Every October, Carowinds theme park takes what is already a parent’s worst nightmare and turns it into the Halloween horror that promises to haunt our children into Thanksgiving. The trick is to reassure and reiterate that the monsters in the park are not real.
In fact, we’re so determined to make the point that we accept an invitation to come early, enter through the employee entrance and watch the makeup artists transform man into monster.
See? It’s not real. That man doesn’t really have a hatchet in his head. That lady isn’t really missing half her face. And that man with the chainsaw is not a real surgeon. At least not a licensed one. And that clown over there, well, he …
OK, he’s scary. And he’s giant, like The Hulk, Mr. Clean and Godzilla rolled into one. With Tim Burton as his stylist, as he’s dressed like Beetlejuice, but made up like Heath Ledger’s evil Joker in that Batman movie.
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And this is exactly why we’re all terrified of clowns. The movies made them scary, and life made them twisted. They wear disguises to hide their faces, and display silly emotions to hide their feelings. Nobody knows the man under the makeup … the pain behind the greasepaint. Or how in the world they squeeze 15 of them into a tiny car.
We make our way into the darkness when suddenly a “surgeon” from The Slaughter House, wearing an apron and gloves covered in blood runs up to us. And with a terrifying laugh screeches, “slicey slicey!”
“It’s not real, it’s not real!” I shout, as I try to pull 11 boys off the ground and off each other. And for the next three hours we are chased and chastised by ghouls and zombies – as we flinch, crouch and cringe to the point I’m going to need a chiropractor to pull my head out of my chest cavity.
We survive the sanctuary of the living dead and finally make our way back to the employee entrance. When out of the darkness steps … the clown! Stripped down to just baggy pants and dirty tank top under clown suspenders, his makeup is smeared and smudged from the heat. And no doubt years of dark despair and depression.
“What are you doing back here!” he bellows. “Get outta here, it’s a private area!” As he moves towards us, the kids look back, their eyes wide, waiting for the reassurance we’ve been giving them all night. It’s not real, right, Mrs. Curtis?
Oh it’s real. He’s real, this is real and he’s really going to kill us. Somebody yells RUN! – pretty sure it’s me. And we go screaming into the parking lot, sprinting to the closest car, scrambling into the doors, cramming all 13 of us inside.
Oh. So this is how they do it …
Curtis: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tracyleecurtis.com