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Steven Henegar: I’ve always been intrigued

I’ve always been intrigued by how many ways monsters fit into our lives. After all, as a kid if you were really afraid you were “just eat up with fear.” And at reunion one time, I discovered that my own family had been calling up monsters, with the best of intentions, for generations. These stories were simply funny, galumphing predators meant to get your attention and make sure you went straight home when you were supposed to, fleeing and giggling before them. Perhaps they were hired by your parents from bureaus that specialized in providing elastic misgivings that would stretch around any (new) circumstance, just to be helpful.

Later, even before you’d read Freud, they became the personification of everything inside you that was bursting to get out. They were too interesting, too varied, too comfortable to be restrained. Sure, some of them were extraordinary, but often they were domesticated and familiar. They became like family mannerisms, a gesture or expression by which you recognized who you were related to, or a kind of early warning system that whispered, “Wait, I’ve seen this before.” Finally, they could be funny, helpful monsters; monsters searching for redemption; monsters with your best interests at heart; monsters like a mirror. All of them waiting kindly, patiently in ambush.

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