Skeleton Man

The elementary school I went to was run out of a large, gaudy, 70's-themed house. The kindergarten was upstairs and the first and second grades were on the basement level.  The building was surrounded by woods.


One year, on Halloween, our second-grade teacher told us a scary story.  It was called "The Skeleton Man" and it was unbelievably terrifying.  As our teacher was telling the story, we sat motionless, absorbing every gruesome detail. 


When it was over, a strange silence fell over the room.  It was obvious that each one of us was simultaneously filled with regret for ever agreeing to listen to such a horrifying tale and also trying to figure out how to hear more of it.  The rest of the day was tinged with a foreign, unsettled feeling - like we had all just been diagnosed with cancer.  We drifted around the classroom, doing our tasks quietly and robotically because we were too consumed with anxiety to experience any secondary emotions.  

I went home that evening and sat petrified in the corner.  


I knew that my life would never be the same - that everything I did from that moment onward would be tainted with my knowledge of the Skeleton Man.   

The next day at school, I excused myself to use the restroom.  The basement bathroom was terrifying in and of itself - it was claustrophobic and mildewy, painted brown with weathered, yellow linoleum that curled up in the corners.  The shower was full of tattered cardboard boxes and the mirror was cracked in several places.  To get to it, you had to walk through a maze of boxes in the creepy supply room.  There was a closet adjacent to the toilet that was covered with a stained bed sheet.  But the bathroom took on an entirely different level of terror when I realized that the Skeleton Man almost definitely lived in the closet.  I couldn't believe that I'd never noticed before.  


How many times had I sat there on the toilet, blithely relieving myself while the Skeleton Man watched me from two feet away?   

From then on, I refused to use the basement bathroom.  At first I tried thinking of excuses to go upstairs to the kindergarten so I could use their bathroom.   I would suddenly spring up from my desk and say "I think I hear my sister calling me, can I go check?" or "I just remembered that Ms. Brunton said she wanted me to bring her this piece of paper" or  "I hope the kindergartners are okay... maybe I should go make sure?"   This tactic was rarely successful, so I opted instead to sneak outside and go to the bathroom in the woods behind the school.  


Whenever I had to go, I raised my hand and asked my teacher if I could have permission to use the restroom.  I clearly annunciated the word "restroom" in case anyone should doubt my actual intentions.  Then I would stomp loudly down the hall and through the supply room, stopping just short of the bathroom.  I would then turn around, sneak quietly back the way I came and slip out the door.  Once I was outside, I would break into a sprint to avoid being spotted on my way to the woods.  The process became even more complicated in the winter months because I couldn't just grab my shoes and coat on the way out the door to "use the restroom."  People would begin to suspect something.  No, I had to brave the snowy forest barefoot.  It was worth it, though.  I remember watching as my foolish classmates left the room to use the bathroom, and congratulating myself on being smart enough to avoid the life-threatening mistake they were making.  

My little plan couldn't last forever, though.  Sometime in the spring, I was caught peeing behind a tree by the first grade teacher, Mrs. Davison.   There was several months' worth of toilet paper scattered around me, so it was clear that this was not a one-time offense.  

Mrs. Davison:  "Allie!  What are you doing?" 

Me: "Looking for ants." 

Mrs. Davison:  "What's all this toilet paper doing out here?" 

Me:  "I don't know.  It must have blown here with the wind."

Mrs. Davison:  "I see.  And why are you peeing in the woods?" 

Me:  "Oh, I was just out here and I had to go." 

Mrs. Davison:  "How about you come inside and use the real bathroom..." 

At that point I started weeping and screaming about the Skeleton Man and how he lives in the closet and if I used the inside bathroom, he would kill me and then I would never get to grow up and be a veterinarian and my family would probably cry and wish that I had never used that stupid bathroom and my mom would yell at Mrs. Davison for making me do it because if I died it would be all her fault! 

I'm sure it was quite a spectacle.  

