Monday, October 25, 2010
Since childhood, I have been blessed and cursed with an extremely overactive imagination. It's helpful with creative projects and such, but with other things, not so much. I've been afraid of the dark for as long as I can remember, convinced that there actually are things that go bump in the night. For years, no matter what the temperature, I slept with the blankets tucked snug under my chin for protection. And I had a night light.
I do not think I saw a legitimate horror movie until I was in the 6th grade. We watched "Sleep Away Camp" during a sleep over, twice, and both times I barely saw a thing because I had my eyes covered. I saw "Nightmare on Elm Street" at my cousin's house a year or so later and after trying to get to sleep (IN A WATERBED!?!?), I begged my Uncle Rob to drive me home. Not my best moment. I continued to get myself into these situations where I knew I shouldn't watch a movie, but I did anyway, because I found it fascinating. And each and every time, I ended the experience jumpy and shaking, having turned on every single light I could find.
Years later, I'm still cautious about all things horror. I watch scary films, but almost always in the daytime (often around 2pm on a Sunday). Recently, I watched Paranormal Activity, and even though the sun was shining, I was still freaked out enough to turn on all the lights in the shadowy rooms.
So, knowing all this, I still decided to accompany a group of friends to a haunted house (Asylum Xperiment in Villa Park, IL) for a birthday on Saturday evening. The last haunted house I went to was in high school and I knew all the actors, which helped immensely. Needless to say, I was super anxious about the whole thing, but I like my friends enough to celebrate their birthdays in a manner I'd usually shy away from.
We arrived at the "Asylum," which was a giant convention center in a warehouse district. I was shaking from the moment we stepped inside. I'm sure many in our group thought I was going to scream and run away before entering, but they were very supportive and offered to hold my hand and to keep me in the middle of the group when possible, etc. We waited for a good hour to get into the actual haunted house. I had moments where I totally forgot about the haunted house and just had fun. Other times, I was quiet and hiding my shaking hands. And then, it was time. I grabbed hands, huddled in the middle, took a deep breath and we entered...In the dark...Near-pitch dark. I immediately latched onto my friend Mel like a vice. You wouldn't have been able to slip a piece of paper between us. Once the pitch dark part ended we began entering themed rooms. It was some of the most creative set dressing I have ever seen. I was honestly really impressed. And I learned to enter a room and look for the following: a) the way out b) any container/door/wall that seemed like it could hold either a human or an animations that would jump out at us. I held onto Mel for dear life. I screamed like a mad lady. I whimpered. And finally, hoarse and shaking, we emerged...and I was happy! I was ecstatic! Not only had I survived, but I actually kind of enjoyed myself. It was delightful. And you know what? I'd do it again!