Halloween is coming, and I'm not looking forward to it. It's the second biggest holiday, bumping up against Christmas for the "Most Obnoxious" awards.
It's also the time of year when costume stores stock unveil their two most popular costume styles: Zombie and Slutty.
No longer satisfied with someone just being a nurse, a firefighter, or a circus ringmaster, they offer instead Slutty Nurse, Zombie Firefighter, or Slutty Zombie Ringmaster.
Haunted houses are over the top as well. When I was a kid, haunted houses were usually just mazes made in our grade school gym, where teachers dressed like the Wicked Witch of the West and the Werewolf to jump out to scare us.
Now, haunted houses have monsters with such disgusting special effects that even the Walking Dead makeup artists are grossed out.
It's not just enough to have a werewolf with a leg bone clutched in its hairy paw. Or a zombie with gray skin and wild hair. Now, we've got demon-possessed killer pirate zombies with eyes hanging out of their sockets, skipping rope with their previous victim's small intestine.
I miss Halloweens of my youth, when our biggest frights were urban legends of pins in candy and razor blades in apples (neither of which ever actually happened). Now, we're being invaded by the monsters Wes Cravens would spawn if he were the queen of a monster bee hive.
And that's still not enough. This year, we're facing new monsters. Reports are coming in from all over the country of scary clowns, like Pennywise from Stephen King's horror novel, "It." Most of them are seen around wooded areas, often trying to entice children to come into the woods.
It's also against the law in Florida to wear a mask and intimidate someone, so there's a good chance the clowns will have to pay a hefty fine, right after they've been arrested for being serial murderers.
Plus, Florida has the stand your ground law, which someone's going to remember the next time they spot one of these creatures.
Other states may not have a stand your ground law, but that's not stopping people from taking matters into their own hands. One North Carolina clown decided retreat was the better part of valor, after he was chased into the woods by a bystander with a machete.
And if the bystander was Danny Trejo of the movie, "Machete," I'm guessing he didn't get very far. Most of him, anyway.
Another scary clown in Kentucky was arrested for wearing a mask in public and disorderly conduct. And seven clowns have been arrested in Alabama, two adults and five juveniles. They face felony charges of making a terrorist threat.
There was even recently a sighting of two clowns together in Brevard County, Florida. Kelly Reynolds of Palm City told MyNews 13 that her dog ". . . stopped and started growling. They were standing right back there" — she pointed at a nearby fence — "two of them, staring at me."
The fact that two of them have been sighted together means they're beginning to gather in packs, or what experts call a "horror" of clowns. It's only a matter of time before they're brave enough to try to bring down a summer camp or school field trip.
"They are deranged," said Reynolds.
She may have said it, but we were all thinking it. A 2008 study at the University of Sheffield in England found that most children didn't actually like clowns. Dr. Penny Curtis told the BBC back in 2008, "We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable."
This was Stephen King's thinking back in 1986 when he wrote "It." And now look at what he's unleashed.
Meanwhile, professional clowns who like to ruin children's birthday parties are already upset with the scary clowns. They say they're giving regular clowns a bad name.
Randy Christensen told ABC News, "People dressed as horror clowns are not 'real' clowns. They are taking something innocent and wholesome and perverting it to create fear in their audience." He's the president-elect of the World Clown Association (official motto: "Giving you nightmares for the next 60 years").
Another professional clown said he didn't appreciate what these clowns are doing, because he has worked hard to be the kind of clown that children can "respect and look up to." I think not being a professional clown would be a start.
Given the time of year, we're going to see more and more of these scary clowns, skulking around wooded areas, trying to frighten people, and giving normal clowns a bad name. I've even been seeing this orange, pumpkin-headed clown on TV for the last several months.
That one scares me most of all.
Photo credit: Graeme McClean (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)
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