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!


  1. I'm sensitive to scary movies, too. I even refused to watch Lord of the Rings for at least year after it came out based on peoples descriptions of how freaky the Nasgul were. I can watch it now, and love the trilogy, actually, but yeah... I'm careful about what I watch.

    Speaking of scarred from adolescence, when I was in 5th grade I saw some made-for-TV horror B-movie about inescapable nightcrawlers. They'd eat through walls and roofs of cars to eat people from the inside out. I've never been able to touch a worm since and even get squeamish when they're on the sidewalk after a good rain. Give me snakes over worms any day!

  2. About five years ago I watched "The Village" by myself. That movie wasn't even that scary, and I still slept with the light on that night.

  3. yes, well, my ever so sensitive husband (not!) made me watch paranormal activity and I've never been the same!
    I also saw my share of Freddy movies as a kid and the rhyme still freaks me out...although what you started completed itself in my head- freaky!