“From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord, deliver us!”

I’m not real good with the scary stuff. 


You’ll never find bloody skeletons or the like gracing the front of my house in late October.  I never really liked telling ghost stories around campfires.  To this day, I’ve never watched a horror movie.


My son couldn’t be any more similar, temperament and personality wise, if he’d been cloned from me.  We’re both bookish, sarcastic, rather prickly.  Turns out, though, we’re not a 100% match.  Because he likes his gore.


We went to a Halloween superstore this weekend, to find costumes.  And greeting us at the front door was a massive display of  decorations, both static and moving.  And the boy, who I thought was just like me, the boy who jumps at any unexpected sound, the boy who I thought was scared of everything, could have spent all damn day, pushing buttons that made displays like this:


 pop up and scream.  He was delighted.  Enthralled, really.  He bounced from section to section, holding up severed limbs, laughing at serial killer clown masks. “Mom!  You have GOT to come see this!  The zombie’s head does a 360, then he PUKES at you!  Can we get it?”


And as I was trying to process exactly who in the hell my son had suddenly become, I noticed people giggling at me.  More specifically, at my leg.


Where my little girl, who is normally without fear, was clinging, covering her own eyes, too terrified to even tell me she was scared.


Would this shape her, make her into “me” as she got older?  What was it that scared me so badly, that I could never enjoy Halloween, and all things creepy, the way my son seems to?


If I had to blame something, I’d blame it on the potluck.


The annual Halloween potluck.  I grew up in an area so sparsely populated that the nearest “neighbor” was over 2 miles away.  So to hit even 4 or 5 houses would have taken an hour, at least.  The community, instead, threw a Halloween Party in the community hall.  We’d dress up, have a potluck supper, then at the end, we’d line up, and the adults would  come to us to give out candy, instead of the other way around.  (Although we’d always be secretly jealous of the “town kids” who got way more candy, we tried to act like our system made us superior.  They never bought it, though.)


I couldn’t tell you what I dressed up as the year I was 5.  I couldn’t tell you anything about the games we played, or the candy I got, or who the hell handed out sunflower seeds (which are a COMPLETE cop-out, by the way).  But what I can tell you is what happened at the end of the party.


The crowd starts to part, people move to the sides of the hall, and in walk two men.  One of them is there merely as a guide, making sure his friend doesn’t bump into anyone.  The friend he’s guiding – is decapitated.  Huge black boots on his feet, big, swirling black cape, and blood, all over the hole where his head should be.


I ran.  Maybe I screamed.  I don’t know.  But I remember willing my suddenly jellied-legs to get the flying fuck out of there.  The sides of the hall were lined with built-in benches, and I remember jumping up on to one, but then wanting to scramble right up the wall, as if it were possible or would help.  And right beside me was my friend Anita.


The thing was, we both knew that the headless  guy was Anita’s dad.  We knew those boots.  And it was what the adults who were trying to peel us off the walls were telling us.  But I really didn’t give a tiny rat’s ass, right then, and was trying to claw my way up a wall, thanks very much.  Just when we thought it was safe to maybe come down, they did another  pass through the hall, since their “act” had obviously been so riotously popular.  I lost it.  The only thing I remember after that was being forcibly carried out to the car, covering my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see “it” again.


It didn’t matter how logical I was, even as a 5 year old.  Didn’t matter that the blood was so obviously fake, and that everyone else around me (except Anita) seemed to get the joke.  I was full of panic, and I always would be at anything remotely macabre.


 So, baby girl, I really, really hope our visit to the store isn’t the thing that wrecks Halloween for you.  Because the kids who like it, seem to really like it a lot.  But if it is wrecked for you?  You’ll always have me for company.








(Image from here.)


18 responses to ““From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord, deliver us!”

  1. At 5 years old someone took me to a haunted house at Halloween and I too have been a freaked out little scaredy cat since! I hope your daughter isn’t wrecked! I know I was the only one in my family that way!!!

