“Horror is the removal of masks.” –Robert Bloch

For some it’s heights, for others public speaking, and yet some simply fear the darkness. Arachnophobia (fear of spiders), claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces) and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) are just a few common fears.

Since it’s Halloween, I decided to share one of my most frightening moments. It occurred just seconds before this photo was taken and is the root of my maskophobia (fear of masks.)

By the hair, shoulder pads and tube socks worn scrunched down with Keds, you can probably tell it was late 80’s/early 90’s (Scared already?!) and the setting is one that still sends ripples of fear tingling up my spine: The Renaissance Festival.

They call it a “festival” but it is really a spread out freak show.–I know because I also worked there one summer as a “bar wench” serving up ales and speaking in “hazzaahs” to all who purchased. I got to know several of the “players.” For those who regularly work these “festivals,” it’s a way of life for them. After the “shows” of the day, they sleep in tents and trailers and move from town to town. They travel like a band of “gypsies” and live along the seams until the next festival where they don their garb and perform for the rest of the world willing to drop their $40 to watch, witness, and chomp down a turkey leg.

This particular festival, my BFF Colleen and I attended. These two masked “things” pursued us the entire day. They watched on as we shared a funnel cake. They stalked us as we checked out the overpriced dragon statues and Renaissance costumes. They followed us right up to the highlight of the day—The Puke and Snot Show—(still one of my favorites—if I could ever bring myself to attend one of these festivals again—they are a “must see!”) Anyhow, I was already not fond of those who wear masks (just ask Greg Chance about that Halloween costume that scared the pee out of me three years ago at Kelly & Sean’s annual Halloween Party!)and this wasn’t helping.

I digress.

We successfully avoided these maniacal pursuers until the P&S show. Yet, there they stood, awaiting our departure, and then resumed hunting us as we made our way out of the show. So, in an attempt to shake these two, we decided to have someone photograph us with them—(Genius, right?) Our thinking was they would be pacified and leave us alone. (And at least there would be witnesses and a photo of our last moment!)

Que up the music from the Halloween movies…dim the lights…

As we approached them for the photo, (no words were spoken between them and us,) they surrounded us with these crazy, big wide arms and wrapped us in them. Just prior to the photo, I decided to look my captor head on and “face this fear.” I figured there had to be a way for the person in there to see out. So, I scanned the costume for the opening. There was a dark metal mesh face plate and, heart beating wildly out of my chest, I looked into the darkness…I swear to you this “thing” behind the costume was scarier than the crazed clown mask it wore!—He/she/it had steely eyes and it opened its mouth just as I peered in, revealing to me a mouth full of fangs!

Yes, the photo looks like I am laughing, but who hasn’t tried masking their fear?!

I was scared out of my KEDS!

To this day, I awake from nightmares of this in a cold sweat, I see those fangs, I relive that fearful moment.

After the photo, I headed straight to the “out house” area (which seemed a lot less scarier now 😉 and didn’t come out until those creepy things weren’t looking. With eyes wide like saucers and trembling hands, I told my “bestie” what I saw. We bee-lined for the exits. (That’s what good friends do—They don’t ask questions and will RUN WITH YOU from whatever freaks you out!)

So, don’t be offended if I won’t accompany you to a Renaissance festival and please understand why I avoid Halloween masks—you never know what’s hidden underneath.

Happy Halloween.