Portions of this post were originally posted 10-17-08, but since it had NO comments, I felt pretty safe re-posting a revised edition.
You know what I don't like? I don't like Haunted Houses. Or Haunted Hayrides. Or Haunted much of anything. Tom says I'm ridiculous. Most of you will, too, probably. My line of reasoning is this: If I were a deranged killer, these are the sort of places where I would seek employment. This would be an easy place to get away with murder. The kids are very tempted by these attractions. I won't go. I have been convinced that I'm being irrational. But I still won't go. If he wants to take them, I won't stop them. But I won't join them, either. I. Don't. Like. Haunted stuff.
My aversion to haunted house/designed to scare stuff goes way back.
When I was 10 or 11, I was a big fan of Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn. When a family vacation found us spending the night in Hannibal Missouri, the home of Mark Twain and the setting for my beloved stories, my parents had no trouble indulging me with visits to Tom Sawyer's fence, Mark Twain's homestead, and the Becky Thatcher house. They did not, however, want to take me into the Haunted House on Hill Street. I was too young, I'd be scared. My sister was 2 years younger than me. Definitely too scary. But I begged and I pleaded and I pleaded and I begged and I showed the brochures to my sister who agreed it looked like just the coolest thing ever and she joined me in the pleading and begging and my mother eventually caved. Dad didn't. He didn't approve, and he wouldn't go. If she wanted to take two small children into a walk-through haunted house, she was on her own. She looked at our sincere pleading little faces and decided she could handle it. Foolish woman! As soon as that first puff of cold air hit our ankles, my sister and I were scared too stiff to move. My mother was able to talk them into letting us come out the way we went in, but there would be no refund. My sister and I cried and my father went into "I told you so" mode and we lost a nice chunk of change. That's what she got for being a nice guy.
A year or two later, I decided it would be a good idea to read "The Exorcist". My mother did not agree. She forbid it. You will not read that book and you will not bring that book into this house. The foot had spoken. Except my 12 year old self thought I was a little smarter than the owner of the foot and I knew what was good for me better than she did. Ahem. So a battered paperback copy was sneakily transported from a friends home to their bookbag to my bookbag. And I read it cover to cover. And I didn't sleep properly for 2 weeks. My mother, for the first time in my life, locked her bedroom door. No crying to her and interrupting her sleep because I thought I knew better. Worst punishment ever.
When I was 9 - 9, folks - making my sister, if you're following along - 7! - My parents, along with my aunt and uncle and 2 cousins all loaded into my uncle's Dodge Charger and headed to the drive-in. Ok, first off, do the math, that's 4 adults and 4 kids in a Charger similar to this one. The grown-ups wanted to see Play it Again Sam. And really, what 9 year old isn't a big Woody Alan fan, eh? So, ok, not necessarily an appropriate choice, but whatever. An outing is an outing. We unloaded the lawn chairs and the kids set them up in the parking space next to the car. Can you say white trash? I thought you could. Now anyone who remembers drive-ins also remembers, no doubt, that they were always double features. On this particular night, the second film was (the not yet cult classic) Let's Scare Jessica to Death. Also, please recall, that in those days you didn't listen to the movie through your car stereo - you listened to it through little speakers that you attached to your window. Well, at a particularly scary moment in the movie, I panicked. I wanted my mom. I screamed and ran for the car. Except I was disoriented and I ran for the wrong car, knocking their speaker out of their window at a particularly tense point in the movie and causing them to scream. At this point my mother is screaming, too, because she realizes it's me causing all this ruckus. So I'm screaming, man in the car is screaming and Mom is screaming. This disruption to the movie causes all the cars around us to start blowing their horns and - well - yelling more than screaming. It was - memorable.
I just don't do well with scary.
One more story.
Fast forward to my late teens.
Where I grew up, everyone knew the legend of Becky's Grave. It was something everyone always talked about, but one night we decided it was time to pay old Becky a visit. There was a carload of us, and, yes, it's true: we'd been drinking a little. Maybe a lot. Probably a lot. We parked the car, and I'll never forget it - the radio (Or was it a cassette? Or perhaps an eight- track?) was playing Alice Cooper: Dead Babies. We left it on while we went trekking through the woods. I was starting to get a little creeped out, as one will when one is pursuing a ghost in the woods on a cool Autumn night with a couple few beers in one. Then, just as one of my friends proclaimed: "there it is!" I tripped into a little ditch. I am so completely freaked out at this point, I don't know which way is up, and as I try to pull myself to an upright position, it seems that the roots on the ground have conspired to keep me down. Why yes, this was around the time Evil Dead came out. Why do you ask?
So, yeah. I'm older and wiser now and would really rather live without the thrills. But I understand why my girls want to pursue them. Lucky for them, they have a more-than-willing dad.
Happy Halloween, (just a little bit early), ya'll.