I’ve gotten in the habit over these past several months of choosing a random question to answer on “Deep Thought Thursdays” (some thoughts have been decidedly deeper than others). I’m not sure how deep this one is, but being the season of ghouls and goblins, I found a rather timely question at The Daily Post this morning, in their Daily Prompt: Fright Night.
Do you like being scared by books, films, and surprises? Describe the sensation of being scared, and why you love it — or don’t.
I’ll read a scary book (which may or may not have a lingering effect…see Tuesday’s post about It) and occasionally watch a scary movie (the hubby loves this, as he comes home from the theater with an armful of bruises where I’ve grabbed him). I can close the book or close my eyes if things get too intense. But I absolutely cannot handle scary surprises. Namely haunted houses.
I think I was about eight years old. There was a special party for all the kids who had collected money for UNICEF while trick-or-treating. My younger brother had filled his little cardboard house with donated coins, but was sick the night of the party, so I alone donned my costume and Mom and I set off. The school gym was filled with apple bobbing stations, bowls of peeled grape eyeballs and cold macaroni brains, and boatloads of cupcakes–all the things you’d expect at an elementary Halloween party. There was also a haunted house. Even at that young age, I was not fond of being scared, but I agreed when Mom asked if I wanted to go through it. I knew that with her by my side, I’d be okay.
Except when it came time to walk through the haunted house, Mom was not invited. An older girl, probably a high school student, was a guide for the haunted house, said it was just for kids, and promised she’d stay with me the whole time. I resisted, more than happy to skip the whole thing to stay with my mom and eat another cupcake, but was eventually coerced into going with the guide. Turns out other kids’ parents got to come into the haunted house. Also turns out the guide was not just a guide. She was an actor, and needed a young sidekick in a supporting role to sell the story that had been devised for this very elaborate haunted house. Way too elaborate for elementary kids. Way too realistic for young, impressionable children. Way. Too. Scary.
By the time we neared the exit, I was practically climbing up the guide to escape the hands reaching out of the darkness from all sides, no mean feat since I was simultaneously covering my ears to escape the screams and groans from the other actors and covering my eyes to escape the strobe lights and the frightening images revealed with each flash. I thought my hell had finally come to an end when the guide reached for the doorknob to let us out of the haunted house, only to find there was one last surprise. The knob was rigged to shock her, and she fell to the floor gasping with her final breath that we should leave her behind, save ourselves.
I was mad that she promised my mom to see me safely through and was now dying on the floor. I was scared to death being left to fend for myself. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. But there was no way on this earth I was touching that doorknob. Finally some other kid’s dad came bravely forward and we were free. I nearly trampled a ghost, a princess, and a pirate trying to get back to my mother, and nearly dislocated her shoulder trying to pull her out of the gym.
To this day, more than three decades later, I cannot walk through a haunted house. A couple months ago, the hubby and I went through the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds in London. By “went through” I mean that I ran as fast as the guide’s pace would allow, dragging the hubby in my wake. He wanted to linger and enjoy all the actors jumping out at us from dark corners. I wanted to get the hell out of there.
There was a commercial on TV the other night for a nearby theme park’s Halloween Haunt. Essentially the entire park becomes a giant haunted house. I’m not sure once you’re through the gates that there is anywhere safe to escape the “bloodcurdling horror and nightmarish madness.” Hubby asked if I wanted to go. I was instantly nauseous. Uhh, thanks, but NO. I’d rather stay home and reread It. Or maybe poke my eyes out with a stick.