I am one of those people who love to be scared. Be it a haunted house or a scary movie, I totally dig it. I like the idea of being scared without being in any real danger. In all honesty I giggle at scary things more often than I scream or jump these days, but it has not always been so.
When I was young, like seven, my mother took my brother and I to a haunted house at the Witte Museum of natural history in San Antonio. The idea of staging a haunted house inside of a history museum is positively brilliant. I mean come on the thing is full of actual dinosaur skeletons, how cool is that?
I can remember the haunt very clearly to this day. Somehow my mother ended up being the only adult in a group of kids who were all between 7 and 10. My brother and I were the only two kids not in costume since it wasn't actually on Halloween. We didn't really care though.
I remember there was a girl dressed as a ghost, the classic sheet over the head, as our guide. She led us through rooms where coffins slowly squeaked open to reveal vampires inside trying to get us, a courtyard where witches were brewing some smoking brew and calling for us to come taste it, and at the very end a butcher shop full of human body parts and a man with a cleaver swinging at anyone daring to leave. There were lots of shrieks of terror from the group and my mother was covered in makeup from the children who kept pressing against her in fear.
The room that stands out to me the most though was the courtyard scene. It was a long narrow courtyard full of trees. Bodies would drop down from the trees attached to a noose just as we walked by. A man dug his way out of a fresh grave clawing at our tiny ankles. Things moved in the darkness. It was all very effective.
As we approached the end of the courtyard there was a long hedgerow with a gate set into it. We all knew what was going to happen. Even at the tender age of seven I knew that a solid gate set into a hedgerow was going to fly open at the last second with someone jumping out and screaming at us. It was so obvious. We were all prepared for it and still knew it would scare us.
Scare us it did.
We reached the end of the hedge. The ghost reached for the gate. The gate flew open and a hunchback leaped out onto the path screaming at us. All of the children shrieked in terror and crushed up against my mother getting more white clown makeup on her sweater. And I screamed 'Oh shit!'.
Yes that is right, I screamed a profanity as loud as my little lungs would let me. I could be heard over all the shrieking children, over the screaming hunchback, over the eerie soundtrack that was playing. It was clear for all to hear.
The world went silent. Everyone slowly turned to look at me as it sank in what I had said. The children's eyes were as big as saucers, my mother looked mortified, and the ghost and hunchback looked momentarily shocked.
That is about the time I realized what I had said and responded the only way I could at the moment; I said Oh shit again.
My mothers hand suddenly clasped down over my mouth and she began to bodily drag me backwards away from the group. The now giggling ghost and hunchback started to usher the other children forward and away from whatever my mother was going to say to me.
Honestly I don't remember what she said to me. I think mostly she made frustrated gestures and said we would talk about it later. It could have been because our group was leaving us or that the haunters were all staring at us or it could be that it was just that ridiculous a situation.
The rest of the haunt I closely guarded myself to keep from screaming out anything else that might get me in more trouble than I was already in.
To this day that haunt stands out in my mind as the scariest and funniest haunt I have ever been to. I have so many friends who are now professional haunters and I hear the stories about how they proudly caused children to cuss in front of their parents and I can't help but giggle a little. In my mind I see that hunchback sitting at an IHop at 3am laughing with his friends and relating the story of the little girl who screamed 'Oh shit' and then said 'Oh shit' when she realized what happened.
I hope they had a good laugh at it, because I know I still have a good laugh at it to this day.