Myths and Legends: Journeys Through Time

April, 2012

The Boogeyman

“When I was 6 I always watched the show, The Greatest American Hero. I wanted to prove it wasn’t real, so I began testing his powers vs mine. Things like I would wrap a towel around my neck like a cape and I would try flying in the house. Then when I couldn’t fly in the house, I figured I had to be outside… I climbed on top of the trailer and jumped off. I realized the Greatest American Hero can’t fly. Then came the day I wanted to prove he wasn’t bulletproof, so I gave my friend my bb gun and had him shoot as many times as he could at me.After digging out the bbs and screaming in pain I decided he wasn’t bullet proof.  I came to the decision that if I can’t do it, it can’t be done.”

The above quote is a story that my loving boyfriend, Michael, told me this morning when I asked him what myth from childhood he remembered the best. Now Michael is a comic book geek at heart. Always has been always will be, so it doesn’t surprise me that a superhero is the myth that he remembers. Myself on the other hand… I can recall a more terrifying myth. A myth that terrified me, yet nibbled at my curiousty at the same time. That myth, my readers was none other then the famous, perhaps infamous Boogeyman.  I don’t exactly recall when my mom and dad first started talking about the Boogeyman. In fact it might have been my grandparents that brought up the Boogeyman and my parents just ran with it. My paternal grandparents are from the islands of Trindad and Tobago…so their “cautionary, safe” tales were always rather interesting.  I do have one distinct memory of when I was about 4, maybe 5 and I was being an unholy terror. I was terrorizing my sister, even after my mom had asked me to stop, told me to stop, and put me in the corner for continuing. After my punishment was over…I was good for about 5 minutes then went right back to terrorizng my sister. I think I was messing with her barbie dolls and got a kick out of her reactions. My mother had just about had it with me and I remember she looked at me and said “Cassandra Catlyn, if you don’t stop making your sister scream right now, then I’ll tell the Boogeyman to take you away tonight. You’ll have to do hard work, no toys, no play time, no books, nothing fun. Just pure physical labor with very little breaks.” For some reason that made me stop in my tracks and I looked at her and went “The Boogeyman?” my mom nodded and explained him to me. She described him as this big, giant of a guy who at times could be scary but he could also be nice. He was a friend of all parents and if their kids were bad, all the parent had to do was tell Mr. Boogeyman and he would take them away for a day or two and when they were brought back they would be good little children. If they were exceptionally good kids, he gave the parents fun ideas to do with their kids. For the next several days, I was on my best behaviour. For the next several years…I toed the line between seeing if he really existed or if he was something my mom and dad made up. To this day I never got to find out that answer. The Boogeyman is one of the most well known mythical figures ever. It goes by several different names and is usually used to get little kids to behave. For my sister and I…our Boogeyman was somebody who would take us awa from our parents and make us work hard. For my grandparents, their Boogeyman was somebody who would take them away and make them work in the sugar cane fields. For my mom, the Boogeyman was something that hid under her bed and would get her if she left her bed at night. For my father….ironically his Boogeyman was called The Gypsies..and he was told that they would come and take him away forever if he misbehaved. The official most common name for the Boogeyman is Sack Man or Bag Man. In nearly every culture it is a being that will carry away naughty children. Writer Stephen King wrote a short story about the Boogeyman called “The Boogeyman”  which can be found in his Night Shift collection. It’s a disturbing take on this character. Also “The Langoliers” which can be found in his 4 Past Midnight collection can be construed as being about the Boogeyman, as one of the characters suffers a nervous break down and keeps mentioning the Langoliers…little munching machines that would get slow or naughty children.  Oddly enough..the Boogeyman is so popular he became a wrestler. For 4 years, The Boogeyman stalked wrestler in the WWE. He wrestled with them, managed one or two of them and in general gave them the creeps.  It was interesting seeing the Boogeyman being portrayed by somebody…and done so perfectly too.