I’ve got a confession to make regarding Halloween Haunted Houses. I’m making it because starting this week, then over the coming weeks, I’ll be writing extensively about all things Halloween. But especially about haunted houses. (They’re among the perfect Haunt Jaunts to make at this time of year, aren’t they?)
However, haunted houses both fascinate me and terrify me. The part of me that’s drawn to ghoulies and ghosties and all things horror to begin with wants to experience all the spine-tingling fun haunted houses provide, but…
I’m a big, fat chicken.
There. I’ve confessed it. I can’t handle haunted houses. Even the tamest, most absurd, kitschy and amateurish prove way too scary for me.
HISTORY WITH HAUNTED HOUSES
I’ve always been this way. When I was little my older sister would get a big group together every Halloween to do a haunted house or two. Inevitably someone’s shirt or sweater would be stretched out of shape by the time we made it through. (And it wasn’t always someone in our group. Sometimes I’d run ahead, trying to get out, and would crash into another group and latch on to the biggest person around.)
My sister alternated between laughing and being completely embarrassed, depending what mood she was in. We all seemed to forget from year to year that, as much as I loved haunted houses and looked forward to them, something happened to me once I ventured inside.
I’m not talking little freak outs. I’m talking full-on freaking meltdowns. Complete with crying, screaming, uncontrollable shaking…Put it this way. You take me to a haunted house and video record me. I guarantee you’ll have a YouTube hit on your hands!
THE THREE WORST EXPERIENCES
One time my dad made the mistake of taking me by himself. The site of that disaster was the old Gates Rubber plant in Denver. He paid whatever the fee was. (Exorbitant to him then because it was right after the divorce. He had very little, but he knew how much I liked all things Halloween, so a trip to the haunted house was going to be a treat.)
It was supposed to rival anything Denver had seen up to that time. (Circa early 1980s.) Just the wait to get in was fun. Lots of costumed actors scaring up the crowd, eerie music, really cool location…
Do you ever get the simultaneous feeling of dread and sheer excitement waiting for a roller coaster ride? I get that magnified by about a million when going to a haunted house.
Needless to say we made it into the first room before I freaked out and had to be escorted out an emergency exit. No refund. My dad vowed never to take me to another haunted house and has held true to his word ever since.
In fact, I didn’t go to another haunted house after that for five years, until I met my then boyfriend who has since become my husband. I thought surely I’d grown out of all that nonsense of being afraid….
HA! We made it through the whole thing all right…at top speed, with me crashing into the actors and knocking them out of the way. Wayne laughed (after he was done stoppeing to ask everyone I mowed over if they were okay and in some cases help them back up), but he also vowed never to do anything like that again with me.
Which he didn’t for almost 20 years. Then, hearing the hype of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and living only two hours from Orlando, we decided we just had to see it. We were both apprehensive about how I’d take it, but…it’s only an amusement park after all. One I’d been to countless times before. Surely I could handle that, right?
That was the site of my greatest haunted house meltdown ever. All I really remember is a completely exasperated Wayne hiding out with me in one of the restaurants while I cowered in terror from all the chainsaw wielding ghouls roaming the park and begging with a security lady to escort me off premises. (I’m sugar coating that. I was a blubbering mess.)
At one point he said, “What is wrong with you? You love horror movies. You should be in heaven right now.”
I shouted back, “I love watching horror movies! I never wanted to be in one!”
But I did come away realizing why I lose my mind: it has to do with the masks/costumes. I can’t get it through my mind real people are behind them. (Some people have the problem of not being able to suspend their disbelief when it comes to fiction. I have the exact opposite problem!)
So there’s my confession. I thought it was important to make so you’d know why, Haunt Jaunter that I may be, haunted houses won’t be among my adventure destinations this year.
Instead, I’ll make my Jaunts with the help of the Net. That way I still get to experience the fun of Halloween haunted houses…just via the safety of my own home.
However, if any of you dare to go with me and want to record the misadventure, I’ll go if you split the fame and fortune you make off it with me!