For the next week or so, I avoided peeing altogether.  I would hold it in until it became painful and I had to sit rigidly in my chair with my legs crossed.   Eventually I had to face the basement bathroom, but I tried my hardest to make sure that those terrifying encounters were kept to a minimum.  

The next year, our class was moved to a different building with a different bathroom, but I never completely got over my fear of the Skeleton Man.  Even as an adult, I sometimes feel like he's hiding in my bedroom closet or in my basement with the orc rapists.   


UPDATE:  There have been a lot of questions regarding the details of my elementary school, so I thought I would elaborate a little.  I didn't go to a traditional public school, but we definitely weren't a commune :)  The fancy, normal-looking, brick building in which the school started was condemned (because of asbestos) and the school had to move suddenly.  They hadn't found a suitable permanent location yet, so that's why we had school in the old house.  Before the school bought the house, we had to have class in a tiny upstairs library in a church.  It smelled like moth balls and it got really, really hot during early September.  The house was an upgrade for sure.  The school owned the house, so it's not like we were just running around in someone's living room or anything.  

Regarding the barefoot thing: because we went to school in an old house that had carpeted floors, we had to take our shoes off at the door.  And I don't know how I was able to escape detection for so long.  I mean, we didn't have hall-monitors or anything (the school was far too small for that), but it is still pretty amazing that I was able to sneak around the teachers.  

53 comments:

ShineForLife said...

My theory is, if you see him before he sees you, you're safe.

emvandee said...

When I was ten, I went to Girl Guide camp, where someone told me that the sewage at the bottom of the outhouse, if it sits too long, turns into boiling acid and if you pee too hard, it splashes back and burns you violently and that's how you get flesh-eating disease. I held it for three days until I peed myself during craft time, and to this day cannot use an outhouse. Or even most public washrooms. I don't know why I am telling you this. I thought you could relate?

Stormy Cruz said...

Hahahaha.... Oh, Allie, you're hilarious. And also a genius.

Best part (or perhaps the worst part) is that I could totally picture myself in your shoes--or bare feet. My child self (though at 25, I haven't outgrown it) could convince myself of some incredibly irrational things. And it didn't matter that I was the only one privy to such knowledge. So I'd have been peeing in the woods too if I'd heard about skeleton man.
Ah, the blessings of an overactive imagination. Hell, I'm still afraid of the dark.

SimplyComplicated said...

I've never heard of an orc rapist (a blog I missed, perhaps?) but I'm suddenly terrified of them. Thank you for absolutely ruining my life.

Allie said...

ShineforLife - That's exactly why I don't sleep.

emvandee - I can totally relate. I'm scared of Porta Potties and outhouses too, mostly because one time when I was 12, I was camping with my friends and one of them dropped his flashlight down the outhouse hole and then my teacher jumped in after it and I realized that a full-grown man can fit in an outhouse hole and ever since, I've been a little wary of them. What if the Skeleton Man is in there?

Stormy - I KNOW! I hate it when I have to turn out the light in my kitchen at night. The light switch is all the way across the kitchen and when I turn it off, I have to walk back out in the dark. It's terrifying and I always run a little bit.

SimplyComplicated - Yes, I wrote a post back in December about the orc rapists that live in my basement. They ruin my life on a daily basis :(

miss. chief said...

Mhm. I have a 'midnight wolf' that eats you if you're not asleep by midnight but you're in bed. For some reason being completely still keeps him off my trail though. Oh, and under the covers as much as possible.

Allie said...

miss. chief - I was scared of the wolf-thing from Neverending Story... Is Midnight Wolf anything like that? If so, holy crap. I think it would either cure my insomnia or exacerbate it to such a degree that I would die.

publicknitting said...

So, you're like totally crazy. But, I'm afraid of the dark at 25. Like, seriously afraid. I will freeze and feel like something in the dark is about to grab me.

Susie Q said...

