Our family likes to scare each other. We hide and then jump out suddenly, hoping to startle someone for our own amusement. It has led to falling down, some tears, lots of laughs, and possibly a mild coronary or two. The Manatee, at age 2, is now also trying to scare us. She’s sort of terrible at it right now, but it’s pretty adorable.
Maggie is the interesting one, though, and the topic of this post. She scares very easily, is aware of that fact, and yet continually puts herself in situations that she knows full well will scare her. We watch scary movies all the time – or should I say, I watch scary movies as she sits beside me and makes me narrate the movie for her covered-eye self. She’s a huge fan of the Final Destination series; she’s “seen” all of them (even the ridiculous NASCAR one), some of them several times, but has yet to watch a single death scene. And those movies are 85% death scenes. Halloween is her favorite holiday, and yet she refuses to go into Halloween stores unless Chloe or I lead the way around every corner, just in case there’s anything scary. But she’ll still be there with us – because even though she’s scared, she refuses to let it keep her from hanging out with her family.
This need to spend time with us, combined with her inability to avoid getting into situations where she will be terrified, led to The Incident. Maggie and her sister, Anna, joined me and Chloe on a trip through the “Tombstone Town Haunted Hotel and Mirror Maze” at the Wisconsin Dells several years ago.
Chloe was 4 at the time, clearly the perfect age for one’s first haunted house. We knew she’d get scared, but she really wanted to go, and with three adults accompanying her we figured it would be fine. Besides, it was a haunted house at a family resort – how scary could it be? Pretty scary, as it turned out, and Chloe did end up crying. But not for the reason you think.
We started off in the Mine Shaft Mirror Maze. Chloe and I were in front holding hands, with Maggie and Anna close behind us. The maze was dark and creepy, and we were surrounded by frightening sounds.
“Can we leave now? I don’t like this.”
“No, Mommy, we just started.”
So we pressed on. I looked at Chloe, who was wide-eyed. I began carrying her so that we could talked about what we were seeing. We talked about why it was dark, why there was smoke, and why people liked to be scared in the first place. Then something popped up in front of us. I jumped, Chloe jumped in my arms, and Maggie and Anna screamed.
We made it through the maze and entered the Lobby. Body parts were everywhere. It was really well done and gross. Chloe and I kept talking as we made it through (at a decent pace), and though she was a little scared, she seemed to be enjoying it.
We continued on and were saved from the decapitated falling heads by Maggie, who saw them early and warned us. We entered the kitchen to see what was for supper, and it was about what you would expect. Arms, legs, eyeballs, intestines, hearts, various organs that I couldn’t identify, and lots of blood. Chloe asked if we served body parts for dinner. Of course, I said, but only when we have guests. “But Daddy, we’re vegetarians.”
“Or are we?”
She looked at me and said something she continues to say to this day (her little sister has also picked this up): “Oh, Daddy.” Then she added, “Where’s Mommy and Annie?”
I looked back. We had lost them. We called their names and faintly heard their frightened voices saying something that sounded like they were coming. How they got so far behind or why it had happened left our minds as we entered the saloon.
It was an old-timey saloon with more ghoulish sights all around. Chloe and I sauntered up to the bar, pretending to order drinks from the zombie-like bartender. I ordered a beer and Chloe ordered a chocolate milk. We talked to all the various stages of dead costumers as we waited for Maggie and Anna to catch up. We didn’t have to wait long. We heard them. Both of them, running. They entered the saloon, with Maggie leading the way. Both looked terrified. Chloe saw Maggie and said “Mommy! Come - -“ She never got to finish that sentence because Maggie interrupted her as she dashed past, yelling:
“We’re all going to die!!!” *
Then they were gone. Headed for the exit, leaving us in their dust. I looked at Chloe, who had been so brave and was now convinced that she was going to die. She started bawling. I thought of trying to calm her down (there was one more room, after all), but decided it might be best to hightail it out of the haunted hotel as well.
Outside, we saw Maggie and Anna, still looking scared but relieved, waiting for us. Chloe recovered more quickly and said, “Mommy, you scared me.”
“Or did I save you?”
That was almost 4 years ago, and it’s still one of our favorite stories. Chloe manages to bring it up a lot, often at the most inappropriately appropriate times. Like around a bunch of friends, or strangers, or even at church. Always without context.
“Mommy, remember that time you scared me ‘cause you screamed that we were all going to die?”
*I still contend that we were all going to die. –Ed.
Here it is. Steven's blog, where his thoughts about things are revealed. Good luck.