By Annette Dashofy
Why is it that we all love to be scared? And don’t try to tell me that you don’t. Just look at the popularity of horror movies. Vampires are multiplying on TV like rabbits. And need I mention Stephen King?
Halloween, of course, is the prime holiday for being terrified. Witches and mummies and ghosts and pirates roam the streets and adorn our yards. The fun part is that it’s all safe and make-believe. I’m not going to get into those dreadful times that the fear becomes real such as when sick adults spoil kids’ fun by tampering with the candy. I’ll save that for another blog on another Halloween.
I grew up in a rural setting surrounded by corn fields and cows. We NEVER got any trick-or-treaters here until my cousin built a house next door and her kids came over before heading out to prowl the more populated streets where their aunt and cousins lived. I remember one year, my mom put me in a Bugs Bunny mask and we went to visit an aunt on Halloween. I watched as costumed monsters (very SHORT monsters) appeared at her door and were gifted with small candy bars.
I think I was maybe four at the time.
Not only did we never receive trick-or-treaters, I never WENT trick-or-treating either. I feel so deprived.
However, I developed a passion for haunted houses. My first one was at a friend’s house. I helped set it up in her basement before her Halloween party. Looking back, it was pretty mild. Jell-O and spaghetti in a bowl sort of thing. Yuck.
Fast forward to my teen years when I was in 4H. I helped put together some fairly good haunted houses for the club’s annual parties. I even won a prize for scariest costume (Miss Transylvania 19-something or other) once.
During my senior high school days, Campus Life put on Scream in the Dark every year and Washington Park had their Dark in the Park. Both were wonderfully spooky with chainsaw wielding ghoulies jumping out from behind caskets and mummies grabbing at you when you were busy eyeballing that vampire behind the tree.
I thought my haunted house days were over until last week. My mom has been rehabbing from hip surgery at a nursing home for the past few months. This place is great. Their recreational department goes above and beyond to provide entertainment for the patients and full-time residents alike. When I saw that they were having a haunted house in the rec hall, I asked my mom if she wanted to go. She thought about it and to my surprise, agreed. In all of her 87 years, Mom had never been through a haunted house before.
How scary could it be? I reasoned. They couldn’t make it too bad. After all, the patients and residents there are mostly OLD. They wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone having a heart attack. Would they? Then again, they were just saying that all the beds were full. Maybe they needed to open up some space for those needing to come in.
With Mom in her wheelchair, we waited in line with teenagers and parents with small children as well as a few other invalid patients. But mostly it was kids. I was getting worried. Apparently, the staff’s and residents’ families were mostly the ones taking part. What if this really was too frightening for my elderly mother?
Well, we had a blast. I assume the actors dressed in the gory costumes played it up or down depending on who was coming through at the moment. But there was the usual haunted house line-up. Vampires, ax-toting bloody specters, large hairy spiders, mummies and some ghost pirates to name a few. We screamed and laughed and had a grand time being scared.
Okay, time to share your favorite tales of being scared and loving it. And Happy Halloween! Boo!