I was scarred for life by an episode of the X-files. Some guy was hiding under a car and stabbed the ginger lady's (I never did learn which way round their names went.. :P) foot with a spike covered in poison. Even to this date (more than 10 years after that episode) I get really uncomfortable around parked cars/cars running empty behind me.

YEAAAAAAH I'm a freak!

I'm loving the toilet paper-image though. Did you just have a stash there or did you bring your own every day? AAAAAND.. Who had to clean that sh£t up? :D

xx

sarah said...

Under the covers = pretty much invincible.

danielle8000 said...

Did you grow up on a commune? I am confused. Why is the school in a house? And why did you not wear shoes when you were in the school?? Please explain!!

lintilla said...

Oh god my bathroom fear was rampant throughout my childhood. I think I used the bathroom at school in elementary school maybe, like, twice. I just held it in all day. MY BLADDER WAS MIGHTY. (Might explain why I have to pee every half hour as an adult.)

There are still bathrooms I won't use. Sometimes I have to send my girlfriend in ahead of me to scout things out. (See, more reasons why dating girls is *awesome*.)

And Susie Q - Scully!

dogimo said...

It's a terrible tale as it is, but imagine how much worse things would have been had the teacher not warned you of the existence of the Skeleton Man! You'd have no idea the danger you were in - probably he would have GOT you.

I hope you eventually thanked her in some way! Some...appropriate, or...gruesomely appropriate way.

Allie said...

publicknitting - The dark is fucking scary.

Susie Q - One time I hid behind the couch and watched the scary movie my parents were watching when I wasn't supposed to. I don't even remember what movie it was, but some guys dressed up as cops buried a girl alive and that image will never leave me.

I don't know who had to clean up the mess, but they were lucky that I didn't really ever go number 2 out there. I was way too nervous for that!

danielle8000 - Haha, no. I went to a school that was just getting started up, so they didn't really have a permanent location yet. We were in the old house for probably 3 years and then moved to the permanent location. The school owned the house, so it wasn't like we were just crashing in someone's basement :)

Allie said...

lintilla - That needs to go in a powerpoint! "Why Dating Girls is Awesome." Reason number 1: bathroom protection.

Joe - You're right! My teacher saved me!

Swistle said...

1. For me it was fourth grade and The China Doll.

2. I finally put my box spring right on the floor because the under-the-bed was too scary.

Allie said...

Swistle - Boyfriend wantss to get a bed frame because right now we are sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor, but I'm like "no fucking way, dude. Bed frames are scary." Also, Boyfriend has Restless Legs Syndrome, so anything with springs in/on it is out because his thrashing wakes me up at night by rocking the bed.

Tony said...

Your teacher sounds like a jerk. Was she close to retirement age by any chance? If I was a teacher, and I was about to retire, I'd scare the crap out of kids...maybe...

Allie said...

Tony - I'm sure the story wasn't nearly as scary as I remember it. I tried to find it online, but I couldn't. I'm pretty sure it was a Native American legend or something, so not hardcore horror - but it sure seemed terrifying at the time!

Amy said...

1. What the hell kind of school was that? Charles Manson Elementary? It sounds like something out of a cheesy horror movie.

2. Why would your SECOND GRADE teacher tell you a story like that?? That's a story you hear at a slumber party where there's a 4th grader whose joy in life is scaring the crap out of younger kids.

3. Why did you have to take your shoes off in the classrooms? Seriously, it's like they didn't want you to be able to run away when the pedophiles came in.

4. I noticed you drew boyfriend between you and Skeleton Man. Good move. How very self preservationist of you.

:o)

Ed Adams said...

That's not a school, that's a compound.

Who was your principal? David Koresh? Maybe Jim Jones?

Sarah P said...

Fuck, Allie. What meth lab of an elementary school lets kids run around barefoot and doesn't have an adult somewhere who is capable of noticing a kid leaves the building every time she has to pee?

This whole saga makes me want to home school my kids, and yes, I do understand they will dress poorly forever, but you know what?! At least they won't have asshole teachers who tell them stories so terrifying they brave fucking blizzard conditions to poop.

