What Was I Scared Of? The Pale Green Pants Of Dr. Seuss

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If you want your kids to grow up horror fans, you might consider starting them out on this.

I’ve pretty much been planning on writing about this since I began contributing to iHorror, but after reading John Squires’ article about Halloween is Grinch Night, I found myself in the proper frame of mind, and decided now was as good a time as any.

What Was I Scared Of? by Dr. Seuss has been one of my favorite stories since I encountered it pretty much when I was learning to read, and when I think about the earliest influences of my life that led to my obsession with horror, I can’t think of an earlier example. Well, that and the first dream I ever remember having, which involved me being chased by a cartoon pair of white shoes with nobody in them, which just happens to be a strikingly similar plot to this particular story, though I’m pretty sure I had the dream before encountering Seuss’ book. Perhaps that’s why I identified with it so much.

Though it’s since been released in a standalone version, What Was I Scared Of? originally appeared in The Sneetches and Other Stories. The whole book is gold if you’re a Seuss fan (I was obsessed with Seuss as a kid, and his work still pretty much accounts for the majority of my favorite children’s books).

The basic premise is that some little guy is wandering around at night doing various things, and he keeps seeing a pair of “pale green pants with nobody inside them,” which is obviously terrifying. He was, of course scared, but in the end finds that the pants are just as scared of him as he was of them. They then become friends. Aha! Lesson learned. Classic Seuss.

Here’s somebody reading the story, in case you’re unfamiliar with it:

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I don’t know that I really have a point with this post, other than to draw more attention to this wonderful story, and pay it tribute. If you have kids, you should pick it up, as it’s one of those rare children’s books that will bring you as much joy as it does them. I recommend grabbing the whole Sneetches collection in fact.

I also figured that as long as I’m writing about What Was I Scared Of? and the infamous Pale Green Pants, I might as well share some other related nuggets I’ve encountered from around the web.

For example, here’s a fan film adaptation:

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Here’s somebody’s tribute from Flickr:


Here’s a nice model of the pants someone shared at Craftster:

Pale Green Pants

“I made them for my little sister for her 25th birthday, out of a pair of 6mo pants my daughter had just outgrown,” the artist explains. “I used a piece of aluminum wire in the waistband, and then soaked it in liquid porcelain. I molded and shaped pieces of aluminum foil around plastic bags (for bulk) and stuffed them in until I had the shape right, then let them harden. And this is what I got.”

This guy also made a pants puppet as well as “Grin-itch spinach” plants (which make sense if you’re familiar with the story) for a bunch of kids.

“I don’t really know how to explain how we made this puppet, but it involved an old pair of my daughter’s pants, a pool noodle, a drill, crumpled newspaper, a wooden spoon, duct-tape, and needle and thread,” he says. “The wooden spoon goes through the pants and a pool noodle which was sewn to the pants.”

Finally, one woman took her kid’s green pants, stuffed tissue paper inside of them, and then posed them doing different things.

Pale Green Pants Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss Pale Green Pants

Check out the full gallery here.

While there’s certainly not enough of it around the web from what I can tell, it makes me happy to see such enthusiasm for this story from those who have shared their own projects.

I’ve watched a lot of movies and read a lot of stories over the years, but there are only a handful of either that I can directly credit for my passion for for horror. What Was I Scared Of? is one of them, if not the first. So thanks for that, doctor.