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  • My young cousins and I were laughing and chasing each other around in the dark countryside during a family reunion weekend. My father stands at 6’3”, so you can imagine the dramatic effect produced when he jumped out from behind a tree with a loud, “BOO!” Kids ran screaming in all directions, except me. When my heart resumed beating, I angrily watched my father walk away chuckling.

    And, then, there was the night when my parents were getting ready for a Halloween party as my brothers and I watched television. During a commercial, I headed toward the hall to visit the bathroom. My second step into the dark hallway was met with a loud, deeply rich, “Boo-wah-ha-ha!” by a seemingly floating white face. After I screamed, my father laughed, again amused from scaring the crap out of one his children. Dressed as a vampire, he had held his black cape over his painted white face as he lay in wait for his offspring/victims.

    I share this with you to explain why Halloween haunted houses are not a good idea for me. I’m a little jumpy.

    The first time I visited a haunted house on Halloween I was with a group of high school classmates. I had no idea what to expect, other than old horror movie scenes shown on television. So, yeah, I was not happy when grotesque characters jumped out at me.

    I was talked into trying it again in my 20’s by so-called friends. Now, I’m okay with the scary décor. It’s when someone jumps at me, there’s a problem. Again, it was not a pleasant experience.

    In my mid-30’s, for the third (and final) time, I visited a haunted house on Halloween, after a convincing argument from my drinking buddies: “You’ll be buzzed. You won’t care.” It was abundantly clear to me as soon as we entered that the alcohol would let me down, so I planned a closed eye approach for the majority of the “tour.”

    At one point, the line suddenly stopped, so I cautiously opened my eyes. Up ahead, in a hall awash in flashing black lights, someone pointed out a woman who had to step aside and rest on a small bench. A whispered explanation traveled down the line - “she has a heart problem.”

    Then, all of the lights suddenly went out. The line stood motionless in the dark for about five minutes, then the lights just as suddenly turned back on. It didn’t take long for the blackout explanation to travel down the line. Apparently, a ghoulish character had jumped out at the poor woman on the bench, who was so spooked she peed her pants, inadvertently shorting the electrical wiring under the bench.

    Haunted houses during Halloween are filled with blood, gore, torture chambers, and evil spirits. But, the humiliation of short-circuiting an amusement house because you peed your pants?

    Now, that is frightening.
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