Monday, October 17, 2011

Dangerous Credit Lines

Yesterday, after church, we took the kids to the pumpkin farm, because some friends of ours invited our family to join theirs for the seasonal outing, and I’m currently accepting all invitations to everything. My dry erase calendar looks like there was a catastrophic marker explosion. From what I can tell, I still have a little time available on the 36th of November and maybe a lunch opening in mid-December, but that’s about it for 2011.
Back to the story though. . .we went to the pumpkin farm (the name of which I’m withholding because they don’t need any additional advertising) and as we pulled up the overflowing parking lots it was kind of disappointing, signaling we weren’t the only North Carolinians who had that idea yesterday. Judging by the crowd we endured, I’d speculate that a tenth of the population of our state was at this farm.
As we were parking on top of another minivan, my husband tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “Sorry,” I said, “I thought everyone would be at the state fair and we’d have the place to ourselves.” The kids were really excited though and already scanning the swarms of people for our friends, so I decided to just smile and to try to make it out of there at the end of the day with all three children and my sanity. (Or whatever the Heather equivalent of sanity is.)
Obstacle number one to keeping my cool was just paying to get in. (Once we got to the front of the line, which took a fortnight.) The prices at this particular pumpkin farm have $kyrocketed since we were last there three years ago. The superpass was $20 a person ($100 for my family) or there was a bare bones admission for $10, which my frugal husband opted for. “But that doesn’t come with pony rides,” Reckless pointed out. At which point we offered the twins the option to add that on if they would clean the toy room when we got home. “I wanna ride the ponies, but not clean up toys,” Stretch countered. “Yeah, well, I wanna beach house and a live in housekeeper, but life’s a compromise.”
As we passed through the gates I turned to the kids and said, “Remember today. When you’re older, I mean. Remember that we did take you places other than school and Target.” They nodded their consent and we went to get in the first of many, many lines. Some of the lamer options, like the hay jump, didn’t have lines. But if you wanted to do the giant mountain slide, you had to pack an overnight bag.
My son decided he wanted to do the “jumping pillow” and I told him that his pass didn’t include that, but he reminded me that he had his own money and could pay for it. He flashed me a wad of cash and I said, “Deal.” But, wait, why do you have more money than me? Lucky for us, he did though, because later, when the girls got to see those ponies up close, they caved and decided it would be worth it to clean up all the toys. (We got them to sign a legal binding document and had it notarized. With that many people, it wasn’t even hard to find a notary and a lawyer.)
We had exhausted our liquid assets getting into the farm, so we had to commandeer some of Brainy’s cash for his sisters. Looking back, I guess we essentially had our son pay our daughters to clean our house. American Dream REALIZED.
I actually thought I still had some cash back in the van, so I figured I’d repay him in the parking lot. Only I was four dollars short. My husband came up with one more Washington and we gave Brainy the five dollars. He was like, “What’s this? You owe me eight.” My husband said, “It’s a down payment. We’re good for the rest and we’ll get it to you soon.” Brainy scowled at us and started assessing interest that very second. He must have some high rates because he was already demanding eighteen before we even made it home. “Do you know how many things we buy for you?” I reminded him. “Wanna make it twenty?” he argued. I shut my mouth.
As we pulled into the driveway, my husband and I discussed if maybe we might be mismanaging our finances to end up indebted to a seven year old who’s gonna stay on us like a loan shark. Maybe. I have an idea for getting rich though. Buy a few acres of farmland, plant some pumpkin seeds, put a bunch of dried corn kernels in a big box for kids to jump in, purchase a few midget horses on their way to the glue factory, and throw around lots of hay bales and then charge people lot$ of money to stand in line all day. We’ll be printin’ money by this time next year. (Though Brainy already said I’ve only got to the end of the week to pay him back or he’s gonna hire the biggest kid in second grade to come and break my kneecaps.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nine Ten Never Sleep Again

