I’ve Got a Sinking Feeling

When I was a kid, I was scared to death of quicksand.

I don’t know whether to blame Gilligan’s Island or The Incredible Hulk or one of the countless television shows and movies that portrayed people getting stuck in quicksand. All I know is, while a lot of people avoided swimming after watching Jaws, I preferred bodies of water to land, figuring the risk of a shark attack was minuscule compared to the very real danger posed by quicksand, which I believed lurked everywhere that wasn’t paved over. I was convinced I’d inadvertently step in a quicksand-filled swamp on my way to school and be swallowed whole, a thought that terrified me.

Look at the fear on the Skipper’s face! No wonder scenes like this gave me nightmares.

Sure, it seems silly now, but according to Slate magazine, 3% of all films released in the 1960s showed characters sinking in quicksand. No wonder I was so scared! The reality is, it’s physically impossible for a human to become completely immersed and drown in quicksand; because of the fluid’s high density, we can only sink to about waist-level. This still leaves us vulnerable to dehydration, hypothermia, or predator attack, but those all feel pretty unlikely. I am simply shocked to learn that Hollywood over-exaggerated the danger!

What, if any, irrational childhood fears did you have?

Still not sure if I’m writing every day this month…

21 thoughts on “I’ve Got a Sinking Feeling

  1. I was petrified of closets, especially at night. I read Stephen King’s Night Shift when I was pretty young…10 or so, so believe. And there was one story that scarred me for years: The Boogeyman. I would literally give any closet a wide berth, or move extremely fast when walking by. And if the door was even cracked open at night? I wouldn’t even go near it. Nope.

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  2. Our town flooded once when I was I child. Days later my mother took me the park, I wandered out of her site down near the bridge where I wasn’t allowed to go. I walked under it and got swallowed in the mud up to my chest. Frigging terrifying. Took 4 grown men to haul me out. Not quicksand… but close.

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  3. I was also fearful of quicksand. It seemed to be in an awful lot of TV shows and cartoons? My main fear was dogs, but my brother and best friend were both bitten by German shepherds, so not that irrational. And I’m still afraid when I hear barking to this day.

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  4. That’s a good point you make. You never see people sinking into quicksand on TV or in movies anymore. Must have been deemed too hokey and unlikely. D’ya know what, though? Sinkholes – the kind that swallow houses – are a real thing. Don’t know how common they are, but they’re kind of like the grownup version of quicksand.

    Great, now I’m going to have nightmares, and I already have that damn Menard’s song in my head to boot!

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    1. Every good thing comes to an end eventually. Quicksand scenes went out of fashion as horror movies stopped being creative becoming ever in your face grosser with each passing year.

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      1. As do I. I did discover four horror movies on Amazon Prime made like they would have been made in the 50’s. They are the best I’ve seen in a long long time though there wasn’t any quicksand.


  5. My mother was terrified of quicksand after listening to a skit on the radio when she was a little girl (back then they didn’t have television) of a women who stumbled into quicksand after pulling over onto the side of the road.

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      1. I grew up cheering on the quicksand yet it wasn’t until in my mid teens that I saw a woman go down without being rescued.

        I write quicksand and horror stories would you like me to share them with you?


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