  2. Oh! So sweet! I hate scary too – I hope she’s not going to be scared, though. Fearless girls have more fun.

  3. I just want to know if your actual thoughts as a five year old were to, “…fly the f*ck out of there.” Hilarious.

    • Well, here’s the thing: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t think in swear words. And I made it all the way to 12 before I started letting them fly. So, there’s a distinct possibility I did.

  4. could it be a touch of testosterone? took a few years before my daughter warmed up to ‘suspense’ flicks… and years later, she made me watch “28 Days Later” (she was in high school) and was patient while i hid under blankets and peeked out periodically…

    my son? was decapitating GI Joe dolls from the time he was about 7… when we came inside from working in the yard one day to find one of them hanging by a shoelace from the bannister, and the 9 year old boy said “war criminal”… we probably should have been more worried…

    she’ll be ok… at least it’s not an irrational fear of spiders…

  5. I’ve got a daughter who is JUST like me. Seems to love all things spooky and scary and gory (or at least what I let her see so far).

    I thought it would be fun to make, er let, the kids watch the movie The Birds last weekend, thinking it would be fun to get in the Halloween spirit, and it’s SUCH an old movie, it can’t possibly be scary, right? My son hid his face under a blanket for half the movie! Poor thing. Of course, the girl thought it was lame.

    It seems they both enjoy the Halloween store, though.

  6. My child could not be more different. She loves to watch the scary stuff w/ her cousins (I won’t allow it in the house) and she will ride any roller coaster you can find. I have no idea where she gets it from.

    I can’t stand gory or scary either and I’ve really never been into Halloween at all. For christ’s sake I just spent $40 on a cheap piece of fabric so my daughter could dress up as a Leprachaun. $40 hmph. Then I walk around in the cold so she can get candy that is STILL not gone from last Halloween. I hide as much as I can get away with. I know people absolutely LOVE this Holiday but I just have never been able to get into it.

  7. I know, I walk past the houses with elaborate graveyard displays, and I feel kind of left out.

  8. I live for Halloween!! And oddly enough, the state fair. My hubby and I even got married on Halloween! We are going on year 3 this Saturday!

    My parents used to dress up and decorate the house just to scare children! We had to move across town to get some trick or treaters to come by the next year. But it was so worth it!

  9. Both my children were delighted by the Halloween store and all the animated gore and moaning things, but me- I was using my husband as a shield because even though I’m a grown ass woman some of that stuff still freaks me out. The few times my husband has convinced me to watch a horror movie I spend the entire time hiding behind him on the couch, with my fingers in my ears, asking what’s going on. He always tells me “Just watch!” and I yell back “I can’t you douchecanoe! Just tell me!”

    You are soooo not alone.

  10. I think we may be soul sisters. I too am so frightened of everything ghoulish and bloody. My children are also the same way except it was my girl who ended up liking the gore and my boy who will run out of the room if he even hears a bar of scary music.

    Love it.

  11. Once we lived in a spooky old house on the side of a dark hill, accessible only by a dark and winding driveway lined with dense bushes. The house was perfectly visible from the road so, on Halloween, we dimmed the lights to a glow and placed ghoulish pumpkins at the top of the long flight of stairs that led to the front door. Then we played Bach and — piece de resistance — a hound from hell tape that motivated our standard poodle (who actually loved everybody) to sit in the doorway howling like nothing on this earth. It was delicious.

    All evening we sat in the gloom eating candy and watching the kids as they passed by on the street below. They stopped, they looked, they conferred, but none of them even started to climb that hill. The evening grew late and we began to think about turning on the lights and getting back to normal.

    Just then there was a timid knock and a tiny voice quavered, “Trick or treat!” The visitor was a tiny girl (no more than three years old) standing alone at the door. Someone was waiting for her on the road far below. She had climbed the hill, up that long and lonely driveway, past the dark bushes, past the leering pumpkins, up to the house with the the organ music pounding and the hounds from hell. She stood bravely, her little bag held out for the treats, thanked us politely and went back down the hill.

    If I had a 10 % of that kid’s courage, I’d be somebody else, living a life quite different from my own.

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