Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

Halloween is my most favorite day of the year. I love any excuse to dress up and relish that there’s at least one day annually when it’s totally normal to do so. As much as I love this ghoulish time of year, thought, I hate to be scared.

Surprisingly, I’ve never been one for haunted houses or scary movies. I don’t mind the skeleton decorations or even the spooky feeling that looms over the entire month of October. What I do mind is the weird obsession people have with scaring themselves with sick, twisted shit.

I have enough anxiety every other day of the year. Why convince my paranoia that gruesome murder is an imminent threat?

When I was a kid, my friends were always forcing me to get into the Halloween spirit by watching horror films that made me live my nightmares. I only watched them to seem cool. There’s nothing worse than being called a wuss in middle school. Getting post traumatic stress from terrifying visual stimulus seemed less scary to me than name calling on Monday.

As an adult, there’s no one pressuring me into doing things I don’t want to. Thus, each year, I wonder if I lose out on the “fear factor” of Halloween. People get so into everything scary, and it’s the one part of Halloween I don’t experience anymore. I love ridiculous costumes, over the top decorations and pumpkin spiced everything. When it comes to guts and gore, though, I turn away.

I’ve never been to the 13th Gate, and I walked out of the Myrtles after the first room. Apparently, that one mirror was enough to scare my nine-year-old self into wasting an entire field trip sitting on a bench outside.

Each Halloween, I wonder: Do some people get the “scary” gene while others don’t?

Recently, my fiancé admitted he too hated horror movies and haunted houses. “Thank God,” I thought. I’ve picked someone who can share my disinterest in something that seems to interest everyone else but me. I’m a very fun person, but I’m always the party pooper when it comes to the macabre.

That relief subsided for a bit when I felt like something was missing from my October experience. There was a split second where I thought: “Oh, no. Now, no one will ever force me to do those terrible things I never want to.”

I thought most guys liked to be scared; it’s an adrenaline thing. I always assumed I’d be with a dude who coerced me into watching Human Centipede or some equally disgusting film I would never watch on my own accord.

I love having friends that like different things than me. Hanging out with someone who has contrasting wants and needs means I get to experience things I wouldn’t on my own.

Recently, with some healthy pressure by my fiancé, I did the sky coaster – that big ride where they strap you to your loved ones then drop you a couple hundred feet in the air from a swing. It was awesome.

In all reality, I wanted to do the sky coaster. But I needed someone to convince me to do it. I guess that’s what I always hoped being scared would be for me: something I would never do on my own but worth it in the end.

But are frights really worth it in the end?

The one time I went to a haunted house when I was a kid I worked myself into a complete frenzy. I remember holding onto my friend for dear life yelling: “You can’t touch me! Legally you can’t touch me!” I’m sure the actors loved me.

I was already fairly afraid of the dark and that makeshift haunted house in the old Ag Center at LSU solidified my fear. I’m fairly certain I had a baby panic attack and the posttraumatic stress of the event lasted even longer.

Are we so bored in our everyday life that we have to raise our adrenaline levels by seeing maimed victims jumping out at us on screen or in “real life”? I don’t have anything against these Halloween traditions but I don’t think us “wusses” should be chastised for abstaining from the gore.

I guess we each get a rush in our own way. Some people revel in watching humans being tortured like in Saw or Hostel while some of us look away in disgusted horror. Personally, I get my fix by getting up onstage. And if you saw some of the neighborhoods I’ve performed in, you might be afraid of the dark too.

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