On Saturday night, Chase and a few friends went to “Terror Behind the Walls” at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Each year this abandoned (and supposedly haunted) prison, opens its doors in the weeks leading up to Halloween with the goal of scaring the pants off its visitors. This year they advertised an “all new attraction” – The Machine Shop – promising “terror like you’ve never felt.”


Terror Behind the Walls 2014 from Terror Behind the Walls on Vimeo.

For some reason I will never understand, the boys were over the moon excited about the outing as they wanted to up the ante from last year’s visit to “The Bates Motel,” a frightening, but local spook house. At the rate they are going, by the time they are seniors in high school, we may have to pay someone to actually torture them for a few hours so that they can continue to climb this fright curve to new heights. I mentioned this idea to Chase to which he informed me that “somewhere in San Diego – you can actually do that!”

San Diego? Really?

Maybe Pittsburgh or Scranton or Rochester, but San Diego? What do they do?  Lock the kids in a room and tell them that there’s rain the forecast tomorrow? But I digress.

Chase and his friends (and anyone else who pays to be frightened) are easy and fun targets because I truly don’t comprehend the appeal. For me, haunted houses and horror movies are right up there with dental work and traffic jams.  Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.  I don’t even like to tell people I have the hiccups because I worry they may try to scare them out of me. About three or four times a year, one of my guys will need to get my attention while I am blow drying my hair. Let’s just say you do NOT want to be that person who approaches me unnoticed and taps me on the shoulder. Ask them. It’s bad.

But this time of year “what scares you most” is a topic on the minds of many. It really is a very intimate question – one that I’ve never really spent much time on in terms of examining my own fears – or the fears of those I love. It’s probably because to do so would reveal vulnerabilities that perhaps aren’t ready for primetime. But then again, there is much to be gained by shining light into our darkest corners. Right?

So here goes.

  • I am afraid of bugs, mice, bats and snakes – but only when they are places they are NOT supposed to be – like my family room.
  • Per above, I hate being startled. Do not sneak up on me or hide and jump out and yell Boo. If you do, plan a very nimble retreat.
  • I think zombies are funny. But those two twin girls in The Shining? Creepy.
  • I am NOT afraid of catching Ebola. At all. I’m not afraid of germs. I have now guaranteed that I will ultimately be killed by a germ.
  • I am desperately afraid of plane hijackers. Or plane crashes. I have become less afraid of in flight turbulence although I’m still not a fan.
  • I am not concerned about bridges but I am afraid of tunnels that go underwater. Not the tunnels themselves but the possibility that they could burst open and drown the people in the cars going through them.
  • I am very scared of cancer, more so than any other life threatening disease.
  • Sometimes when I walk the dog at night, I am a little scared that the boogie man is waiting for me in the bushes.
  • I am not comfortable with Marilyn Manson.
  • I have a serious fear of dying – all based entirely around the FOMO once I am gone. I try to pair this fear with a nice swig of hope for an afterlife that really rocks.
  • I am mostly frightened of losing people I love, or having them go through any sort of pain. That is what scares me the most. It hits closest to home and is unfortunately an inevitable part of living.

Ironically one of my biggest fears is that making my fright list public will tempt the fates to see if I am speaking the truth. Will writing them here inoculate me against these experiences or create a negative energy that attracts such bad fortune to me? I guess we will see.

But to Chase and his friends, I am so glad that they need to pay hard-earned cash to scare themselves silly. May they stay young and invincible just a little while longer. And let it be years before they can join the club where you can get all of this good old fashioned dread for free.


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