“During the day, I don’t believe in ghosts. At night, I’m a little more open-minded.” – Unknown
With Hallowe’en just around the corner, I couldn’t help but notice that this celebration appears to have progressed from being a fun-filled day for children to a full-fledged business opportunity. It seems that instilling fear (along with the promise of candy) is a great way to make a profit. In fact, news reports say that only Christmas outsells Hallowe’en!
Just stroll the aisles of any big-box store at this time of the year and that claim is easy to believe. I was in Home Depot just a few days ago where an entire section of Hallowe’en home and lawn décor greeted me as I entered the store. Some of the items were cute and friendly- looking, but most were quite terrifying in appearance and a few emitted sounds that should come with a warning, especially if one has a heart condition.
Call me old-fashioned (Did I just really admit to that?), a chicken or a party pooper, but I just don’t get it! And it’s not just Hallowe’en, what is it with this fascination for horror shows, zombies and things that go bump in the night?
Are there not enough scary incidents in real life or on the news to satisfy our need for fright? And, I don’t know about the rest of you, but my imagination is active and fertile enough to keep me awake at night. I certainly don’t need to watch The Walking Dead to add fuel to a fire which burns quite brightly on its own, thank-you.
Maybe it’s an age thing (I am starting to sound old!), but I do have to admit that when I was younger I did get a thrill from late-night ghost stories told around a campfire. I even watched the occasional horror movie, but these seem mild compared to today’s graphic slasher films. (Okay, The Shining starring Jack Nicholson was pretty scary, but I didn’t see half of it because I had my face covered with a pillow.) But what turned me completely away from this genre was one particular book.
My husband was away at a convention one week-end late in the fall, so on that Friday night it was just me, an empty house and a copy of William Blatty’s The Exorcist. I had heard great things about this book, so I was eager to read it. Within a few pages I was hooked, within a few more pages I was terrified, but I couldn’t put the book down. As I delved deeper and deeper into the story, my anxiety grew greater and greater. By the time I finished the book at three in the morning, I was too petrified to even consider going to bed. (As Shakespeare’s Hamlet mused: “For in that sleep…what dreams may come.”) So I stayed up waiting for the safety of daylight.
For the rest of the week-end I kept myself busy during the day, but once darkness arrived my fears returned and once again sleep was out of the question. Every creak or strange, unexplained noise had me convinced that some demon had taken up residence in my attic. After several restless nights, exhaustion took over and I finally succumbed to sleep, but since then I have vowed to stay away from TV shows, movies and books whose main purpose is to scare people silly.
That is why I know very little about zombies, ghouls or any other creatures from the netherworld – and I prefer to keep it that way!
So while many of you will be stalking the night on Hallowe’en in your scary costumes, I will be home handing out treats to sweet little children dressed as princesses and action heroes. After that I will find a good comedy to watch on TV while enjoying some leftover candy.
Happy Hallowe’en everyone!
“Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world.” – William Shakespeare