Spooky times just around the corner

Published 12:11 pm Thursday, September 24, 2009

“Regina, go lock the front door—it’s getting dark outside.”

Oh, no. Not that. Anything but that.

Back in the 70s, we actually started locking our front doors at night. After all, times were getting rough. You couldn’t trust folks like you used to, so we had to start locking our doors once the street lights came on, even though we still slept with the windows wide open.

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But as a kid, making that trek down our long, dark hallway to the front door by oneself was enough to bring on a case of the jitters. You see, as you walk into my parents’ home and come down the hallway, you come to four separate rooms—two on each side. We had those doors that slide into the walls, so the doorways were almost always open—and pitch black at night. And my wild imagination always managed to conjure up some demon’s claws reaching out to snatch at my arms or some glowing red eyes that would appear in the dark as I made my way down the hall.

By the time I made it to the front door, slammed it shut and locked it, I would be hightailing it back through the kitchen and to the den where my mom was. Whew! That was close…

I now have a confession to make. While growing up, I was terrified of the dark. After all, you couldn’t see what was in the dark, and there was no telling what was there, and for some reason, my imagination ran wild with all kinds of scary things in the dark. Which is why we shouldn’t make fun of people who are scared of the dark—I don’t care how young, or old, you are.

Somehow or another, my classmate Apryl Herring, talked me into going to the Ritz Theatre in Greenville and seeing “It’s Alive.” Surely you remember the commercial for that horror flick, the one with the monster’s claw hanging out of the baby crib? I spent about three-fourths of the movie with my jacket pulled up in front of my eyes and my feet up in my seat. Therefore, I missed most of it, even though I still remember when the monster-baby killed the milk man, and the white milk pouring out of his truck soon turned into strawberry milk. You gotta love those special effects of the 70s.

Or “Jaws.” Now “Jaws” was not necessarily a horror flick—I guess it was though since it has become such a cult classic, one that made going to the beach or swimming in a pool, or taking a bath, or-dare I say, even sitting on the toilet—a whole new experience because of all the fears surrounding water.

I’m not big on “blood and guts” movies—give me “The Sound of Music” any day over “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” However, the older I’ve gotten, scary movies don’t bother me like they used to. Maybe it’s because I rationalize and intellectualize them to death so I won’t be scared.

“I know very well that that is just an actor with a chainsaw and fake blood, and he didn’t really just cut off that person’s head—it was just a prop—and those are really two little red light bulbs, not some demon’s eyes glowing in the window….”

You get the picture.

As a kid, Greenville had a haunted house on Commerce Street very close to the courthouse. That house has been torn down for about 30 years now; my friends kept trying to get me to go through it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. When I was about 13, I let my friends talk me into going through another haunted house—we didn’t make it through the whole thing—our scaredy cat selves had to be escorted out. When I was in my 20s, I went through another one, and actually stopped in the middle of it to tie my shoe. I even asked the guy with the ax to “hold on just one second, please.”

Now I find myself on the other side of the fence—in other words, as being the one who does the scaring. Come to Miller’s House of Horrors at the old Dozier schoolhouse and pay me a visit.

By the way, Samson, my 16-pound tomcat, is on the mend and sends out his many thanks for all the emails and thoughts of concern during his illness.

He did, however, take offense to the phrase “scaredy cat.”

It is so hard to be politically correct these days.