Beckles said...

i'm not sure if the same rule applies to skeleton men as it does for zombies...but you should probably keep a scythe beside your bed or on your person at all times in case you have to decapitate him. just be sure it's not Boyfriend before you start swinging, or that could end badly.

JustLinda said...

Um.

I think you forgot the last paragraph. You know, the one that ends with the line 'happily ever after'.

Right? You forgot it. WHERE'S THE PUNCHLINE BECAUSE I'M ALONE IN A HOTEL AND I NEED TO HEAR THE PUNCHLINE!!!

Sharon Needles said...

I had a friend who was terrified to use the outhouse or bathroom at night, because she believed that just under the seat, there lived The Man Who Grins. Even as an adult, she persisted in believing in the existence of this creepy bathroom being. One time, after finally convincing herself that the outhouse was safe to use, and that The Man Who Grins was a fable, she was terrified by the rustling of a skunk or other animal under the seat.

No more outhouse for her. Evar.

Nikole said...

That better have been one hell of a flashlight for that dude to jump in a potty hole after it.

I was at a summer camp when I was about 10 and a teenage boy climbed in one as some type of horrible teenage boy dare that only teenage boys do and I have never been the same since, I always thinks someone could be down there.

Also, I think as a child I must have heard about crabs that people get in the potty area but was young enough that I thought they were actual crabs in the toilet. I still think a big red sea crab is going to pinch my ass one from the depths of the toilet one of these days.

Susie Q - X-files scared the living shit out of me so many times it's not even funny! I don't know why my mom ever let me watch it but I do remember that episode and am still wary of underneath cars/anything. Another one that haunts me was in a public bathroom or something and bees started coming out of that hole in the side of sinks so they don't overflow (is that really what that hole is for? I've always wondered but never known...) Anyway, I'm super afraid of bees coming out of those now whenever I wash my hands in a public bathroom.

EdenSky said...

If the skeleton man really was some native american legend it's much more likely that he was out there in the woods watching you pee than hiding in a mildewy bathroom. Of course he might have been intrigued by you coming out to pee every day and eventually followed you IN to the school. Well done Ally, Way ta haunt the school for everyone else.

miss. chief said...

Yes! It totally is like that wolf thing!! But more intelligent and devious. Like ... I'm pretty sure it has a watch. You know, to know when it's midnight.

I also got super freaked out from the scene in the movie Arachnophobia where the girl gets in the shower and instead of water, spider webs come out of the shower head.

I still have to turn on the water before I get in the shower and then feel with my hand to make sure it's actually water.

Layla Winterborne said...

This has just become the most awesome story I have ever heard.

DJ Buttaskotch said...

I'm pretty sure I read in a book or medical journal somewhere that Skeleton Man is attracted to the smell of human urine. So it would make sense for his natural habitat to be a bathroom.

BlackLOG said...

There should be more teacher like that. There is not enough knicker wetting fear in todays kids....

Harini said...

You guys must have gone in groups to fight the skeleton man off. Like we all girls used to go together and when one went in to pee others to wait out and protect the one inside :P.

Joe Cap said...

"when I was 12, I was camping with my friends and one of them dropped his flashlight down the outhouse hole and then my teacher jumped in after it"...
That guy is crazy...I wouldn't jump into one of those for ANYthing!

Ben said...

Way to show your writing chops! Phenomenal post...

Samiya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MODG said...

man. I bet you had a lot of UTI's as an adult with all your pee crazy issues.

Samiya said...

i remember when I was 6 we used to have to watch these videos at school to teach us to read and there was this horrible green slimy monster in it that appeared whenever someone flushed the toilets.

I'm sure you can imagine my dilemma after being exposed to that.

Moooooog35 said...

FYI, that very same skeleton man grew up to become Steve Buscemi, so I think you're safe.

Unless you live in Hollywood.

