Which would be one explanation why every time I see one, I (nearly) jump out of my skin, barring the Statue of Liberty and actually not much else. But even though they scare the life forces out of me, I have a not-so secret fascination with these megalithic statues. And by megalithic I mean anything over about ten feet in size. I’m 5″2, and while tall people don’t scare me, I do tend to do a double take when I see someone over 7 feet tall.
The statues, however, are a whole different thing. The first time I noticed that they were better avoided was when we were going somewhere with my friend, and she insisted to her dad that he park the car, so we could walk across the bridge. The local equivalent to the Ritz-Carlton (but only in the town’s mind) had splurged on a Löwenbräu statue for a few weeks. This being Germany and with Swabians being super stingy – Swabians live by stinginess (not cleanliness) is next to godliness – it was a huge deal.
Löwe means lion in German, and that’s exactly what they had, a way-too-big statue of epic proportions standing right by the sidewalk. As if that weren’t enough, every fifteen minutes or so the damn thing would roar, and raise its triple pint (or whatever the proper expression is, a) I don’t drink beer, and b) just think Oktoberfest). I had nightmares about it for weeks. My friend, who was one year older than me, loved it.
Can’t say for sure if that was the trigger, or if other factors weighed in. We moved and traveled a lot when I was growing up, mainly between Europe and America, so there must have been a few of them along the way. Either they didn’t scare me and were therefore insignificant, or they completely traumatized me and I chose to forget by blocking it out thoroughly and completely.
The next one I remember was the statue on Gellért Hill, Hungary’s very own Statue of Liberty. The first time I saw it, I was fifteen. My dad was giving me a tour of Budapest, and I remember approaching with trepidation. But I also remember sitting there, on top of the hill, in some type of makeshift café.
Five years later, I insisted a friend take me. It was on his itinerary as well. We might not have made it completely up the hill, because we were goofing off too much. But the statue was there. Several years later, when I was in college, my frenemy – upon hearing about my fear – literally dragged me there in the middle of the night, before we went clubbing, using a combination of daring and cajoling tactics, only to stop in front of the statue with the words, “there! What’s so scary about the damn thing?”
She meant well, and truly it was more beautiful than scary up there (the view from the hill is pretty out of this world). But there was something about the statue that irked me so badly I had to write a poem about it. An English teacher I hated assessed it for me and commented on how dark it was, ending with the words, “you and Edgar Allan Poe.” I hated the teacher, so I started hating Poe. I hadn’t even realized it was gothic. In fact I was pretty convinced it was just a poem about fear. And since I managed to lose it, we’ll never know.