I’m not a big fan of Halloween. Don’t get me wrong–I like carving pumpkins, making caramel apples, and coming up with fun costumes for me and the kids. And who doesn’t love to eat candy by the fist-full? My dislike stems from the fact that I don’t like to be scared. I don’t like scary movies or haunted houses. And with the deteriorating efficiency of my bladder, I don’t much care for anyone to crouch behind the sofa, waiting for me to pass by so he or she can jump out at me. Not my idea of fun.
I’ve had very limited experiences with haunted houses, but the few times I have “got my scare on” they’ve been fairly well rounded. I’ve been the person being scared and also the person who scares others. I didn’t care for either role.
When I was in high school, a bunch of people from our class went to a friend’s house for a bonfire or some other autumn-related activity. Once it got really dark, several boys arranged a haunted woods atmosphere for us to walk and scream through. The prelude to this uncomfortable adventure was a Jason-esque fellow who revved a chainsaw in our faces. I’m pretty sure I had classes with this doofus but his maniacal attempt to scare us was still unnerving. (If he had only put this much energy into learning geometry…) My friend and I ran through the haunted woods but I got not even a second of enjoyment from it. I realize now I’m just not the Haunted House type. I assume you have to be a girlfriend to a burly boyfriend you can hang on and hide behind or a Goth freak to truly enjoy the scariness of it. I was just too much of a nerd to get it. I remember coming out the other end of the woods and seeing a goat in a pen. Then my friend and I discussed the relevance of the goat to an episode of Quantum Leap we had just seen. Did I mention I was a nerd?
My other memory associated with a haunted house was also in high school but in a different location—our church building. At the time, my family worshipped in a building downtown with several floors. The upper floors had previously been used as apartments but by the time we were there, the rooms were empty and dark and very creepy. A bunch of us staged a haunted house and kids from the inner city were bussed in to see it. Because these kids didn’t have it bad enough and what they really needed was some white people to scare their pants off at a church building. Being a team player, I volunteered to lie down in a makeshift coffin in one of the cobwebby corners of the stairwell. When a group of unsuspecting kids were ushered by, it was my job to rise up slowly and say something vaguely vampire-like. I got ready to do my shtick for one group as they stopped by my coffin. When I rose up, a upper elementary age girl took one look at me and punched me squarely in the face. Who could blame her? That was the end of my vampire phase.
Personally speaking, it’s ludicrous to pay someone to scare you. I don’t need zombies or werewolves or vampires to get the willies. In real life, there’s plenty of stuff to scare us. Government shut downs, Ebola outbreaks, and killer bees to name a few. Why should we make up even more? So every year, I suffer through Halloween because I know what’s on the other side: Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are the only things that make the holiday gauntlet of Halloween worth getting through.