Late October and early November, as everyone knows, is the scariest time of the year.
Many of us are afraid to unroll our morning's copy of the Observer.
Others tremble at the thought of trying to watch the evening news or even a “Seinfeld” rerun.
Still others start to twitch and moan at the simple idea of getting into the car to drive to work in the morning.
Is it ghosts stalking our days and haunting our dreams as autumn shortens down beyond Halloween and toward Thanksgiving?
Is it witches, werewolves, zombies, or flesh-eating ghouls intruding into our routine and threatening to drive us mad with fear and loathing?
Is it vampires, she-devils, he-devils, or creepy, crawly things going bump in the night, turning our lives into an unceasing carnival of darkness this time of year?
Nope, none of the above.
In fact, all of the above would be a lot easier to live with than the true terrors that surround us.
You can always pour water on a witch. (Hey, it worked in “The Wizard of Oz.” Although for my money, I'd rather someone had poured water, a lot of it, on that annoying little dog, Toto.)
A sharp stake through the heart is guaranteed to put an end to that pesky vampire problem, and a steak served so rare that the blood gushes with each cut is sure to send Aunt Mildred home screaming.
Bright lights, strategically placed mirrors and a few cloves of garlic will usually serve to put vampires to flight. (Maybe Aunt Mildred has a perpetual fear of vampires. What else could explain that breath?)
And as for zombies, the undead, the living dead, the walking dead, and Department of Motor Vehicle employees, simply plop them in the living room in front of the Nature Channel. They'll sleep the sound sleep of the truly dead soon enough.
How then, given the ease with which supernatural terrors can be combated, are we to deal with horrors far less phantasmal, but infinitely more frightening?
On the television, the blaring advertisements come one after another.
McCain wants to raise your taxes.
No, Obama wants to raise your taxes.
McCain cares about working people.
Obama cares more about working people.
Obama will drill for oil offshore.
McCain will drill for oil in Aunt Mildred's head.
Perdue will do more for you.
No, McCrory will see this thing through. (Catchy, huh?)
Switch from the television to the radio, at least on the AM band, and the programming is just as bad as the advertisements.
Obama is a Muslim.
Obama is a terrorist.
Obama doesn't drink Sun Drop, won't touch pinto beans, and never even heard of liver mush.
Left-wing radio does not exist, at least in this area, but if it's out there somewhere, I'm sure the message is equally balanced and enlightening.
McCain is too old.
McCain is senile.
McCain really thinks Sarah Palin is the best choice he could make. (Now that is really scary.)
And as for that morning commute to work?
In the days of my youth, the most frightening road side signs said “See Rock City,” or “Eat at Joe's.”
Now, like mushrooms sprouting after a rain, signs at intersections, signs in yards, and signs wherever the ground is flat and the weeds aren't too high proclaim “Vote for My Guy!”
So, how do we survive two more days of this blather, this unending assault upon our intelligence, this frightening intrusion into our lives?
Watch only football. But keep the remote handy, even then.
Read only the sports section.
Don't turn on the car radio. Listen to CDs, or, even better, meditate silently.
Keep your eyes focused solely on the road, looking neither to the left nor to the right.
And finally, take time to vote on Tuesday.
It's the very best exorcism possible.