I love Halloween. What's not to love about dressing up and eating lots of candy? But I'm not a big fan of going through haunted houses – or haunted trails, tunnels, barns, fields, forests, malls, closets, and shoe boxes. For that matter, I don't like watching scary movies – unless they're SyFy originals. And the lights are on. And I control the remote.
I'm not exactly sure when I turned into such a big weenie. I used to like reading scary stories and watching scary movies (remember “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park”?) and I … tolerated … the local Jaycee's annual Haunted Whatever.
But somewhere along the way all that frightening stuff lost its appeal.
And I got along just fine until the Princess hit the teen years and decided she needed to experience all things spooky. Luckily her friends have parents much braver than I am (and they are too kind to point that out).
I've tried to look at my fear of fear-inducing activities rationally. I know that psychologically, scary movies, etc., can provide a “safe” way to face our fears. A horror movie or trip to a haunted house can provide a cathartic experience, just like watching a tear-jerking movie can make you feel better. But that rational viewpoint is the first thing to get catharsis-ed right out of me when some rubber-masked ghoul surprises me.
It's not like I think that vampire rising out of the cardboard box is actually going to “get” me. I know the difference between reality and make-believe, possible and impossible. A few examples: Zombies taking over the world? Impossible. (They lack the fine motor skills needed to fill out a voter registration form. Except in Chicago.). Chainsaw wielding maniac hacking me to bits? Impossible. (I know better than to walk through the darkened woods when that creepy violin music is playing.) Eric Balfour and Colin Firth fighting over me? Improbable (one lives in the US, the other in the UK).
Whatever the real reason, I've deluded myself into believing that I don't like horror movies/haunted houses because reality is more scary than any fantasy. Just a few of the real life things that scare me more than any haunted house could:
- Fitting rooms with florescent lights – As if the fun-house inspired mirrors weren't bad enough (my ass isn't really that big, is it?), those florescent lights give my cellulite the attractive pallor of the living dead.
- Pregnancy tests – At this time in my life, a positive pregnancy test for me (theoretically possible) would result in a heart attack; a positive test for the Princess would result in me behind bars.
- College tuition – For the Princess' sake, I hope Netflix starts offering scholarships. The Little Prince may end up playing his drums on street corners for donations.
- Yearbooks – In the company of friends, yearbooks can be a source of nostalgia. In the company of your children yearbooks are a source of fashion ridicule. Knowing that what comes around goes around doesn't help.
- Family car rides – Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?
- The shiny reflection at the bottom of an empty coffee can – My own personal worst fear could lead to my family's worst nightmare: Me without my morning coffee.
These are a few of my most fearful things, but in the spirit of Halloween, I've conjured up my vision of the most frightening, most realistic, most terrifying haunted house ever... enter if you dare:
The House of Eternal Clutter!
The first stop in this horror-provoking attraction is the (Abandon Hope All Ye Who) Entry Way: Sort through piles of abandoned shoes, bags, coats and other assorted detritus to clear a path through this deceptively small looking room and make your way to the...
Living (Dead) Room: Wind your way around the mountains of used tissues, stacks of papers and perilously leaning towers of books, and climb over haphazardly strewn blankets and pillows in your quest to find the three remotes required to activate the television and trigger the exit door. Once you figure out the right combination of buttons you may enter the...
Slumberless Bedchamber: Get your mind out of the gutter! By the time you sort, fold, and put away all the laundry accumulated on the king (kong)-sized bed, you'll be too tired to think of anything other than escape. Drag your bleary-eyed self to …
Rapuzel's Bathroom: Hair, hair everywhere, and not a bottle of Liquid Plumr to be found. The only drain not sporting a clump of hair the size of a housecat is the toilet, and it is filled with a roll of toilet paper. You'd better hope that plunger unclogs the passage to the final room on this tour...
(Hell's) Kitchen: You can see the parking lot from here! To earn your freedom all you have to do is prepare a nutritious breakfast... and wash the dishes in time to make a hearty lunch... and wash dishes in time to cook a bountiful dinner... and wash dishes... and plan for tomorrow's meals....
Enough, you say! Make a run for it! Jump over the laundry baskets, dodge the overflowing wastebaskets, stumble over the shoes piled in front of the exit! Freedom, sweet freedom!
But wait! The house has reset. All that cleaning you did has been undone! You're going to have to start all over again!
Hmmmm... that sounds awfully familiar. Are those shrieking violins I hear?