Thursday, October 10, 2013

For I Too, Am No Friend of the Haunted House

Day #10

I read several blogs. One of my favorites is Melanie Shankle's blog, Big Mama.

Melanie wrote a hilarious book, "Sparkly Green Earrings".

If you haven't read it. Go get it.


Barnes & Noble and Lifeway carry it.
So does Amazon.

I mean it.


I'll wait.

I gave a copy to my friend last week and she texted me last night that she was on the treadmill at the gym reading it and laughing out loud.

So there you have it.

It is laugh out loud funny.

This is actually leading to a point, I promise.

A post on the Big Mama blog recently spoke about haunted houses and her deep hatred of them.

I may or may not have "Amen(ed)" her out loud as I read it.

For I too, am no friend of the haunted house.

But it was Melanie's mention of a school carnival haunted house in the music room of her elementary school that got my jog down memory lane…well, jogging.

My elementary school did a fall carnival every year and our haunted house was in the music room too!

Was this somehow mandated in the 70s?

Our music room was just the back portion of the stage that could be opened up for performances.

I guess it was chosen because it was windowless and already had all the right electronics (stereo for spooky music and lights for creepy atmosphere).

I truly did despise this haunted house.

But there was a brown paper lunch sack filled with trinkets and candy waiting as a reward for those who bravely went through it.

I guess I was a sucker for those plastic hands 
that loudly clacked together and paraffin wax lips.

The haunted house usually involved some sort of operating table scene

and a chance to stick your hand in something gooey that was supposed to be 

or something intestinal.

I don't recall ever sticking my hand into the gooey mess.

So I may have received my lunch sack trinkets under false pretenses.
Or I have just blocked out those goo-filled memories.

A girl in my class always hosted a group of us to her house for a Halloween/slumber party.

Every year they set up a pretty elaborate 
haunted house in their basement.

Her dad and much older brother really got into scaring the Dorothy Hamil and/or Tennille (from Captain & Tennille) haircuts right off our heads.

I really dreaded that portion of the evening

with all the strobes lights 

and the door of the deep freezer propped open to 
reveal a mangled mannequin stuffed inside 

and her brother popping out at us wearing either a werewolf or a gorilla mask.

I couldn't really tell since my eyes were shut so tight.

My town threw a lot of energy into putting on a haunted house every year in changing locations.

One year when I was in middle school or early high school, it was in an old empty house

(seriously, isn't this like the beginning of EVERY horror movie?) 

that sat on top of a hill.

I know. 

Does anyone else hear that creepy music 
and loud footsteps upstairs?!

My friends begged me to go.

I honestly do not remember why I even went.

Peer pressure, maybe.

Or the ERRANT hope for a brown paper lunch sack 
filled with trinkets and candy waiting as a reward for 
those who bravely went through it.

I do remember being somewhat taken aback

that haunted houses actually CHARGE YOU MONEY.

Yes, they were asking ME to pay THEM to allow a group of people in my town's Jaycees, 

to scare the ever-loving Aquanet right out of my 1980s big hair.

If you grew up in the 80s you know what a fright that would require.

There was a long line the night we went and I tried to bail out many times.

Especially when we were close enough to hear 
the screaming and carrying-ons from the house.

When we finally got to the entrance,

 we INSISTED that we be allowed to ALL go in together.

There is protection in numbers.
Or so we thought.

I just held on to my friends, hunkered down and closed my eyes, shuffling along as I listened to



and moans.

This method was working great until we heard the chainsaw.

The group dispersed.


It was every man for himself looking for a way out of the dark room where the seemingly only exit was filled with a

mask-wearing-chainsaw-carrying crazy person.

As we all scrambled to look for an escape, another crazy person popped out of somewhere and

after I stopped screaming,

I realized it was my neighbor.

The one with the two adorable kids that I babysat for all the time.

I called his name to be sure.

He got out of character to answer back that it was indeed him

JUST as one of my girlfriends managed to bust 
through a door that had been semi-blocked off.

It is amazing the strength adrenaline
can give a 14-year-old girl.

This door led outside but there were no longer steps on the outside of the door.

Did I mention the house sat up on a hill?

It was a bit of distance from the doorway to the ground.

My neighbor

and many other deranged surgeons 

and electric chair technicians--

including that chain saw carrier, 

rushed to her aid.

I remember looking down on my friend lying on the ground, thinking,

"Lucky! She is out of this horrible place."

If I wasn't so afraid of heights, 
I would've jumped and joined her.

She was fine, by the way,

but caused the haunted house to shut down for a brief 
period of time so the door could be better barricaded 

and the "cast" could regroup a bit.

I truly don't "get" the thrill of being scared.

I mean, this scares me:

There is something about the arm being propped
up on the couch, combined with the dead legs, combined
with the really far apart eyes that says to me:  "I broke into
your house while you were gone. And now I'm going to
very calmly eat you."

I'd rather go to a laughing house.


How fun would that be?

We'd walk in and there would be lots of light and all kinds of funny situations

and people showing up 
(in a non-threatening way) 

with goofy jokes and a little stand-up.
Perhaps even some slapstick and a pie in the face.
Who knows? It is a laughing house--
all kinds of good-natured tomfoolery could happen.


  1. I am with you all the way - a laughing house for sure. ALthought with that much laughing I might wet my pants just a little...

  2. Mindy--

    Good point! I will have to incorporate that to the Laughing House--potty breaks! :)


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