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The Mom Moment That Scared The $&*@ Out of Me

Erin Zammett Ruddy

I was home alone yesterday when the scariest thing ever happened. It didn’t involve my kids and it only lasted a few minutes but I was petrified. Here’s what went down:

Yesterday Nick took the kids to the park so I was alone in the house, which is rare and perhaps why I was extra sensitive to my super-quiet surroundings. I was in the kitchen making some pickles (we have an overabundance of cucumber) when I heard a man clearing his throat. It came from downstairs near the TV room/backdoor. It happened once and my heart jumped. I froze in my pickle-making tracks, trying to decipher who/what it was. Then it happened again. Maybe my father—who had stopped by earlier—was back in the house? But why would he be creeping around downstairs? And he never comes over unannounced (it’s an unspoken rule around these parts). About a minute went by and it happened again followed by something that truly scared the shit out of me….

That same man’s voice said “Hello,” then cleared his throat again. Holy. Shit. Hello? I said, petrified to get a response. Was it a neighbor popping in or the oil man or someone selling something? But why would they come in my house? I stood silently on alert in my kitchen scrolling through a dozen scenarios, all of which would require fight or flight. I seriously considered running out the front door with my cell and waiting outside until Nick and the kids came home. But I had the pickles to think about. Maybe the TV had been left on or Pandora turned on by itself in our office? I looked at my cell phone thinking maybe I’d pocket dialed someone, despite the fact that my phone was on the counter. Nope. Did Nick leave his phone? Maybe it’s Siri? Nope, he’d already texted me from the park. Then it happened again. “Hello. Cough Cough.” I considered grabbing my Henkel and heading down but then the third time I heard it, I started to recognize the voice. “Hello. Cough. Cough.” I waited to hear it again so I could confirm my suspicion. Yep, I knew exactly who he was and I was going to live. I would make it through this, though I still crept downstairs slowly, with my heart pounding.

When I got to the kids’ playroom—where I’d discovered the voice was coming from—I found him. The voice belonged to…Tim Allen (AKA, Buzz Lightyear). Yes, I had been scared shitless by a talking toy. We have the big talking Buzz and he had been left on and his batteries were dying (hence the throat clearing) but somehow he mustered the energy to say hello to me repeatedly and without a discernable pattern. Bastard. Needless to say, I felt like an idiot as I turned him off and threw him in the “annoying talking toys” basket. My heart rate began to slow and I even let out a little laugh. Still, when Nick and the kids walked in from the park, I was very happy to see them. Once I’m creeped out, I tend to stay creeped out.

Has something like this ever happened in your house? Has a rogue talking toy scared the crap out of you? Toys in general can be kinda creepy, right? Too many movies where they come to life and wreak havoc. I also once made Nick come home from work because I thought there was an intruder or an animal upstairs in Alex’s bedroom but it turned out to be a balloon that kept getting caught in his ceiling fan. So, yeah, I’m a big wimp and I tend to get myself worked up about weird noises. But I like to think that anyone in my situation—hearing a strange man’s voice saying hello to you while you’re home alone in your house—would be equally freaked out. Yes?