I’ve never understood why people would pay cold hard cash to have fear instilled within them. Of all the emotions I wish to experience during any given day — happiness, joy, humility — fear is certainly not on that list. While I desire to seek all those emotions without fee, the idea of paying to experience something that’s not even on that list boggles my mind. I think that’s why this time of year leaves me hoodwinked.
I don’t understand why someone would pay to see “Halloween” at the Searcy Cinema. Not only are you dropping your semester’s book fees on a ticket and then next semester’s fee on refreshments, but the cinema itself is already scary enough. The movie only makes the situation worse.
It always feels like I’m looked down upon, too, when I tell my friends that I’m not interested in attending a haunted house. Why would I drop my very, very limited cash assets on the risk that I’ll urinate myself at the sight of an unexpected goblin, humiliating myself for the rest of forever and eternity? I’m already getting emails about applying for spring graduation; I’m paying way too much for that, and it’s scary enough.
While I know fear is an emotion experienced within each person, I guess I’ve never thought about where my heightened fear of all things spooky stemmed from. I have my normal fears: parking garages, large crowds and leaving my comfort zone. (I also have an irrational fear that I, as my own resident assistant, will catch and fine myself for lighting a candle in my own dorm room.) Normal fears? I’ve got ‘em. Fears of the spooky? Tenfold.
When I was in elementary school, I was friends — maybe, now that I’m thinking about it, by force — with a girl who we will call Bailey. Bailey was several inches shorter than I, and she had naturally curly hair, which on any given day added to her mystique. Bailey had round-framed glasses that sat slightly askew on her young nose. She was an enigma, to be sure. And I think she might have been the catalyst for my fear of spookiness.
Our elementary playground sat sandwiched between the elementary classrooms and the old auditorium. It wasn’t called the old auditorium because there was a newer auditorium. The metal, beige-colored structure was original to the school’s campus. The metal was rusty in spots, and the facade looked like it was permanently frowning. It was the old auditorium because it was simply that — old.
The east side of the perimeter fence encompassing the playground butted up to the old auditorium, and the closest playground equipment to it was a massive wooden structure. It had levels, stairs, huge platforms and sat high enough off the ground that small students — like elementary Kaleb, his friends and Bailey — could crawl underneath.
Around Halloween during second grade, Bailey began to construct an elaborate scheme, which must have started my fear of spookiness. Months after her plans had been foiled, I would learn that Bailey, before school or recess started, would sneak onto the playground, crawl under the wooden structure where we hung out during recess and use rocks to carve names into the wood. So, when she started telling stories at recess about the janitor who kidnapped and murdered second graders in the old auditorium — students who he’d indicate via wood carvings in the wooden playground structure — we were terrified.
She told of his late-night snatches and how he’d use the big box fan in the band room to slice off the students’ fingers. She pointed to the rust spots as blood splatters. We were terrified.
Now that I’m writing all of this down, I’m convinced that my fear of spookiness came from Bailey, and I’m also convinced that someone should find her contact information to check in and see how she’s doing. Those aren’t normal thoughts for second graders, are they?
So, please know this Spooky Season that my desire to spend my money elsewhere isn’t because I’m fiscally conservative; it’s because I’m perpetually terrified.