Happy All Hallow’s Eve, y’all! Today is Halloween and, wee bitty becostumed bairns will be taking to the streets going from house to house like mendicant friars, but these false faced ghouls, ghosts, and goblins are not begging alms; they seek CANDY! Enough raw sugar to make a blue whale need a tanker truck of Adderall just to swim straight.
I enjoy Halloween, but one October tradition I never embrace is the group trip to somewhere “haunted.” I’m not talking about Crybaby Bridge or Ghost Creek Road where SOMETHING paranormal and otherworldly often happens. I’m referring to corn mazes, haunted woods trails, and other variations of the haunted house.
I’ve mentioned before I have a low tolerance for fear and even less tolerance for crowds, both of which are in abundance at neighborhood spookfests. More than either, however, I detest the idea of masked people jumping and grabbing at me from every niche in the wall. Of course, everyone who knows me knows I hate this so theythink great fun to drag me to any local “haunted” attraction.
Most of them only do it once though and the annual trip through Clemson University’s Y-Theater will show you why.
Every year, some group or other puts on a spook house in the Y-Theater. Since these are college students, several of whom are majoring in design, engineering, or construction science, with vivid imaginations and a pretty hefty budget, these horror galas are intense and well done — if you like that sort of thing. This year the theme was “Silence of the Tigers” in homage to the recent Silence of the Lambs complete with faux flayed cadavers on operating tables and other palpitation inducing tableaux. Groups of fifteen followed a “guide” and, like any good haunted house, denizens would jump out at us on cue.
One reason I hated haunted houses then is different from now. Then I was vastly more buff up than now. I was about 250 lbs and 5’10”, but the distribution was different then. I had a waist and more resembled a V shape than a cylinder. Because of my size and gallantry, girls always push me to the front then cling to me. This was the ONLY time girls clung to me, and it figures I was too occupied to notice the cutie bloodying my forearm with her manicured nails or her equally attractive friend climbing on my back during the “jumpy parts.”
Instead, I was concentrating on “walking point” through the labyrinth. The tour lasted forty-five minutes, which seems like a long time; I had jumped and startled and put up a brave front but my nerves were shot with all the grabbing and darkness and smoke. Finally, we got to the long corridor to the exit. I was sweating and so ready for the fall air to cool me off. So everything went straight to Hell in a handbag.
Close to the exit, the ladies felt my presence in the vanguard wasn’t needed so I ended up at the back of the line. That move proved to be painful for someone. What happened next seemed to take the cliched hours of time standing still but was a few seconds. Our group got to the door and it wouldn’t open. Just one girl turned to tell us this new development, the lights in this windowless room went out. I heard a sound and as I turned to face it, STROBE LIGHTS came on and girls started screaming.
Nothing on this planet sounds like a Stihl chainsaw revving to cutting speed. Nothing on this planet LOOKS like said machine in the hands of a large man in a glowing “blood” streaked white rubber mask. This bastard love child of Micheal Meyers and Leatherface walked towards us through the strobes waving and revving the saw, and things got real. I realize today, the “chainless” chainsaw is old hat, but in 1991 the chainsaw sound cut every mooring line holding my nerves to reality. Those two little walnut sized glands atop my kidneys dumped three liters of adrenaline and ye olde fight-or-flight reaction kicked in.
I WILL fight if need be and back then, “need be” was more common, but hot-tempered and willing to scrap as I was, I wasn’t going to be the idiot bringing bare fists to a chainsaw fight. I turned towards the door and in a voice later favorably compared with James Earl Jones on steroids bellowed, “Girls, MOVE” and started running.
Newton’s Second Law of Motion says Force = Mass X Acceleration. I mentioned my mass earlier. Usain Bolt with nitrous would not have touched me over the fifty feet down the corridor. One girl later said she heard a sonic boom. Actually though, she heard my left foot contact the door, which exploding outward. I took off at about the ten foot mark and Bruce Lee would have envied the only flying side-kick I have ever done outside of a Mortal Kombat video game.
Now, why was I banned? Turns out the door was neither locked nor stuck but held shut by three average sized frat boys braced against it. One guy was using his shoulder and the other two had arms locked leaning against the door with all their weight. I hit the door at almost the exact point where “shoulder boy” braced. He ended up in the ER with a separated shoulder and a concussion from the back of his head hitting the sidewalk. Another one had a broken wrist and the last one dislocated his elbow.
And THAT, fellow feetsters, was the last time those girls asked me to a haunted house AND the last time I toured the Y-theater. The three frat boys haven’t forgiven me, but I don’t lose sleep over those things.
Love y’all and brush your teeth after all the candy then get those feet clean!