I was 7 years old, outside at night with 40 male strangers, shivering in my winter coat.
And excited to be there.
My older brother’s Cub Scout Troop had invited the Scouts and their families to a late October nighttime bonfire on a farm… including a visit to its haunted house!
Fidgeting in line outside the two-story grey outbuilding, my mom and I stamped our feet and hugged ourselves to stay warm.
Pairs of people in warm coats, many times a parent gripping the hand of a hopping child, stood between me and my goal.
Mom and I could hear occasional slams and screams coming from the haunted house. I wondered what was happening on the other side of the wall, and my heart pounded a little faster each time she and I shuffled a foot closer to the entrance.
At the slow speed of two people stepping across the dark threshold every minute, this was taking forever!
When I finally pulled Mom inside, I immediately noticed the room was dimly lit with strange purple bulbs. I had excellent night vision (contrary to my eye doctor’s prediction- that’s another story!), so I guided Mom from room to room. We jumped and screamed as we were startled.
Then we walked into a big room, darker than the others.
Even my eyes had trouble seeing the details. A long wooden box lay on a table in the middle of the scuffed board floor.
Nothing happened as we walked around inside the room, so we decided to find our way to the next room.
We walked the edge of the room, sliding our mittened hands over the walls covered in smooth black plastic, feeling for a doorknob or door frame leading to the next room. We circled at least twice with no luck.
By this point, any of my leftover fear had deflated into frustration.
Then, half of the long box opened with a drawn-out creak. A man dressed in formal wear calmly sat up. I smiled wide with happiness– maybe he could help!
I was taught to address strangers politely, so I asked, “Excuse me, sir, my mom and I are having trouble finding the door. Where is it?”
He stiffly unfolded his arm, with the white hand dripping a dark liquid. I guess those fangs made it hard to talk, because he didn’t say a word. And I LOVED his black cape- very stylish. He was definitely dressed for Halloween!
When it was clear which direction he was pointing, I said, “Thank you very much,” and led Mom out of that room.
Later, as we were roasting marshmallows around the bonfire, she revealed that the man in the box was supposed to be Count Dracula, and I was expected to be scared about him.
I shrugged my shoulders and replied, “We needed help and suddenly there he was! I was just happy he could point us to the door!”
As An Adult Looking Back… Where others saw fear, I saw a solution. Don’t Prejudge! You might meet ‘the perfect person” at a surprising time….and if the situation turns sour, scream and run!