Then you're totally fucked.

Erin said...

I was afraid to use the restroom when I was little too.. but it was because my grandparents lived in the country and we often found 'critters' in the toilet. I still thoroughly check the bowl before exposing my bare bottom..

Pearl said...

At least in bed you had the Magic Covers!

Another story hilariously told!

Pearl

P.T said...

I'm scared to look under beds at night-time. Or in a mirror with all the lights off.

I like your drawings by the way. How do you do it?

You should have an illustration column!! :)

Ale said...

Growing up I thought the toothfairy was a vampire and was absolutely terrified whenever I lost a tooth. I still assume the vampire protective sleep position even though I am now married with 2 kids.

I wonder if my neighbor growing up also shared your concern of a skeleton man as he frequently used the area behind his families garage as a toilet, right next to their wood pile. Either that or he was just jealous of the freedom their dog had. He was rather odd though as he also mad a jump rope from his mothers tampons once.

mepsipax said...

Allie...I love your cartoons. I wish all your posts had them....oh wait. Anyway, you should be a spy. If you can sneak past the teachers for that long. Also, stop littering and pick up the paper...and wash your hands.
Kisses

kate said...

How much scarrier are the woods, though, than a dank closet?? I would've figured that the Skeleton Man was out kicking it in the bushes...

cjschlottman said...

Your story held me spellbound. When I was little, we had a monster-man on the back porch under the woodpile. His name was Tanky-Bogus, and my big brother made him up to scare us little ones. It worked. Porches still give me the creeps, and I am 61!

Very good writing!

CWD said...

Allie,
Don't worry to much. So long as Skeleton Man has Orc rapist skulls to crush he's going to leave you alone.
Just to be on the safe side you should probably put up a "no skeleton man" sign. You know a skeleton in a circle with a line through it. Keep it graphic (Skeleton Man probably does not read english) and it will be effective. Signage always works on the undead.

Sabrina said...

Oh my God. That was so sad. Well, if it's any consolation, I'm sure most of your teachers are dead now anyway. Along with my first-grade teacher Mrs. Peri. Man, she was a real douche.

danielle8000 said...

Thanks for the update :) Love your drawings - they are great!

danielle8000 said...

Also, have you ever wasted any time on brokenpicturetelephone.com? I think you might like it!

Jay Ferris said...

I think your parents secretly raised you in Bigcrapistan and were just too ashamed to admit it after the careers as professional assassins finally took off.

themotherunit said...

Hi Darling,

Did Carole do this to you? What was she thinking?! If she was still living among us I'd have to have a little talk with her.......maybe I'll do it anyway.

Remember the other story she told around halloween time about the dead bodies that were cemented into the bridge or some such thing like that? I thought that was scary enough (again, WHAT WAS SHE THINKING??!) but SKELETON MAN? No closet will be safe ever again....

Incidentally, I made you another appt. at the dentist on March 3 at 10 am. Didn't know if you got my phone message. Now dear, I'm sure the dentist is just a regular person who cares very deeply about your dental hygiene and her braid doesn't contain robotic wiring, and she's surely not related to skeleton man, so just think of her as your friend, close your eyes and go to your happy place......

Love,
Mom

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

This was just odd, but funny. Oh, and I think the speed bump cartoon you posted in another entry was funny.

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

You are obviously much more intelligent than me.

I once had to pee really badly, but we had a substitute teacher, and she told us in no uncertain terms that no one was to put up their hand and ask to go to the bathroom. Me, being a very scared and shy little child, obeyed. I had to pee, and yet, I knew I could do nothing about it. So, I sat down at a desk, and then, before I knew it, I had peed in my pants, which of course ended up all over the floor. Then I got up and went to the back of the class to make paste, as the teacher asked me to. She then noticed the pee pool, and proceeded to scream at some kids, blaming them for bringing water into the classroom. Then, she told one of the little boys to clean it up.

So, I guess I was stealthy, but in a totally accidental way.