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GOODMAN: Bringing back my childhood paranoia

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As a child I had a rather abnormal bedtime routine. Instead of simply brushing my teeth and putting on pajamas, I had a checklist of safety precautions that had to be accounted for before I was able to fall asleep each night.

First, I would sneak downstairs to make sure my parents had set the house alarm. Then, I would go to each door and make sure it was solidly shut and locked. After that I would sprint – not walk – upstairs to avoid the unknown that may or may not have been lurking in the dark.

Once the downstairs was deemed acceptable, I would head to my room, where seven separate inspections of my closet and bed took place. Yes, that’s right … I’d go back and forth seven times.

I was lucky enough to have the attic door in my closet. I would stare up at that door of doom to ensure its position had not moved since the previous night. If it had moved, it meant someone had snuck up there and was living directly above me. In these instances, I’d go get my mom, and we’d push furniture in front of the closet door.

From the closet I’d go to the bed, where I would thoroughly scan underneath it for clowns, monsters and little children (it’s an irrational fear that I’d rather not address). Once the closet and bed passed the test, I’d turn the light off to make sure nothing was staring back at me in the mirror.

Only once I was satisfied with the checklist could I fall asleep, facing my bedroom door so the vampires wouldn’t have the chance to bite my neck if I was turned the other way.

Needless to say, horror films used to get to me.

I like to think I hit a turning point during the eighth grade, though, when I kept the movie theater in business by going to see every scary movie made that year.

Throughout college I’ve become so relaxed, however, that I don’t even necessarily lock the apartment door before going to bed.

The stranger sleeping in my apartment this past weekend was a reminder that I should probably do that. Yes, a random girl slept in my roommate’s vacant bed last Friday night.

We discovered this when one of my roommates saw the girl in the hallway putting her shoes on around 7 a.m. The girl said “Hi” and then went back into the room she had slept in and laid down on the bed. After about five minutes, she booked it out of the apartment.

At first we thought this stranger may have been a friend of one of our other roommates, so we didn’t say anything. It was only after we came to the conclusion that none of us knew her that we realized she had somehow gotten into our apartment for the entire night without any of us realizing it. Talk about creepy.

Luckily, I found out later that the girl had simply stumbled into the wrong apartment unit. She was visiting a friend who lived on a different floor and merely got mixed up on which apartment she was supposed to go back to.

After we discovered the reality behind what happened, it was obviously somewhat funny and a great relief.

Still, the experience reinforced a point – just because I live in a locked apartment building now instead of a house doesn’t mean someone can’t still get in. And from now on I think I’ll bring back some of that responsible childhood bedtime routine – even if it only means locking the door at night.

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