Last week my husband and son went to Little Caesars for a pizza and came back with coupons for Hallow Scream Forest. "I'm not going," I said.
"Come on," said my husband. "You've been wanting us to do more things as a family."
"This doesn't count," I said. I hate horror. I hate being afraid. There's enough to be afraid of in this world without paying for it, even if you have a coupon.
"Please, mom?" said my son who turns 11 later this month. How much longer will he want to do anything with me? By noon the next day I was 50% and that night when my son came home with all A's on his interim report card I said "OK, what the hell," and we drove 30 minutes off the main road past civilization, God and Ashland, my heart pounding as the sun began to set.
I imagined peeing on myself in terror as we parked the car in the nearly empty field. I imagined clawing my own eyes out as we bought our tickets, having a heart attack and actually dying as we waited behind the rope next to the bonfire and creepy shrill music at the edge of the forest.
"You can do this," said my husband. "I know you can. It's important to confront your fears. If you can do this, you can do anything." By the time the sadists at the gate finally let us begin our march to certain death, Henry was bouncing up and down in eager anticipation and I was so eager to get it over with I practically ran into the mouth of the forest.
The first ghouls to jump out at us, faces painted red with blood and gore, looked just like a few of my former students. "Oh hi," I said with real affection, not only to them but to every vampire, zombie, werewolf, witch, haunt, spirit, demon and dead redneck hillbilly cannibal that jumped across our path for the next 25 minutes. "How are you?" I even asked the dead witch holding a seance (she looked just like a former housemate!) though the bloodied guy with chainsaw did give me pause.
"Mom, you ruined it," Henry said at the end- but only for him. I made it quite wonderful for myself, greeting each terrible, frightening monster like an old and beloved friend.