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With kids in my house there’s a pretty good chance that the television will be playing Nickelodeon, Disney, or Cartoon Network at some point in the day. Most of the time I’m able to tune it out like white noise, but on occasion, something will pull me from whatever I’m doing and I’ll get drawn into a show. But don’t judge, I can’t help it; my juvenile sense of humor is drawn to pratfalls and potty humor like the proverbial moth to a flame.

Recently I caught an episode of a Disney series called I’m in the Band. I’d never even heard of it before, but I found myself watching it. From what I could gather, a middle school boy becomes the lead guitarist for a struggling, has-been band. In this particular episode the band lands a role in a cheesy horror flick about mutant spiders, snakes and clowns. It ends up that each band member has a phobia centered on one of these creatures (include clowns in the creature category). During the music video, each band member tries to play on as they are covered in live spiders and snakes. Even my pubescent humor only found this mildly funny until the drummer looks down to find a clown gnawing on his arm. I cracked up!! I found it completely hilarious, both for the execution of the shot and because it instantly brought back a fantabulous memory from my college days. I’m going to share this memory now, as it will be at the expense of my former roommate/bff and not myself ( an example of true friendship).

My BFF from high school and college was also my roommate for several years. Amy and I were the queen of road trips and collected many miles and stories over the years. One of our traditions was to gather a group of friends and drive to Dallas to hit Six Flags during Fright Fest. It was always a blast. The weather was perfect and the park was brimming with costumed actors and…haunted houses!!!

This one particular year, the Boy Scouts were hosting a haunted house (think Eagle Scouts not Cub Scouts). The theme was CLOWNS. This was no big for me, but Amy was absolutely freaked out by clowns. They gave her the eeby-jeebies in a most serious way. Did this phobia make me take pause or offer her sympathetic understanding? Hell no!! It only ignited my pouring of undaunted peer pressure on my sweet little friend. I mean, if the theme had been cockroaches or scorpions, it would have been a different story, but it wasn’t, so HAHAHA!!

So we literally drag poor, pleading Amy into the house of grease paint horrors. We ignored her whimpering and even the fact that she is trying to chew through her own arm to get away, and pulled her through the maze. Aside from the occasional blur of white faces jumping out from corners, the walk-through was rather uneventful…until the end. We entered a room that had masses of silly-string-like tendrils hanging from the ceiling that you had to push through. They brushed over your skin, creating the strange feeling left behind after walking through a spider web.

While we were distracted by the glowing tentacles, Amy became separated from the group by only a few feet. One of the clown-clad Eagle Scouts noticed and took advantage. I turned to look for Amy just as the freakishly tall clown begins to lumber towards her like a zombie. She frantically begins to back away, but she doesn’t see the other clown waiting in the corner. She backs right into him. Just as she realizes what she’s bumped into, he slowly begins to draw his arms around her.

Her fight or flight senses take over, and let me tell you–fight won. She screams, draws up her foot and stomps down on his with everything her 105 pounds could muster, and then follows it up with the classic self-defense 101 combo with an elbow in the gut. The clown doubles over, Amy runs out screaming, and the other clown (remember they are teenage boys) does not go to help his friend, but instead, breaks into hysterical laughter. Both clowns are laying on the ground; one moaning and the other’s rainbow afro bouncing up and down from his laughter.

The rest of us take off after Amy, who has exited the structure, screaming hysterically. There is a massive line of people waiting to enter the haunted house and their expressions are priceless. Some are laughing but others are showing signs of serious contemplation, “Should I really go in there?” Amy collapses on the ground and so do the rest of us; Amy cursing us and us not hearing over our laughter. It was by far the best haunted house experience I’ve ever had and was also probably my last.

Now it’s that time of year again and both haunted houses and clowns are circling my thoughts. The clowns are just because of my short story POP. It is hilarious and I would love to post a couple of pages, but it has some really strong language and will be best left available for purchase by those who are not easily offended. My thoughts of haunted houses are a no-brainer (Halloween, duh). I’m tempted to go to one, but I have a confession to make…I’ve become a chicken in my old age. I startle very easily and am afraid that after having 3 children, my bladder won’t hold up and I’ll end up the laughing-stock among the ten-year-olds. But…BUT…I’m still thinking about it, and if the right person comes up with the right bribe, I may have to venture out to one and write about it from my hospital bed in the cardiac unit. If any of you want to take on the challenge of dragging me to a haunted house (and aid in Amy’s revenge) , bring it on (unless it has cockroaches and scorpions).

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