The Kitchen Sink: Scary Things

“Halloween is Coming”

Spooks, screams, ghosts, howls, shadows, squeaks, ghouls, groans, and monsters. Fright night. Everyone likes scary, right?

In my youth (many long years ago), I loved Halloween. I loved it because I got to go to a few neighbors’ doors after dark. I loved it because I got to dress up in a costume of my mother’s making. (Which in Minnesota meant that no one saw my costume, because I was wearing sweaters and a parka on top of my costume. And a scarf wrapped around my neck and over my face.) And I loved Halloween because most importantly I came home with a bag full of candy and peanuts. Yes, peanuts, unshelled peanuts.

To this day I don’t like peanuts.

You see, one year I shucked and ate ALL of the peanuts I’d hauled in. That same evening! And then proceeded to come down with stomach flu. A memorable Halloween. It was a different kind of scary.

Ellen DeGeneres loves to scare her guests on her show. She distracts them with conversation while someone dressed as a huge bunny, or wolf, or even a male dancer jumps out at them. Ellen and her audience delight at the reactions displayed by the guest who usually lurches out of the seat, screams and then gathers wits. The humiliated scaree charges after the scarer. Good for a few laughs…I guess.

My husband is like Ellen. He delights in scaring people. Our children and I have been the benefactors of many of his pranks. He can’t control his laughter as he retells the stories of sneaking outside after dark and slowly scratching his nails on our daughter’s bedroom window when a girlfriend was staying over. Their screams delighted him. He also tells the great stories of how he would hide in a dark room and jump out at the kids and their friends as they unsuspectingly walked out of a bathroom. Their screams and immediate crumple to the floor were his best entertainment. He loved it.

Surprisingly, they loved it, too. He is a great prankster.

One of his favorite stories was about the time when he came home at lunch time to find our daughter and her friend Jill sunbathing out back. Our golden retriever Tigger had met him at the door. For Some reason, maybe the noon time heat, the girls had decided to move their lounge chairs under the deck for a little shade. My husband quietly filled a bowl with water, tip toed out onto the deck splashing the water through the deck floor onto the girls while shouting, “Tigger! Don’t pee on the deck.” Picture screaming girls, husband doubled over with guffaws.

To this day, my husband continues his scare tactics. He will sneak up on me when I’m standing in the walk-in closet deep in thought about what I should wear for the day. The sudden claw on my shoulder sets my heart racing. Not in a good way. I swear he is trying to cause my heart attack!

I’ve never gotten a kick out of being scared. Being scared scares me! Being scared sets my heart racing. My skin tightens and grows clammy cold. My stomach clenches. My muscles tighten into a cramp. I have no doubt that my eyes dilate, several strands of hair release from my scalp, and at least two new wrinkles appear somewhere on my body each time I feel fear. Things that go bump in the night scare me. Roller coasters scare me. Haunted houses with monsters jumping out of the dark scare me. And yes, sometimes my husband scares me. And he laughs.

There are so many other things that scare me, too. Let me name a few:
The Right wing, the Left wing, the Reds, the Blues, the NRA, the terrorists, Fox News, MSNBC, and most news organizations, the PLO, ISIL or ISIS, Ebola, germ warfare, war in general, OPEC, NAACP, NCLU, PACS, conservatives, liberals, human trafficking, racism, all the fanatics…

Is that enough? Have I lost my sense of humor? Like eating too many shelled peanuts, we can ruin a good thing if we can’t step back for perspective.

I remain hopeful. After all, we aren’t the only generation to have experienced the divides, wars, and evils like we are facing today. And here we are still here pushing forward. We are all still trying to make the world right.

And I think we need more laughter. Even laughter at our fears. The ability to laugh also gives us hope. Because then we can see the brighter side.

Halloween is coming. My husband is ready. And so am I.

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