Worlds of Fun’s Halloween Haunt, the House of Horrors on the Interstate, you name it, I’ve done it, all while dragging a conglomerate of screaming teen girls behind me. My daughter is impressed that none of the shenanigans at these places scare me. I don’t even jump when a “vampire” sticks his bloody fangs in my face. I do, though, offer him an Altoids.
To me these so-called haunted houses are for wimps. If you want to scare a middle-aged parent you’ve got to come up something that trumps what we’ve already endured. So far, these “bone chilling” residences have nothing on the terror associated with raising a family.
Get ready to scream, brace yourself for unimaginable fear because here’s a tour of a House of Horrors, the Parenting Years.
Your journey of doom begins in a garage where an attempt must be made to put a screaming, inconsolable, thrashing, baby in a car seat. After that nightmare, you then get in the car and are forced to listen to said baby scream, at a decibel level that exceeds the sound of a jet taking off, for at least 30 minutes.
When you mercifully escape the garage you’re chased by a Zombie hoard of HOA board members into a kitchen where it looks like abdominal surgery was performed. You quickly discover it’s only tomato sauce that exploded after being left on the stove for too long. But you start shrieking when a crazed, sauced covered, woman chases you around the kitchen, with a steak knife and a half filled wine glass, begging you to help her clean up the mess because she’s has to drive soccer carpool in less than five minutes.
You manage to flee the deranged mother only to slip on some angel hair pasta and slide head first into a bathroom where the smell, of what surely must be the stench of death, saturates your olfactory system. As you’re fighting back gagging you simultaneously scream when a man pops out from behind the toilet, waving his hands, full of Clorox wipes, in your face, wailing about potty training a toddler with bad aim and a temperamental bowel system that favors explosive diarrhea.
Running for your life you head for what looks to be a darkened family room but instead is a torture chamber. You fall again because what you thought was carpet is really 4,389,073 Lego bricks spread out over the floor. Right when you think the pain can’t get any worse your hand is speared by a Harry Potter Hogwarts castle Lego turret.
Slowly, you attempt to get up but are forced to lie face down in the Lego’s by mini humanoid life forms that want to use your body as a play mat for their My Little Ponies and Thomas the Tank Engine trains. These persistent creatures continue with their foul deeds by violating all four treaties of the Geneva Conventions as it relates to the treatment of prisoners by incessantly chanting, “Play with me?” while the Barney song coupled with a techno rap version of the Caillou theme is played on a continuous loop.
Finally, you break free and run up the stairs and go through the first door you see in an attempt to hide from the small but fierce minions. Alas, this room is even worse! You’ve entered teenage girl hell. Mounds of clothes are piled on the floor so high to scale them would require the assistance of a Sherpa. There’s also a shrill, Kardashian-ish whine coming from the bed. You don’t see the girl making the sound. All you hear is complaining that is so vile you know it has the power to steal your very soul. As you bolt for the door the disembodied voice moans, “I’m so tired. I hate my life. Our wi-fi sucks.”
A fight or flight surge carries you back downstairs and, as you race past the family room, careful not to make eye contact with the tiny ones, you head for the basement. You hope this is where you can finally make your get away. But oh the humanity, the travesty! There’s a twenty something who has made this subterranean dwelling his home! Six figures and counting spent on a college education and here lies the remains of adult child working retail at a GameStop until he can “figure out what he really wants to do.”
As you trip over video game controllers, boxer shorts and yesterday’s late night snack plates you pray for deliverance from this room of dashed parental dreams and give it everything you’ve got, and then some, to make it to the sliding glass door that will lead you away from this terror-topia.
You hit the yard and rejoice, thinking you’re free, until you trip on a bike that was thrown in the grass and are knocked unconscious while the family dog ardently sniffs your privates.
Are you scared yet? I know I am.