This week’s Remember the Time Blog Hop theme is of course about Halloween, anything Halloween-related. If you have read any of my other stories then perhaps you have run across Playing Purse. (read me) No? OK, then perhaps you’ve read What’s That Smell? (read me) Still no? Well then certainly you’ve read one of these: Missing Tricycle Seats can cause Hernias, Right?, Burn ‘Em or Morning Breeze. Alright, well if the answer is still no then read this one – AD – After Dinosaurs, there were Jackalopes & Christmas Surprise. (read me) Go ahead, I’ll wait.
OK, you’re back. So you see, I like to laugh, joke, play pranks, be teased and to just have a great time. Most of us love to watch scary movies. Why is that? I’ll tell you why – because it’s fun to be scared when at your core you know that there’s really no danger. Pass the popcorn please. After the movie is over you get that huge feeling of relief that all is well in the world, no one really just got eaten by zombies or hacked up into little pieces by a chainsaw. And so I confess, just as I did not escape being frightened by my dad’s driving me out to the cemetery once to check in on a ghost rumor, (I have a very vague memory of this – I must have been very young), my kids did not escape my attempts to frighten the ‘bejesus’ out of them either. Whether it was sneaking up on them while wearing a Freddy Kruger glove or hiding in their closet and making those little weird alien sounds from the movie Signs (with Mel Gibson), everything was fair game where it came to trying to scare the crap out of the kids for a good laugh. Sometimes though scaring the crap out of your kids can go a little too far.
My favorite Halloween activity of all time occurred while we lived in Hamilton, Ohio and the surrounding area. Every year there was the most awesome haunted Halloween walk of all time located at Governor Bebb Preserve in nearby Okeana, Ohio right on the Indiana/Ohio border. I performed a 20 minute internet search to find out, (very sadly), that this is now defunct. My wife and I along with our kids must have attended this at least a dozen times and it got better and better every year. Extremely popular, we would try to be one of the first people at the park to buy our tickets. We’d make an evening out of it by driving into Brookville, Indiana to eat at the DQ or McDonalds or KFC and then head on over to Governor Bebb Preserve. Hundreds of other people would be there for the same exciting evening which was complete with an outdoor makeshift theater where some sort of 8 or 16MM film would be showing a movie appropriate for Halloween, such as Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, a hot cider and coffee stand and a giant fire ring where the masses would huddle around trying to stay warm until it was time for their group to be called into the woods. Typically the wait time would be a couple of hours, but the excitement and buildup of anticipation and the family comradery made the waiting time become all part of the fun.
The haunted walk was a guided tour through the woods. We would be taken into the woods on the guided pathway in groups of 20 by ghoulish volunteers who would lead us along. The trail would be filled with an unending gauntlet of ghosts and movie bad guys. By the time our group was called, we would all have frayed nerves and clenched teeth. In particular, my kids would be scared to death of what was about to transpire because I would spend the previous 2 hours adding to their nervousness by making up new tales and repeating some favorite dadness such as:
‘Oh kids, this is not looking good’ or nonchalantly speaking to my wife when I knew the kids were listening with things like:
‘Kim, did you hear about the little boy they found chopped up in these woods 2 weeks ago? They think that escaped convict from the prison is loose somewhere around here’
My personal favorite activity was to grab one of the kids as we were progressing, snatch him from his mother’s hands, (one of the rare times my boys wanted to hold hands), and forcefully thrust him towards one of the ghouls or Freddies and shout in a slow, maniacal voice, “TAKE THIS ONE”. (This makes me smile as I’m writing this – what fun!)
The ‘take this one’ was one of my boys’ favorites. As each boy got older they’d prod me to do the ‘take this one’ to the next youngest every year. (Whispering….Dad, do the take this one on Corey or Dad – do take this one to Timmy). They knew that just a short year ago, they had suffered the wrath of dad so it should be only fair that the next in line become traumatized as well.
On one certain occasion however…..the year must have been between 1998 to 2000 because our youngest boy I recall was perhaps between 4 and 6 years of age. Our youngest son Timmy was perhaps more frightened than the other boys were at the same age. Even today at the age of 19, I can hide somewhere in the house at bedtime and if he can’t locate me, he won’t go to bed until he knows of my whereabouts (I’m such a good dad). We were all walking within our group, the whole family as well as Kim’s sister and her family. There was no break in the trail – a new creature or ghoul would jump out at almost a constant pace for the entire length of the walk which lasted perhaps 10 minutes. The coup de grâce was a section midway into the trail at the darkest point. At a signaled moment, out would come someone dressed in full park ranger attire with a flashlight who would announce sad news to the group that they have lost electricity and have to cut the walk short because a known chainsaw killer was seen somewhere close by. As a special safety precaution they were closing down early tonight.
This was it! All those that have done this haunted walk before now knew what was about to occur. The ‘ranger’ would make perhaps one step forward in front of the group, yielding his flashlight when all of a sudden, out would spring one lone slasher who would start up his chainsaw. The strobe lights would all start up at this moment too. The chainsaw had the blade removed but you couldn’t tell this in the flashing strobe light. Very soon afterwards, out would jump another and another chainsaw-yielding Freddie, Michael or Jason, surrounding the group. Everyone’s screaming, the noise is deafening. And where am I? Right out in front with my youngest offered up as sacrifice – SPARE ME, TAKE THIS ONE!!! TAKE THIS ONE!
Meanwhile I’m cracking up, everyone’s pushing and shoving on each other in an attempt to get within the center of the group where safety would be offered. We’re all continuing to shuffle forward out of chainsaw-slasher-range. TAKE THIS ONE, TAKE THIS ONE….and I’m grabbing each child that I can offer up as a human sacrifice in order to save my own pathetic skin. And so it went every year while we lived in Ohio – what a great time!
Finally, our group made it to the end of the haunted trail and to the safe confines of the multitude of the other poor souls who had not yet attempted to make the trek themselves. Hey, what’s that smell?
Timmy – I had an accident Dad.
Me – peeking down into the back of Tim’s jeans, ooh, yuk!
Kim – ok, big shot – you take him into the bathroom now and clean him up!
And so it was. I took Tim into the port-o-Johnny and sure enough, he had soiled himself (note the blame shifting here). Kim gave me a supply of the quicker-picker-uppers wetted down and I proceeded to remove his underwear and clean up his buttocks. We, (I), literally had scared the crap out of our youngest son. TAKE THIS ONE had finally taken its toll.
The moral of this story? I’ve tried to instill a great sense of humor into my children because I believe we all waste far too much energy fighting and arguing. Let’s all just have a good laugh together.
I ask you – what is more fun that scaring the shit out of your kids?