Monday, October 31, 2011
They make me feel anxious and sad.
Part of it is obvious. There are real live people jumping out and scaring you. And, while I'm not afraid they'll do me bodily harm, I'm afraid I'll hurt myself by spazzing out and tripping over an extension cord or running into a janky set piece and sending it tumbling down on my head. Also, I'm afraid I'll look stupid because, you know, I'm probably gonna look stupid at several points during the excursion. It would be really hard to appear cool with gory shit popping out in your face. So, there's that aspect of it.
The other reason I think I hate haunted houses is that I worked in them a lot back in the day. I'm a theater kid. I did them growing up and again in college for theater fundraisers. There's something about sitting quietly for hours with sticky fake blood running down your back waiting to startle little girls in princess costumes or sorority girls dressed as slutty witches that makes you not want to go to a haunted house ever again. Once you've been a dead body on the floor (that moves! oooh!) or a zombie hostess or a creepy ghost mom holding a baby doll whose head turns around, you're kind-of over it. The thrill is gone, baby.
Okay, everything above is true. It is. But, I haven't been completely honest either.
The real reason I hate haunted houses is because of that one day. I was a Senior in high school and our troupe was doing a very scary little haunted house. In the mall. My dad was the adult point man on the project so I was perhaps even more involved with this fundraiser than others. It felt like I was there every day. I was busy with school and plays and my boyfriend. I was stressed. The guy I was seeing was one of those guys that everyone had a crush on. It's a pain in the ass to date a dude like that. But, I was a goner for him in the way that only a seventeen year old drama queen full of hormones and angst can be a goner for someone. I was so wrecked over him that it had gone beyond awesome and entered into painful.
This particular day I'd been there for hours. I was in the first room of the haunted house, held up by a contraption around my ribs and waist that made it look like I was hanging from the noose tied loosely around my neck. When customers would enter, I would come alive and give them a spooky schpeel about how freaking scared they were going to be in our awesome mall haunted house that was "Soooo Haunted!" even though it used to be The Limited. Anyway, I got the contraption too tight and passed out in the harness. I was replaced and sent home. I was tired, my ribs were sore and I was delighted to get out of there and see daylight. I went to the back to change out of my creepy white lace dress and into my jeans and t-shirt.
The dressing rooms were still standing in this old store. As I was peeling off my hideous costume and using baby wipes to get the makeup off my face, I heard two voices coming from the stall next to me.
"I don't understand what he sees in her. She's an ugly bitch."
"I know. It's so weird. You're so much prettier."
"Right? She has that big curly hair and that pointy nose! She's like a witch! Why would he want to date a witch when he could have me?!"
I was the President of my performance troupe. A terrible stupid title that basically meant I had way too much power for a surly teenage girl. I knew every kid in the group. So, I knew who was talking, of course. And I knew they were talking about me.
I thought I could grab my stuff and get out of there before they discovered I'd overheard them. I was close to tears and really pissed off. I quietly stepped outside just as the two girls did. They looked at me, I looked at them. I probably still could've played it off. But, then then the girl said this:
"I'm sure you heard that. I'm sorry, but it's true. He should be dating me. You're not very cute."
I was, perhaps, not the nicest teenage girl in the history of the world. I probably deserved cruel words like this from some people. But, not from this chick I hardly knew and had gone out of my way to be nice to. As President, I'd even lobbied for her to be let in the acting troupe. So, when she insulted me to my clearly ugly face, it made me see red.
I looked the girl up and down. She was really really pretty. One of those blond-haired blue-eyed cheerleader types the rest of us West Texas gals hated. There was only one thing I could insult on her, so I did. And I've felt bad about it ever since.
"I doubt he'll ever date you because you're mean and your thighs are gigantic. Don't ever even look at me again or I'll make your life hell," I eloquently said to her, stomping off in my combat boots like I was G.I. Jane.
Not my proudest moment. I think about it sometimes. How I should've just walked off without the stupid words. I also wonder what it was about me that made her hate me so much. Was it just because of who I was dating? And why did I care?
I know it's not much. I mean, big deal, someone said something mean to me. And, I'm over it, in that I don't blame that sixteen-year-old blond chick for what she said or seventeen-year-old me for how I responded. We were kids. I've let it go.
But, something about haunted houses make me feel sad and icky to this day, like they're haunted by a version of me whom I hate. Which is way scarier than ghosts or Michael Myers or babies with spinning heads.
Have a Happy, Safe and Polite Halloween, Everyone!
*photo by ItsPaulKelly.