Last week NPR was talking about parents that actually hire people to scare the crap out of their children. Apparently there’s an evil clown in Switzerland you can hire to stalk your child for the seven days leading up to their birthday – culminating in a terrifying pie-in-the-face surprise attack on their “big day.”
I know it’s not even remotely politically correct to see humor in this, but the part of me that’s fed up with pulling birthday party ideas out of my ass – does find it funny.
“The frightening fun can be stopped at any time, which is handy for parents who have second thoughts and don’t fancy the cost of child therapy!”
Hosting scary birthday parties would’ve been a good career choice for my parents – they were doing this type of thing long before this Deville guy became trendy. My sister’s birthday was near Halloween and since we were like The Addam’s Family without trying to be, we always had haunted slumber parties.
My dad would take us trick-or-treating in his spooky vintage limousine, a 1958 Fleetwood.
He would help us toilet paper or egg the houses of people who didn’t give us treats. Then he’d take us home and we’d set up our sleeping bags in the master bedroom. We would spend the night conducting seances, contacting Pocohontas on the Ouija board, and running in and out of the pitch-dark bathroom trying to conjure the ghost of Mary Worth in the mirror. We’d carve pumpkins and pop Jiffy Pop and work ourselves up into an altered state of otherworldly terror. It was fantastic.
At one of these parties my dad popped his head in the door of the bedroom and said quietly (he had a British accent, which made it even scarier):
If one of you drops so much as a single kernel of popcorn, I am going to fry your little butts off with a red-hot frying pan.
And then he closed the door.
“But Deville is not an escaped lunatic or some demonic monster. He is a birthday treat, hired by mum and dad!”
This sent us into a frenzy – was he really going to fry our butts off with a frying pan? – and so on. My sister’s friend Coco boldly tossed a kernel of popcorn at him and ran back into the bedroom. When we peeked out again a few minutes later – he was gone. But there was a frying pan heating up on the fire.
Our boisterous excitement changed into visceral terror.
He jumped out at us, moaning. It didn’t help that he was wearing a sheik’s long white dishdash and matching head dress that he had picked up during his travels. It was covered in
ketchup blood…and he was wielding another frying pan.
The thing about my father was you knew on a cellular level that if he caught you, he was going to fry you up and eat you – there was no question. We screamed and ran out in our PJs and bare feet – one or two kids may have even wet their pants, and I may or may not have been one of them.
Even though it was dark out and close to midnight, and even though we knew that the Zodiac killer was probably out there hiding in the bushes, and we were scared to death of the dark, we were more scared of my father in that Arabian dishdash than we were of the Zodiac killer hiding in the bushes. So we took off running out the front door like a herd of fucked-up antelope. We loped into the forest, down the driveway, into the neighbor’s yards – scattering in all directions, scream-sobbing.
“The idea is unlikely to be popular with sufferers of coulrophobia – the irrational (irrational?) fear of clowns.”
He caught me before I could get out – I was hiding behind the bar. He grabbed my ankle and pulled me toward him, saying that he was going to start by eating my pinky toe, and I became hysterical. “Nooooo! Don’t eat me!” – and he stopped and whispered, “Kiddo, it’s me – your old dad. Do you really think I would eat you?” He looked surprised.
I took advantage of his confusion to run for my life, screaming, “HE’S GOING TO EAT ME! HE’S GOING TO EAT ME!” I ran out the door and down the driveway all the way to Gerstle park. That’s how scared I was.
The chase went on for probably an hour. Then he quietly reappeared beside the fireplace, minus his bloody dishdash, and word spread through the forest, the neighborhood, the park, and underneath the house that it was safe to come out. We came back and roasted marshmallows, guffawing with exaggerated relief that we had survived – and wondering who that crazy sheik was.
In today’s world, a drunk man who chases a herd of pajama-clad tweens through the neighborhood at midnight would probably be reported and arrested, but this was the 70′s and things were different back then. None of the neighbors called the cops, probably because they didn’t want anything to do with our Addam’s family. So after that first “successful” party, my sister’s slumber parties became the hot invitation at school. Everybody wanted to come have the bejesus scared out of them, so go figure.
Linking up with Yeah Write.
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