I’m sure if your local stores are anything like mine, you’ve had Halloween candy and pumpkin spice candles on displays since July, but the season doesn’t quite feel right until that first morning when you step outside and get a gust of cold air that reminds you that you are wearing seasonally inappropriate attire. The atmosphere that comes around when the leaves start to change colors and the air gets that nice crisp feeling.
I enjoy fall, but I will happily admit that I am a scaredy cat. The spooky season comes not only with crunchy orange leaves, but with haunted houses and scary movies and all the things that go bump in the night. And I spend much of the season with my hands over my eyes hoping to avoid nightmares.
To enjoy the atmosphere of the spooky season while being easily terrified has become a challenge. I try to only watch scary movies in the middle of the day when all the lights are on and I’ve confirmed the doors and windows are locked. I reach for more atmospheric fair over your classic jump scares. I enjoy films aimed classically at children like Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown. I find my music taste moves away from summer bops to more seasonally appropriate music. And all of a sudden I start craving apple cider donuts.
Most of the time I can avoid the worst of the season – I skip friend’s invites to watch the newest scary show and have a firm line about not venturing to any haunted houses, but sometimes I am convinced (FOMO is real, y’all). One such instance was my first year of college. I told myself to say yes to every opportunity, which is how I ended up on a ropes course and how I ended up a part of a gospel choir.
So when my RA came around asking if anyone wanted to go to a haunted house in one of the campus fraternity houses, I was reluctant. She convinced me by saying that we were going on Wednesday, which was “kids night”, so it couldn’t possibly be too scary. I said alright and signed up. When we arrived, our group of six was led around to the back of the house and sent in. We lined up and held on to each other’s shoulders as we made our way through. I have to apologize to the girl in front of me because her coat had permanent claw marks from when I held on for dear life. It’s not the gory or the gross, and clowns aren’t even that frightening. It was the jump scares of which this particular house seemed fond of. My eyes might have been closed for the majority of the adventure and that breath of fresh air once we left was wonderful. On our way back to the dorm, I joked with one of the people who had run the event that it was awfuly scary for “kids night” to which they replied “Kids night was yesterday”.
My RA didn’t hear the end of that for a few months and I made a friend from across the hall confirm that there wasn’t anyone hiding in my room before I went to sleep for the night. And I haven’t been to another haunted house since.
Will I ever happily watch a scary movie? No. Will I let that keep me from enjoying autumn? Also no. But for now, I’ll avoid cemeteries at night and playing with ouija boards, and instead enjoy a handful of candy corn.