Boogeyman in the Basement (Legend)

Original Text: “Have you heard people be like ‘Oh watch out for the Boogeyman!’ or whatever? Yeah, I feel like that is a very common legend, but on my dad’s side of the family, they live in like Nowheresville, Michigan [informant made a joke but the actual place is Utica, Michigan] they were always like ‘Oh don’t go down in the basement, the Boogeyman is there right now!’ like, ‘Go down there tomorrow’. And they would do this with just about anything. They have a farm so they would be like ‘Don’t go in the barn, the Boogeyman is there!’ or something. It’s something I took very seriously, and if someone told me about the Boogeyman in the context of my hometown in Florida I would be like ‘Oh that’s not real’ but then there in Michigan I was like ‘Oh this is real, it exists here, in my uncle’s basement’. I feel like in my head I had a whole visualization of what this guy looked like and what he was doing, and when people would tell me the Boogeyman was around I would sit there for like an hour in my seat and be like ‘Oh my Lord the Boogeyman is coming! He’s gonna get us!’. And I think this was around when I was like 4ish years old, but it went on for a while until I got to the point where I was like ‘Nah there ain’t no Boogeyman, why can’t I go down in the basement?’ The narrative my family sold me around it was like ‘He’s gonna get you cuz he knows who we are and we are friends, but he doesn’t know you so’.”

Context: The informant is a college student at the University of Southern California. The informant is from Florida but has family in Michigan. She describes that the Boogeyman was used by her uncle’s family to deter her from something or not allow her to be in a space the adults did not want her in. All the adults were in on the story.

Analysis: As the informant stated, the Boogeyman was a figure used by the adults in her family to keep her out of spaces she wasn’t allowed in, like the basement. Because the story of the Boogeyman was coming from an adult audience that the informant trusted, it’s likely that the story carried more legitimacy, pointing as to why it had such an effect on her. The informant also reveals how she was convinced the Boogeyman could only exist on her farm in Michigan and not in her larger hometown in Florida. A rural area with lots of open space and a lack of population compared to her hometown in Florida potentially was a strange shift for the informant and caused her to be wary of the unknown she faced. In this case, it would be plausible for a creature like the Boogeyman to be hiding in a place not familiar to her. The separation between the knowledge of the Boogeyman between the informant as a child and her adult family also indicates the hierarchy and age politics that exist between the two groups. Only adults would understand the subtext behind the “Boogeyman”, including them in that folk group.