My first warning should have been when my date told me our evening was going to be a "surprise". In my experience, surprising me rarely ends well for all parties involved.
But, I was young - 19 or 20, I think - and he was a fun and romantic guy intent on creatively wooing me. So, I thought to myself, "Hey, self, try being spontaneous for once! It'll be fun, right? Right!
My only hint of what was to come before he picked me up that chilly October evening was when he told me to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes.
Still, when he proceeded to take us far out of town into the sparsely populated countryside, I have to admit my inner monologue was starting to sound something like this:
Ummm. Okay. This isn't scary or anything. I'm sure he's totally NOT a serial killer taking me to a secluded spot to chop me into tiny pieces. But, just in case I'm wrong, let's just examine the handle on this car door in the event that I may need to jump out and run for my life.
So, I have to admit I was just a little relieved when we turned a corner and came upon a big lighted parking lot out there in the middle of nowhere.
Of course, that relief turned to dread again when I realized we were at a "Haunted Forest".
Now, here's something you need to know about your Auntie Zen, children: I don't do scary.
I've never worn a scary Halloween costume, I don't watch horror movies; I only rarely read scary books (and then it's only during daylight hours and I usually follow it with a Disney movie chaser to get the ick out); I'd rather roast s'mores than listen to a spooky campfire story; and I've been known to totally freak myself out a la the Blair Witch Project over unidentified noises and shadows in the dark. (By the way, the person who forced me to watch the Blair Witch Project - I'm still not speaking to him.) For heaven's sake, I slept with a night light until I was ... oh, wait, I still sleep with a night light!
And I most definitely DO NOT do Haunted Houses.
So, yeah, you get the idea ... having scary things jump out at me in close quarters is pretty high on my things-I-never-want-to-do list.
My enthusiasm was for this "surprise" date was flagging just a bit at this point.
But, hey, I'm a trooper. I can do this! It will be fun! Right? Right!
I was pondering whether or not I might have preferred the "So I Dated an Axe Murderer" scenario when said date grabbed me by the hand and enthusiastically led me right past the kiddie games and the hay ride and the corn maze and straight to the "Haunted Forest".
Okay. Pull it together, you. Look at the little kids going in there in front of you! If they can do it, you can do it.
Just about then, the screams started drifting out of the thicket of trees.
"Um, so, are you sure you don't want to go do the bean bag toss or bob for apples or ... " I started.
"Oh, don't be scared," my date was the picture of manly support. "I'll be right there with the you the whole time."
More screams. And now, growling noises.
Ohmigawd-ohmigawd-ohmigawd. Self, we do NOT want to go in there, right? Right!
"Or we could go make out!" I said, desperate now.
That almost did it. He paused, but then laughed and handed our tickets to the nice witch at the entrance. "Don't worry, it's just good fun."
Famous last words.
Okay, self, suck it up. You can do this. Oh, and self, you should maybe not squeeze your date's hand so hard. I think his fingers are turning blue. And try not to think about the dark branches that seem to be reaching out to grab you... or the dark, tight space closing in on you ... or that rustling noise in the bushes ahead ... or that sound like heavy breathing near your ear.
I was pressed up against my date so tightly at this point that you couldn't see light between us - even if there had been light to see. Which there wasn't. Because it was freakin' dark in there. Did I mention I don't like the dark?
Okay, breathe, you can do this. Right? ... Right? Um ...
I honestly could not tell you a single thing about the first 1/3 of that haunted forest, except to say that it scared the bejeebus out of me. I've blocked out all the traumatic details.
But I do know that I was damn-near hyperventilating by the time the werewolf jumped us.
We were coming around a corner when the werewolf leaped out of the bush right next to me - meaty arms raised, sharp claws reaching, pointy canines bared, a deep throaty growl on his bloodthirsty lips ...
What the hell do you think I did? I shrieked like a little girl and jumped about two feet backwards - tripping over an exposed tree root in the process and landing on my ass - but not before I heard an ominous *snap* from the general direction of my ankle.
My date honestly did not believe me at first when I told him I was pretty sure I'd broken my ankle.
But, he jerry-rigged a (pretty decent!) field splint and helped the EMTs carry me basket style out of the thick trees. Then he followed the (probably unnecessary) ambulance to the nearest emergency room. And he sat with me in the exam room and entertained and distracted me while the (definitely necessary) pain meds kicked in.
Ahhh, drugs are good. Everything will be okay, now right? Right.
I still think he only really believed my ankle was actually broken when the doctor showed us the x-rays. But he was still very chivalrous and attentive during the whole evening.
Especially when the werewolf showed up again.
Yep, the young man who played the werewolf at the Haunted Forest actually stopped by the emergency room when he got off of work to check on me. Wasn't that sweet?
I gave him a hug. Of course, I was all hopped up on those really good pain meds by then, so I'm pretty sure I was hugging nurses, doctors, x-ray techs, and anybody else who said a kind word to me at that point.
I think my date was just a teensy bit jealous when the werewolf - who was kinda cute without his mask - gave me his phone number and asked me to call him to let him know that I was okay. (Please note me NOT making the obvious dogs-fighting-over-a-bone joke here. You're welcome.)
For their part, the Haunted Forest folks sent me a bright orange t-shirt that said "I survived the [redacted] Haunted Forest". (Later, I corrected it by adding "barely" with a Sharpie.) They also sent me some free passes to come back.
Believe it or not ... this is not the weirdest date I've ever been on. Or even the only date to end in medical treatment.
Even more amazing? There was a third date with Haunted Forest guy.
But that's another story ...
How about you? Have a good haunted house (or forest or whatever) story? Well then gather 'round our virtual campfire and do tell ...
2 years ago