Fear Loving On Halloween: Why Do We Like to be Scared?

I could never understand how Christmas could be someone’s favorite holiday. The presents and the goodwill toward man are great, but Halloween is really the day to celebrate. The leaves are changing, the nights get long and cool and the Sci-Fi Channel airs horror movie marathons. Naturally, that means one can usually find me glued to the TV set at all hours of the day, drowning my real life concerns with an unhealthy dose of haunted houses, supernatural monsters and shotgun-toting heroes.
But as much as I love a good ghost story, I have always paid dearly for my affinity for the macabre. As a victim of the heavy burdens of high school academia, I was usually the last one in my household to go to bed at night. This meant that I was all alone in a big, dark house on a nightly basis, peering outside into the eerily still darkness and watching the weird shadows cast by my desktop lamp dance along the far wall. Of course, that is exactly when I would always recall the image of the pale, solemn-faced specter that had plagued the hero in some film or other. Consequently, my entire body would tense up with fear at even the slightest sound from somewhere behind me. The moment I was done, I would dart off to bed, avoiding all mirrors along the way and sincerely believing that some nameless creature was waiting for me just outside the bedroom door. Really, it never ceases to amaze me how you can always forget about a scary movie for the entire day, then remember it five minutes before bedtime. I basically gave myself a heart attack on a weekly basis.
So why do I do it? Am I a freakish masochist who likes to torture himself with baseless fears of things that go bump in the night? It would be more accurate to say that I’m shortsighted. The majority of the time, even as I’m watching a movie, I’m fully aware that it will come back to haunt me later. I consider changing the channel, but then the concept of instant gratification takes over