Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I think, and I’m pretty sure Halloween is my least favorite so as far as I’m concerned we’ve turned an important corner. Somehow, this Halloween, I was appointed to take Charlotte and three of her 12 year old friends to the Haunted Cornfield Maze in Newberry. In addition to wandering the maze while getting chased by teenagers with chainsaws, we also bought tickets for the Hayride. There are no surviving photographs of me from that night because I was mostly in tears and I have a reputation to uphold. Here’s what I didn’t like about the Cornfield Maze: it was hot, dark (I don’t see well in the dark), extremely loud (it would not be an exaggeration to say there were at least a dozen chainsaws whirring incessantly), it was expensive, I wasn’t wearing the right shoes to run for my life in slippery mud, and my natural anxiety level is already tuned to high without walking into a spider web while being chased by a pack of bloodthirsty clowns. Here’s what I liked about the Maze: once I made it to the exit I could sit at a well-lit picnic table and have a snack in relative peace.
The Haunted Hayride was ten times worse. We waited in line for over an hour and that whole time I was consoling myself with the notion that a good, old-fashioned hayride, particularly after the trauma of the corn maze, would at least be a nice, bucolic diversion. Plus I needed something calm and peaceful to help me digest what was now becoming a worrisome hotdog. Nowhere did I see a sign describing it as a “Haunted” Hayride. Charlotte and her friends didn’t think to mention it either. When we finally took our seats on the hay bales, a crusty old farmhand yelled to everyone aboard that we were not to touch her “boys” and, in turn, these “boys” would not touch us. While this sounded like a fair bargain, I immediately knew, based on the group of rabble-rousers I was sitting with, that this sacred contract would be broken as soon as the first ghouls appeared. The tractor lurched to life and we took a sharp turn down a deep, dark stretch of the farm where I could immediately hear chainsaws buzzing in the thicket.
If you saw Mad Max: Fury Road you can pretty much guess what happened next. For what seemed like hours but was probably more like 5 minutes, we were assaulted from all directions by crazy clowns, deranged butchers, and an assortment of more traditional Halloween monsters, all armed with either chainsaws, sledgehammers, or barbaric looking farm implements. Some of the bolder ones quickly boarded the trailer to terrorize us face-to-mask. It was terrifying for me not because I’m afraid of clowns, or skeletons, or Freddy Kruegers or any of that stuff. I do have a healthy fear of weaponized teenagers who consider lurking in the woods to scare the daylights out of city-folk to be an interesting way to spend a hot Saturday night. Of course, my fears were ultimately unfounded and everyone survived. Some people even seemed to enjoy it. I exited the trailer and barricaded myself in a Porta-Potti to regain my composure. I finally felt comfortable and safe, which is saying something.
I expect Thanksgiving to be a lot less dramatic and I’m looking forward to hiking in the woods of North Carolina in the bright sunshine.