.
There. I said it. My friends love to make fun of me for this phobia, but not many know the true story behind it. So I figure if I am stuck with the jokes, why not let everybody know what happened on the day that forever scarred me.
You see, it was May of 1998. I had just turned 7. For my birthday I told my parents that I would like to go to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum. When we arrived they gave me a choice of which part of the museum I wanted to see first, the normal Ripley’s display or the celebrity wax figures. I (for reasons unknown to me) chose the latter; I guess I was trying to get all the fun out of that day as possible. As soon as I walked in the door it was apparent that I had made a bad decision, I couldn’t grasp the concept that the “people” I was seeing were fake and it kind of scared me. My mother saw my discomfort and was trying to explain to me that they were just wax figures made to look like people, but I was still iffy on the whole thing. She finally decided that if she couldn’t explain to me well enough, she would just have to show me what she meant. It was at this moment that my destiny was sealed. She sauntered around the room, looking for the perfect sculpture to make an example of (rest assured she could have picked ANY celebrity. I recall a crazy looking Whoppie Goldberg in particular….) and she came to a stop right in front of a child sized figure standing on a three foot tall platform, who seemed to be about my age. Looking at the figure I remember three things- the curly blonde hair, a white party dress, and an innocent grin. Nothing to be worried about, right?. She motioned for me to get closer to the figure and I reluctantly shuffled a few inches closer. I managed to stand there long enough to notice a plaque on the platform that read “Shirley Temple.” As soon as I was just close enough she slowly reached her hand towards Shirley’s arm and as she did so I began so scoot away. I watched her, terrified of what was going to happen if she touched it and as her finger grew closer and closer my fears became reality. Her flesh had barely grazed the wax when a loud alarm reverberated throughout the building. I swear at that moment Shirley came alive. The smirk on the figure curled into an evil snarl and the head of curly hair whipped towards me and in her eyes I saw my entire life flash before me. I instantaneously began to cry and I bolted into the next room; The Hall of Presidents had never seemed as comforting as it was in that moment. I tried to focus on the recording being played of the Declaration of Independence, but all I could hear was the piercing ring of the alarm. I struggled to see through my tears so I could keep an eye on the door, for I knew that at any moment Shirley would run through and take me down, force me to trade bodies with her, and forever lock me into her wax figure while she went on to live my life. After what seemed like ages, my parents thought it best to take me home where my fear only continued. I still thought that I was not safe and that the figure would find out where I lived and come to finish the deed. Twelve years have gone by and I still occasionally get the feeling that Shirley is lingering around the corner just waiting to pounce on me unexpectedly. Maybe that’s why I always so quick to check behind the shower curtain these days…
Oh, and don’t even think about asking me if I would like some animal crackers in my soup. Not. Funny.