Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Joy of Terror

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!


Tory said...

I don't like being scared. I used to tell people I didn't go to see horror films because, "Real life is scary enough."

And I don't watch those "real life mystery" kind of shows just before I go to bed, because then I don't sleep well.

Just call me a wimp and leave it at that.

Today I'm leading 45-odd staff through a training on consumers who hoard, and much of what I'm teaching I've never done with this kind of group. I'll admit it - I'm terrified! Is that good enough?

Annette said...

Sounds pretty creepy to me, Tory. Good luck!

mike said...

Tory--Save me a seat...I'm probably more of a wimp than you when it comes to horror. It's so bad I've never been able to read an Anne Rice book...tried once but only got thru the first 20 pages before I had to put it down.

I grew up in a big stone farmhouse built in 1790 that creaked and groaned, esp. at night. I slept with a cross by my bed and put myself to sleep at night reading the an 8 and 9 year old, I didn't understand much of it but it was comforting.

I get enough horror every day driving the Parkway West to and from work everyday and watching reruns of Bewitched!

Nancy said...

I'm a wimp, too. Never been to a haunted house. But have I fussed enough that everybody should read World War Z?? It's out in paperback now. Just saying.

Annette said...

Hey, the Parkway West rates pretty high on the horror scale! Driving it on a daily basis is enough to turn you into a screaming, ranting monster. I know. I've seen enough of them in other cars on Greentree hill.

brenda said...

Ok girl. I want to se PICTURES of your prize winning costume!

Annette said...

Well, Brenda, there WAS one, but I think it's in the 4H club's scrapbook. And considering how long ago that was, the photo has probably faded and turned pink by now. But I had long green spray-painted hair, Alice Cooper makeup, and a slinky black dress. Oh, yeah, and I carried a flashlight with a skull's head on it.

Use your imagination.

Gina said...

I love horror! I've read most of Anne Rice and lots of Stephen King and Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell, et al. For awhile, Anne Rice was my favorite author before I became obsessed with J.K. Rowling. Some of my many unpublished writings are in the horror genre.

As far as haunted houses go, I loved the Haunted Flower Show that used to be held at Phipps Conservatory. That place is creepy enough, what with the dripping overhanging plants and leaves that brush your face and that dark little tunnel underpass. The Haunted Flower Show was dimly lit and people would hide in the bushes and reach out to grab you or leap out brandishing weapons. It was great.

Joyce said...

We used to take our kids to the haunted houses. Andy was always petrified, while Josh, who is 4 years younger, would pretty much yawn and say, "Is that it?"

Can you guess which kid is more like me? :-)

Cathy said...

Okay, I have to admit, for a kid growing up in New Madison, Ohio, in the 50's and 60's, Halloween was about one thing and one thing alone--CANDY! We never got any, only then and at Easter. And we didn't get great gobs like they do now.

We were lucky and didn't even know it. Think of all the cavities we missed, too.

Annette said...

Yikes! Candy! Thanks for reminding me, Cathy. I need to pick some up today while I'm out JUST IN CASE we get any trick-or-treaters. Ha. Yeah, right. We NEVER get trick-or-treaters here, so the candy will be all MINE. Heh, heh, heh.

And gee, DUH, Joyce. I have no idea which son is more like his mom. LOL.

Becky said...

We never did get many trick or treaters out here in 84. The most I ever got was 15. The kids grew up and the neighborhood stopped giving out candy. Well last week I get a flier in the mail saying the kid population has grown and wouldn't it be nice if we could give them a nice Halloween. So I decorated bought candy for 35+ after all the neighborhood was growing and excitedly waited. Guess how many kids we got 15 and 9 of them where teens. What happen to all those little kids I see going to school I must be seeing double.