Domestic Monsters

No, I’m not going to address the serious issues of domestic violence and the human monsters who perpetrate horrific crimes on family members. I’m referring to the other varieties of domestic monsters — the fanciful creatures of imagination.

The Monster Under the Bed
This is the monster that haunts entirely too many children, bringing sleepless nights or terrible dreams to the child attempting to sleep a few feet above the monster’s lair. Parents and babysitters must learn to check every corner under the bed because this monster shrinks to fit into tiny spaces and expands the moment the bedspread falls back into place.

Explosive Dust Bunnies
Not to be confused with the merely gigantic dust bunnies that collect under many sofas, explosive dust bunnies are like the Loch Ness Monster — rumored to exist but there is simply no solid evidence.

The Sock Monster
This famous monster lives in dryers and captures single socks. On occasion these missing socks return, but this usually happens after one has turned the missing sock’s partner into a dust rag or sock puppet. The only truly frightening thing in this monster’s modus operandi, is the tendency to select the most expensive or favorite socks from the dryer.

The Vicious Vacuum Cleaner
Terrorizes innocent cats with its blood-chilling wail. This monster is included only because my cat insisted.

This is where it gets interesting. One friend told me that he remembers the nightmares inspired by the breeze moving the curtains in his childhood home. The combination of the pattern on the fabric and the ripples in the wind, created a terrifying monster in his room.

Other nightmare-makers appear in many forms, but Monster Movies often play a role. There’s a reason my parents tired to limit my access to scary movies they KNEW I’d have nightmares. What they didn’t know is that my imagination could concoct a terrifying monster from minimal input. An otherwise silly 1950s era Science Fiction movie with aliens who ‘sucked’ life out of human brains, delayed my move into my own room because the portal was located in a closet — very much like the tiny closet in the room that was to be mine.

Years later, as a teenager (happily occupying the room with the slanted ceiling, dormer window and pine trees for curtains), I saw that film and laughed my ass off. Of course that night, I looked at my closet door and wondered…

Good, and sometimes bad, storytellers — including filmmakers — suggest just enough for a lively imagination to fill in the blanks and create a terrifying nightmare featuring a domestic monster. The curtains that inspired my friend’s dreams moved just enough for him to create his own monster.

I grew up with cats in the house and somewhere along the line I decided that if there really were something to be afraid of — the cats would let me know. I still rely on my cat to tell me when a strange noise signals danger. (That’s why I just had to include HIS domestic monster — the vacuum cleaner.)

Flickering shadows on a bedroom wall, a screen door banging in the wind, a bird struggling and rustling in the chimney — the vague sights and sounds of old houses are the classic sources of domestic monsters. Living in an apartment — even one with very thick and nearly soundproof 19th century walls — allows me to hear bits and pieces of my neighbors’ lives. The disembodied noises are the stuff of urban monsters — and are excellent fodder for fiction. The odd sounds, the ones that are most difficult to identify, become a monster soundtrack, because the best domestic monsters are the ones we imagine.

Check under the bed, behind the chair and inside the closet. Boo!


  1. Beth M.

    As we grow up and learn about life – its ups and downs – we begin to rely on our imagination to control an uncontrollable thought or situation. Some may say it is just a creative outlet, I tend to believe there is a boogeyman and I know for a fact that the sock monster does exist! Even though I’ve never seen him myself but my hosiery drawer can attest to his existence for years!

    • Candy

      Since I could not find one of my boots today (one boot not one pair), I’m wondering if the sock monster has grown more ambitious. Or maybe the cat kidnapped the boot?

      I am still perfectly capable of frightening myself the way I did as a kid. The Boogeyman, the Monster under the bed, the source of the creaking sound…. there’s always a good collection of monsters on the loose.