As a kid, I was never scared of the usual stuff kids were scared of. I like the darkness, it may give me the creeps sometimes but not to a point when I get pee-in-the-pants scared. Nor was I scared if monsters in the closet or under the bed, insects, reptiles, or any mythological, make-believe, or unidentified creature of folklore. Blood, death, or anything related to the macabre were, at a time, more fascinating and intriguing than frightening. School bullies bored me, and I think I also bored them eventually.
But that didn't stop me from being scared of Mr. Clean.
I couldn't remember, for the life of me, how I started getting frightened of him. Yes, I WAS scared of Mr. Clean, as in the hunk of a bald guy wearing an immaculately white muscle tee, with white eyebrows, an earring, and a sinister smile. I do remember, though, a life-size likeness of him, made out of cardboard and whatnot, guarding the entrance/package counter of this grocery store my mom and I frequented, because it was next to the jeepney loading station for City Heights (aka geriatric neighborhood I blogged about earlier), making it most convenient for us to buy last-minute groceries. Mothers have it in their genetic code to sense their children's fears, so my mom tells me to wait outside if she has to buy something in the store. This was 1980s Bacolod - kidnapping was not in in anyone's vocabulary, just starvation and the threat of looking like a Batang Negros (refer to earlier thread). If I wanted to come inside the store to drive my mom crazy and beg her to buy me chocolate or some nutrient-deficient snack with a free toy, I would drag her as hard as I can and run like it's nobody's business while avoiding Mr. Clean's steady gaze.
I remember feeling overwhelmingly relieved when, sometime in 1985 ( I was about to turn 6), we passed by the store and Mr. Clean was missing. I finally got to see what the package counter attendant looks like, with my mom assuring me that he has been in charge since 1983. I remember getting a puzzled look from him, as he may have probably thought that I was scared of him. For the first time in the history of my family shopping on that store, I was free of anxiety, far from getting a juvenile heart attack.
(to be continued)