Monday, October 25, 2010

On scariness (or how a cheap mask scared the crap out of me)

I don't like to be scared. Though I love Halloween, at least the fun costume part, I hate being scared. It probably has something to do with my Type A personality. I know some people pay money to be scared, especially this time of year, at haunted houses and scary movies, but no thanks for me. Which is why for a period of about 2 minutes this....

Scary Mask 02

nearly destroyed my marriage. Allow me to explain.

Rykert's water ski club does a big fundraiser every fall. It's a haunted hay ride (do people have hay rides in other parts of the country?) through some woods where people jump out and scare you. And people, lots of people, pay for this "pleasure." Understandably, this type of production requires a lot of volunteers. We live an hour away so Rykert's only able to help out a couple times each year. This Sunday was one of those nights. I should say here that I actually don't know what goes on at this "haunted hay ride." I've never been. Not as a volunteer and certainly not as a paying customer. Based on a text message (and the rain), I believed Rykert would be home around 10. I was sitting in the basement and I heard him come in. I knew it was him because (a) the dog did not stir and (b) the heavy sound of his hiking boots in our kitchen is unmistakable. I yelled up to him a couple of times, but he didn't respond. I thought nothing of this, because he often "pretends" not to hear me.

After a few more minutes, I turn my head to yell one more time, and what was peeking around the corner at me, but this...

Scary Mask 01

This picture is a dramatization of actual events.

I screamed. A real scream. I screamed loud enough that I honestly thought our neighbors may call 911. To add insult to injury, he laughed for 5 minutes. No. Wait, he's still laughing. Who would have thought that a $1.84 mask from Walgreens could send me completely over the edge?

It made me think about the psychologically of that kind of fear. Why was I so scared anyway? I knew that it was Rykert. The problem is that to process that fact would take a few seconds, and before I had the time, my first impulse was to scream. Let me repeat, I do not like to be scared. Even the few times that I have gone to a haunted house have been miserable. Even though I know that I am paying people to dress up in costumes, reenact fake scenes with fake blood, and fake scare me on purpose, I still can't find the enjoyment.

Scary Event #1:
When I was a freshman in college, one of my friends convinced me to go with her to meet up with a bunch of guys (one of which she met in her art class) and go with them to some haunted house. Before you think this sounds like the beginning of a coed scary movie plot, I should say that these were nice guys some of who were our friends for all 4 years and beyond. We had been at college for all of 8 weeks, and took off in cabs to an unknown (to us) part of New Orleans.


The haunted house was called the House of Shock, and is still in operation according to their website (though I see that it costs $25, and I know that I didn't spend that kind of money on it 13 years ago). The House of Shock was founded by one of the guys from Pantera and his buddies, and has a metal edge. I don't remember a lot of specifics, but I do remember that while waiting in an interminable line costumed crazies came by scaring you with chainsaws (sans chains, but the sound was there). Eventually, we got into the maze, and it was truly graphic and horrifying (at least that's how I remember it). And the thing with haunted houses is that once they find a screamer (that would be me) the workers radio up ahead and target you (I swear they do). It's added ambience if they can add actual screams.

To make the whole experience a bit more frightening is that we really hadn't thought about how to get home. We were in a strange neighborhood very close to the Huey Long Bridge (which is in and of itself death-defying). It was before the ubiquity of cell phones, and there was no place to make a call and there were no cabs in sight. So we started walking, and ended up in a residential neighborhood (and a really really long ways from campus). Luckily, we didn't know any better and knocked on a door. A nice elderly woman let a bunch of college kids into her house to call cabs. It was so bizarre. Actually, she offered us a ride, and a drink. But we waited on the curb just in case it really was one of those coed scary movies.

Scary Event #2:
Fast forward a few years, we were back in Iowa and I was in law school. Rykert decided that he wanted to go to a haunted house and found one in Cedar Rapids. I reluctantly went along. I don't remember much, but I recall that it really wasn't a first rate haunted house. But I screamed the entire time nonetheless. When we finally got near the exit there was a sheriff's deputy sitting by the door, and in my loony state I was convinced that he was part of the show and that at any minute he was going to jump up and scare me. I may have said a few things to him. It wasn't pretty, and Rykert was certain that we were going to be arrested. But all's well that ends well, and thus ends my participation at haunted houses. Forever.

So the answer is, "No, I do not like scary movies."

2 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Abby said...

It must be genetic. I share your pain (and terror). Although Travis and I are laughing pretty hard at your dramatization.

Did the baby scream, too? Hope your collective heart rates have recovered...

Meagan said...

ok I have to say I laughed literally out loud (llol) at this post... bless your heart. and mine, because I am the same way. Matt thinks it's really funny to scare me in a dead sleep. He'll put his face right next to mine and then either pinch me or yell at me and I wake up and all I see is a face. Last time he did that, I hit him (not on purpose but in self-defense) --- he hasn't done that for awhile.

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