I don’t like to be scared. I’m always looking for excitement, but I don’t want it at the cost of being afraid. Therefore, Halloween is not my favorite occasion. It’d be fine if it was all about chocolate, because I definitely believe in celebrating candy. But all the other creepy things that come along with it, like horror movies at the cinema and skeletons in peoples’ driveways make me uneasy.
When I was younger, I always thought that I’d grow out of my sensitivity to being afraid, like I’d learn to appreciate a good haunted house or terrifying movie, but I didn’t. A couple of weeks ago, I was at the theater with my friend and one of the previews was for some frightening, never-be-able-to-sleep-without-nightlight-again movie coming out this month and I turned to her and we, in unison, said, “I don’t like scary movies.”
It was reassuring to find that I’m not the only adult who shies away from intentionally terrifying myself. And that initial admission led to us disclosing that not only do we not like those things now, but that we’re still a little scarred by the experiences we had with them when we were younger. (That’s scarred not scared, though both are true in that sentence.)
For instance, I still freak out a little when I see static on a television screen, even if it's just because we don't get that channel and not because there's a demon who's reaching out and pulling me inside the TV. (I think they'd have a harder time doing that now that we have flat screens.) But, thank you Poltergeist!
And that movie came out in 1982! I was only five, so I’m sure my parents didn’t let me watch it until it made it's way to VHS, but still, whatever age I was, I couldn’t handle the thought of spirits haunting my TV. And over 25 years later, I’m still concerned that they’re there.
And a couple of decades after I was first introduced to Freddy Krueger, I can still remember the words to that scary little nursery rhyme about him: One, two, Freddy's after you. . .okay, I'm already freaking out, let's move on.
My friend and I talked about how upsetting all those haunted houses were that we went to as adolescents. Ironically, my church youth group organized a trip to one every year. It was usually something designed to freak you out about hell, show you the realities of the tormenting there and really bring it to life for you. Mission accomplished. Being forced to make my way through an entire darkened house, filled with horrifying images and blood-curdling screams, did feel like hell.
Once I even got lost and separated from my friends inside the haunted hell house. I was probably about fourteen, and I’m pretty sure that is still the most afraid I’ve ever been in my life. I was crying and trying to get some zombie “worker” person to break character and help me find my way, but that’s the thing about hell, no one’s nice enough to even think about assisting you.
And corn mazes! I hate those things! First of all, I have no sense of direction, so my only chance of ever coming out is to go in with people who can figure it out, or a mouse, or an Indian guide. And secondly, I watched Children of the Corn once and even cornfields that aren’t cut into mazes scare me. Honestly, I don’t even do well with corn on the cob when it’s on the menu.
But no one cares. People are hanging skeletons from nooses in their maple trees and turning their front yards into cemeteries, like my nightmares are my problem.
Last week, I went to Michael’s to pick up some craft supplies the twins needed for a homework project and there was a skeleton bride and groom that were propped up by the poster boards. I don’t know why the fact that these skeletons had on wedding attire made them a hundred times scarier, but it did. Skeletons = scary, Weddings = scary, so Skeletons+Weddings = I’ll never set foot in Michael’s again!
Even some of my regular television shows will have some “Halloween Episode” where they try to ratchet up the drama with some spooky stuff. Why? Can’t we just decorate with pumpkins and gourds and pay homage to Milton Hershey, Willy Wonka, and John Nestle by rotting our teeth out of our heads? (Okay, John is only a guess. And, actually, why do all these Halloween skeletons have all of their teeth? Did they die before trick-or-treating really took off? Or did they just keep up with their regular dental check-ups? That makes them seem pretty responsible, which doesn't make sense because somehow they ended up having their flesh torn clean from their bones and being used as lawn decor, which doesn't seem responsible at all!)
Regardless, I've been enjoying October, but the longer it goes on, the more tense I get, so if November could hurry up and save me from these neighborhood mausoleums and spider web covered coffins, I'd appreciate it!