I no longer sleep with a light on. It's been years since I had to peek out of the shower curtain every 5 minutes looking for Norman Bates. I only check closets and under beds on those rare evenings I get home and realize I left the garage door open all day. Most of my childhood ghosts and superstitions have been scared away by advancing age, growing wisdom, and working-woman's exhaustion that makes me not care so much if a homicidal maniac is hiding out in my basement to murder me in my sleep so long as it gets me out of a faculty meeting the next day.
That does not mean I've outgrown being afraid. For I still see the boogeyman. It's just that now he looks like suspicious growths, fiery auto accidents, and women who have borne multiple children and yet still wear size 4 skinny jeans. Seriously? Nothing scarier.
So this Halloween I will not be frightened by Michael or Freddie or Jason (the masked murderer) or Jason (the husband who likes to startle me in my sleep by having the nerve to think that he can just wander into our bedroom willy-nilly while I'm having a nightmare about tax audits). I'll only be spooked by the truly scary things in life, which aren't so easy to dress up as for trick-or-treat.
Unexplained basement floods. (The water's coming from inside the house!) Melanoma. A large spider that disappears in your bedroom in the 2 seconds it takes for you to retrieve a shoe. Colonoscopies. A really long and recurring hair in a mole. Loss. Being so desperate for money and power that you put all your principles aside to become the kingpin of a drug cartel specializing in blue meth and high body counts.
Actually, I hear Walter White is going to be the big costume of the year, so I guess that last one's totally do-able.
This year, instead of watching monster movie marathons and the creepier episodes of The X-Files, I will be freaking myself out checking for lumps and swollen lymph nodes, running a credit report to look for signs of identity theft, and maybe spending some time standing next to our washing machine, which may or may not have been part of a recall of washers that have randomly exploded during the spin cycle.
Because on October 31st, everyone deserves a good scare. Don't look now, but your retirement plans might have just walked up behind you, ready to say, "Boo!"
Happy Halloween, fellow adults.