Ghosts and goblins and scaredy cats

I love Halloween. As I write this column, my wife is wearing a witch’s hat and decorating the inside of our house with various Halloween themed knick-knacks. (Seriously. She’s hardcore with this stuff.)

We moved from my hometown about three years ago. Back at our old house, our neighborhood was the go-to place for trick-or-treating on Halloween. In fact, it was such a go-to place that we had to get the police involved to help with traffic control every Halloween.

Because of the perfect setting – flat streets, lots of street lights, and ample candy – folks would come from all over to go trick-or-treating in that neighborhood. And they came trick-or-treating one year to the point where we had a traffic backlog that would make Bangkok impressed.

The following year, we were proactive. Working with the local police, we had the entrances blocked off to cars, and those interested in coming to trick-or-treat had to park across the street at a nearby rec field parking lot. We kept count for a few years, and we had more than 1,000 trick-or-treaters each Halloween. And it was awesome.

Granted, some neighbors did not like the trick-or-treating onslaught. I respectfully disagree with them. I am all for anyone and everyone coming out for a nice night of trick-or-treating in a safe place and I’m happy to fill their treat bags with goodies. Like many neighbors, we would pull a table out to the front of the driveway and invite friends and family to pool candy resources together with us, so as not to break the bank on candy.

Our neighborhood now is still a fine place to trick-or-treat, although we don’t get nearly the same volume. Plus, my kids have aged out of the whole process, so they are more content with giving out candy, or, in some cases, just standing around and Snap Chatting.

So, Halloween, good. We all agree? Well now I have to say, “Halloween” bad. And I add quotes because I am referring to the movie. And I am not making a commentary on the merits of the movie itself, but rather as it is representative of the one movie genre I simply cannot watch.

Now, I know there are plenty of horror movie junkies out there who find this to be blasphemy. Let’s be clear: If you like ‘em, go watch ‘em. But I’ll pass.

I’m 44 years old and I know full well that a movie is just people pretending to be someone they aren’t in real life. And I also know that asleep Mike does not know that.

I know precisely the origins of my horror movie issues. It was the early 80s, and we received a free weekend of Cinemax, as the cable channels would periodically do. Unlike the other cable channels, Cinemax showed R-rated movies during the day. My mom told me that I was absolutely not to watch any R-rated movies. So naturally, I watched an R-rated movie during the day, specifically, “The Shining.” And I am pretty sure I did not sleep for about the next 14 months.

Having learned my lesson from that movie, I had a pretty good drought of horror movies until somewhere around 1996, when I watched “Scream.” At that point, I was in my mid 20s, and I was of course fully aware that it was just a movie and surely nothing that would creep into my subconscious late at night. And cue viciously horrific nightmares that kept me up for the next few nights.

I have not watched a horror movie in more than 20 years, and I plan to keep that streak going. As everyone enjoys Halloween in their own special ways, I hope that those who love horror movies will keep enjoying them. I, however, will not be partaking. I’ll stick to what I know. Which is handing out candy and wondering just how long my wife will wear the witch hat around.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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