Since it’s Halloween time, and ghosts, goblins and haunted houses are popping up everywhere, I thought I would write about some of the most, um, memorable events of Halloween past. I hope I can easily describe it so that you can see how ridiculous I truly am 98% of the time. And let’s not even bring up clowns. Clowns are at a completely different “Freak the BLANK out” level. Let’s not go there. They ARE evil. We can leave it at that.
The very first memory I have of going to a haunted house was with my parents and my brother, Craig. It was dark and I remember feeling very nervous about what we were doing. I was sitting in the backseat with Craig, looking out the window, wondering why we were driving so far away. “One of these Nights” by The Eagles was playing on the radio and to this day, when I hear that song, it reminds me this night. (Maybe it should’ve been “Witchy Woman“, but no.) We arrived at the Haunted Train in Clintonville and my legs were shaking and I was so scared. It was dark. There were creepy noises being piped in over loud speakers, but to a little girl already terrified, I thought they were real. People were walking around but it still felt like we were alone. As we entered the first train car, I got my first glimpse of scary characters and I closed my eyes. Hard. Like Super-Glued shut. I held my Moms hand as we walked through the cars, me not looking at anything. Just letting her guide me. My brother was behind me, and I don’t know what he was doing because all I could focus on was getting the heck outta there. As we finally exited, a HUGE dude (He just HAD to be 7 feet tall!) dressed up like Frankenstein came chasing after us out of the boxcar. My little brother turned around and saw this guy and balled up his little fist and POW!!!!! He socked that huge man right in the gut. I mean, square in the stomach. “Frank” was not prepared for this assault from a little boy and let out the loudest “Oooooomph!!” that it made us laugh. Here’s this grown man (who in reality was probably just a normal sized person, just looked big to little kids) who just got leveled by a child. And that is the story of why there are signs at every haunted house now saying not to touch the actors and they won’t touch you. (Ok, that might not be THE incident that precipitated those signs, but I think we had something to do with it.)
Ever since the stupid Haunted Train that scarred me for life, I haven’t exactly been a fan of Haunted Houses. I’m actually more scared of hauntings, witchcraft, demon, devil stuff than I am of slasher type scary stuff. I can watch Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street and be perfectly fine. Put on The Exorcist or even The Blair Witch Project (the first time I saw it) and that stuff freaks me right out. The Omen? Amityviile Horror?? Um NOOOO!!! Amityville freaked me out so bad after I read that book that I refused, straight up refused, to go in our den at home because it had red carpet, it was the corner of the house and I was convinced I would go in there and discover one of the windows covered with flies. Nope. Not going in there. Problem was, I ironed my dad’s work shirts in there. I had to beg my mom to go in, get the ironing board and supplies and I would gladly iron……in the family room!!
My brother and I also watched Salem’s Lot on TV. You know, the REAL one with David Soul. C’mon, you’re old enough to remember that. There was a scene where one of the vampire’s was floating up and and down outside a bedroom window. Up and down. Up and down. I can’t remember for sure, but I think it was Craig, who said he looked like the guy from the Yoplait yogurt commercial. The one where they were ballerina’s and kind of bobbing up and down singing “Yo-plait Yo-gurt”. We still do that to this day, bob up and down singing that silly song while talking about David Soul in Salem’s Lot.
But as most of us know, in high school, every October, gangs of us would show up at a different haunted house each weekend and try to find the scariest. There’s two problems with me being a judge on that subject: A) You have to keep your eyes open and B) They’re all scary, so really, there’s nothing to discuss. But here’s where scary turns to embarrassment turns to funny turns to acceptance. And I’m ready to let you in on a little known secret about me. (Ok, not so little, as most people who know me, have known me or knew me but wish they could forget me.) I have discovered there are 3 safe ways for me to go to a haunted house. First way is to bring a change of clothes with me, in the car, so that when, not if, but when I pee my pants I have clothes I change into. Using the darkness of the parking lots, it’s very easy to slip on the new DRY clothing and then go about the night. Second would be to wear Depends and keep a pair of dry underwear in my coat pocket just in case it’s SUPER scary. Or third, “I’ll just wait out here for you guys!” The third option is not very fun, so that one is only for extreme circumstances, like squads being called for other people who have gone through or people throwing up as they’re exiting. That might not be the right place for me.
My boys have developed an unnatural fondness of haunted houses and I honestly don’t appreciate it. I used to have to take them and their friends because it was always a birthday treat. (They both have birthdays this week!) When Rob was younger, he got so scared at one haunted place he literally dug his heels into the gravel walkway and refused to budge. It was one of those places where you go from building to building and get scared inside AND out. He decided in the middle of it that he was done, dug his heels in and would not go one more step. Being in his fragile position many years previous, I asked one of the scary masked actors to please, please for the love of all things good and Holy to let me just take him out. He kindly took off his mask, walked us over the trip wires, electrical cords and assorted cables out to the safety of main lot where we waited for our friends with some hot chocolate. I didn’t need to change my clothes that night.
Ryan on the other hand has ALWAYS loved scary stuff. Movies, haunted houses, blood, gore, ickiness. A spider can cause him to scream like a girl, but the scarier the movie the better. I have been taking him to see scary movies since he was very young. Too young. He loves them. He analyzes them. Remembers details that I would like to forget. He looks forward to FrightFest on AMC every October. He scans the channels looking for the 836th airing of Jason V Freddie. He looks forward to each new scary movie that comes out. He wants to go to the Haunted Reformatory in Mansfield. I don’t know if I could do that. A friend just went there over the weekend. It looks terrifying. I think I would need a change of clothes AND Depends. And even with those two things in place, I still might choose option 3.