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The Thing About Mirrors.

Lately, I'd been thinking about mirrors. And the idea that they're a reflection of the world around us ...until they decide to show you something different. For the record, I find them unnerving. Not always, but, yeah. Even in the light of day, I find them unsettling. More unsettling at night.

Looks like I'm not the only one.

From childhood, I can't remember having had such an issue with mirrors. And that's despite - for me - one of horror cinema's nastiest moments; in the film Poltergeist, where the guy's mirror reflection tears its face off. That scene made a big impression on me as a kid; even now, thinking about it, it's such a hideous and terrifying scene. It's brilliant. Outside of a horror film, I think I might have seen a ghost at around the same time in my childhood. This was one Christmas, where Mama had, as usual, put up the Christmas tree in the living room. And, as usual, switched the tree lights off, so the tree could be seen in the darkness from the evening street outside. And, as per usual, I'd go into the room alone in the evening to look at the tree lights. Only, on one particular occasion, I'd seen what I thought was a ghost behind the living room door.

Now, me being young and kind of impressionable, I bolted from the room. But, to be fair, we used to have a mirror that hung behind the door - so maybe it was the mirror playing tricks on me. And/or a trick of the light. But even then, I had no real issues with mirrors.

I honestly have no idea why that's changed over all those years.

In horror films, there's a trope where a character will look into a mirror, look away, and then look back - only for a monster to have revealed itself. A horrible-looking thing, no doubt; ruined, demonic, whatever. Such a physical appearance, to me, is icing on the cake. It's the fact that the reflection doesn't match the real world - or at least the perception of it. That's unnerving.

This was the selling point for me to go and watch Black Swan when it came out; Natalie Portman's character backed up to the glass as her reflection turns to look at her in contempt.


As a kid, I was painfully shy and awkward. Now, as a grown man, I'm anything but. I don't spend a whole lot of time in the mirror, but I have the confidence and maturity to like and accept what I see. If I don't, then I can work on changing it, right?

But I don't mind telling you that each of those moments almost feels like daring the mirror to let its guard down. On some, 'here's what I think.' So there'll be times when I don't dare look at a mirror, especially if I'm alone in the house. At night. Or out of town in a hotel; during the day, let alone at night. Those mirrors have infinite patience; waiting for that moment to show you something you really don't want to see.

Let alone visit you on your side of the glass.



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