Halloween special I: 3 things I find scarier than ghosts

1. Screaming kids at the coffee-shop: Ghosts tend to be pretty silent. Screaming kids, very evidently, are anything but. And they tend to haunt my favourite cafes with more enthusiasm than any tortured soul could possibly haunt my bedroom. I usually view coffee-shops as potential sanctuaries where I can spend a peaceful half hour just sipping cappuccino and reading.

Parents, on the other hand, view them as places where they can spend a peaceful half hour just sipping cappuccino and chatting while their kids annoy some other poor bastard. Preferably on the other side of the room. And I can’t say I blame them – if I had kids I’d probably try to foist them on someone else too. But as it is, I don’t particularly appreciate the tactic. So yes, if I look into a cafe and find a calm looking parent having coffee while the kid raises hell I get more scared than if I had to look in and find a screaming banshee. Oh wait; same difference.

2.  Leaving the TV on standby at night: This is the only entry with some sort of supernatural connection. Sometimes (many times) I fall asleep while watching TV and I don’t bother actually switching it off. The set is programmed to go on standby after a certain hour: this is because it’s extremely intelligent and knows that if it’s past midnight I’m likely to have snoozed off. Problem is that when I get up in the middle of the night to a monitor that is not *quite* dead but is giving off weirdly pixellated static… I get more than a little bit freaked out. Remember Poltergeist anyone?

The situation usually results in a soul-stripping debate: do I get up to switch it off, thus risking being sucked into some horrible otherworldly universe? Or do I pretend it’s not there and try to fall back to sleep, all the time keeping one eye out for possible poltergeist activity? Hey, I never claimed I’m totally sane, did I?

3. Getting stuck in an elevator with a stranger: Few things are freaky as this one. Forget all about the obvious fear of small places, it’s more the “social” aspect that worries me. Picture the scene: elevator grinds to a halt. Panicky looks are exchanged between yourself and Stranger and the alarm button is hit. Repeatedly. Now it’s just a question of waiting it out.

You give Stranger a couple of surreptitious looks from under your eyelashes. You catch Stranger doing exactly the same thing. You both look away in embarrassment. After a couple of seconds, one of you decides to break the uncomfortable silence.

“Hope they don’t take too long to get us out of here.”

If you’re the one who broke the silence, you’re probably cursing yourself for uttering what has to be the king of inanities. If Stranger broke it, you’re probably thinking that of all idiotic things to say did he have to pick the most obvious one?

Five minutes go by. You and Stranger have exhausted the following topics: the weather, work, government-bashing. You rack your brains for something new to say when suddenly you notice Stranger has a patch of dark sweat under his arms. You’re so grossed out that the doughnut you quaffed earlier almost makes an uninvited reappearance. What stops it is the sudden realisation that you have a very similar patch of sweat under YOUR arm too.

Yes, some things are scarier than Casper could ever be. Happy Halloween weekend :)



  1. tita buds says:

    Not having seen Poltergeist, I would definitely prefer the static to the news programs that the Mr. falls asleep to. As All Souls Day approaches, news features are almost all about death, cemeteries, funeral parlors, cremation, embalming (!!!), tombs and, of course, ghosts & monsters. They replay it at 11:30 pm, too, making me dread midnight bathroom breaks, haha.

  2. KatZ says:

    Haha! I totally agree on nr1. But not only coffee-shops, the Christmas shopping period is starting to kick in here… and the crazy parents take their mental offsprings in masses to the streets. I strongly believe it is for the sole purpose to scare the shit out of everyone and destroy any holiday. They are also in the restaurants. I have a colleague at work who has 3-year old tween boys (who are the subjects of a parenting concept called “free development”, i.e. these monsters never heard the word “NO” so they do what they want). This family went out to a restaurant and their monsters started running around and hitting, kicking people, throwing food at them, etc. So naturally the family was asked to remove the children from the restaurant. And this woman was nagging about how discriminating that was. Well, no she hates me, because I told her that if I go to a restaurant and spend 200€ (300$), that how much it cost here for 2 people, I pretty much count on the absence of any annoying moment that can spoil the experience for me, and that INCLUDES her children… She told me that if I ever have children, I’ll change my opinion. Only time will tell…

    I am not afraid of TV in any of it’s state or form, but static electricity it can generate in stand-by, hit our cat with glorious power right in the nose once.. so we turn the TV off completely…

    The elevators… I think no one will voluntarily want to get stuck in one of them…

    • Ha!! I so feel you re parents who don’t bother educating their kids. If I spend good money I don’t want to have my evening ruined by unruly children. Some children are as good as gold and you don’t even notice they’re there…I guess it all depends on the parents. Sadly, a restaurant/cafe owner here would never dream of pointing out that noisy kids are being a nuisance. More often than not it’s me who ends up leaving in disgust because the owners/waiters are too busy telling parents how cute their kids are!