Hallowe'en approaches, and in Bucks County, that means Just One Thing: time for a Haunted Hayride! Or a Haunted House. Or a Haunted Barn. Or... y'know... a Haunted Laundramat. Whatever.
Maybe it's a phenomenon that extends beyond my corner of Pennsylvania, but I am hard pressed to believe that many places in the world take things quite so far.
For the unenlightened, local volunteer fire companies, ambulance corps, the JayCees, just about anybody, will spend November through September preparing to transform some location into a costumed and made up chamber of horrors.
Haunted houses are a rip. Especially if you're wrecked on beer, which is the way I and my buddies from high school used to take in the experience. And, like the rest of the denizens of dear old Bucks, I also had the opportunity to be in on the production of a Haunted House. A few of them actually. The youth group at my Episcopal Church put one on annually. And when I was int he sixth grade, I organized a Haunted House for my class to do for the younger kids. It was great until it was shut down because we gave some of the younger kids nightmares and parents complained. (Yesss!)
Here's an example of my Haunted House brilliance. The Younge People's Fellowship if St. Paul's Episcopal Church set up shop in the sundays chool classrooms in the basement. I commandeered a room of my own, and had three assistants working with me. Job One was making scary looking trees and tombstones out of papiér-mache and such. Lighting was provided by a 40 watt lightbulb behind black gauze (y'know, the dim light of the moon). Then, we brought in the peat moss. Lots of peat moss. We covered the floor with peat moss. It was about six inches deep in most places. But it was mounded in front of the graves.
Maybe you see where this is going.
So our visitors would enter the room. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they'd notice the tombstones. We had goofy things written on them. Like, "Here lies Grace/ with the ugly face/ who couldn't get in/ either place." And seemingly, there was no one in the room. So after things got a little uncomfortable--nervous laughter was our signal--I and my cohorts would thrust a hand through the peat moss that buried us. All we'd do was sit up, and then groggily get to our feet, saying something like "blooooood... bloooooood.... Bloood! Must have Bloooood!"
Why I can still hear those blood-curdling screams.
OK. My point?
That was so Toppy! It had all the elements of a good scene! From the delight in the planning to the joy of the execution.
Come to think of it, the local Haunted House industry is sort of like training camp for budding Tops.
And you thought it was high school drama club.