I would rather let my teenaged sons select my spring wardrobe than go through a Halloween haunted house. I may be taking the risk of being seen next May in a stunning camo and chained wallet ensemble, but somehow I’d rather take that risk. It seems like raising two boys would have dulled my susceptibility to the undead wearing mismatched clothes and bearing chain saws long ago, but somehow a grown man chasing me like I’d recovered a fumble and making revving noises until the spit flies frightens me beyond consciousness. Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived long enough to know just what grown men are capable of.
For instance, I know of a man who, with one ill-timed twirl of his office chair, ripped the pull-out drawer of his desk (which he had unfortunately forgotten to un-pull) from its moorings sending thousands of helpless paperclips, ballpoint pens, and TicTacs skittering to their deaths across the floor of his cubicle. Because the drawer had not acted properly according to function and stubbornly refused to recede into the desk upon contact with the chair, he was able to claim that the accident was not his own fault but was, in fact, a hardware problem. The scary part of the story? This man is an employee of the world’s largest defense contractor.
Another example, eerily personal in nature, is this. I have daily contact with, and often wash the underwear of, a man who once worked diligently to create a working tabletop model of a medieval-style trebuchet, for the sole purpose of launching toy farm animals across the kitchen at the dog. Sure, he said he was helping the kids with a school project, but to this day the Labrador looks for flying cows before he’ll set one paw on the linoleum. I couldn’t housebreak the poor animal without setting up training runs through plastic livestock, and he can’t see the movie Twister without going all white around the whiskers.
It is not news that there are men who favor bungee jumping as a form of self expression. Recently, I received a video by e-mail, a form of information transference which upholds the laws of truth, that revealed a victim, er volunteer, dangling by harness from a high horizontal wire. The fact that the scene took place in a large cow pasture and the, um, volunteer was also attached to a team of flannel-shirted engineers atop a John Deere lawn tractor by a long bungee cord gave me pause, especially when the tractor headed downfield at speeds normally associated with phrases such as “Mach 1” and “boom.” The fellow in the harness didn’t pause though, because when the ground crew let go of the tether, he hurtled through space like a cow pie meteor, completed a full somersault with a half twist and landed with gusto in a flourishing maple tree. After that, of course, everybody wanted a turn.
Any one of these guys might be the maniac in the Halloween haunted house you visit. If he’s wielding a chain saw, you can probably make it out alive. But if he’s after you with a bungee cord, you won’t see your family again until you’re starring in a You Tube video with “Fly Like an Eagle” playing in the background.