This is one of those ‘sneak up on you’ NOs, the kind that you insist is actually a YES, right up to the moment that you find yourself in foetal position, wrenching off what used to be your favourite pair of underpants, and vomming into a bile-soaked gutter.
Houses of horrors are deceptive. At first they seem innocuous and tacky and something you can ironically enjoy. “That vampire bride is wearing Crocs! Hah hah!” you openly mock, while also noting that the sign by the door, the one next to the ‘NO REFUNDS’ written in faux-blood, lets you know that this ride is suitable for children over the age of 10, but “as parents, you know your kid better than anyone else”, so you’d best determine for yourself whether this ride is going to make them shit themselves in the middle of the Royal Easter Show.
Well, I’m 26 now and that sign is WAY off. Either I’m not made of very stern stuff (which, let’s face it, is pretty likely) or these guys need to take a good hard look at the Australian National Trauma Guidelines and re-evaluate their shtick.
I will not soon forget this House o’Horrors, in the same way that the arm bruises it gave me will not fade. The whole thing was thematically based on the idea of old Hollywood horror films, the sorts of films that are all just concepts and not REAL in my head, cos the only sorts of movies I tend to watch are teeny rom coms and maybe the odd impressive indie film about people-smuggling or whatevs. So we line up to go to the house; it’s me and an anonymous friend that for the purposes of this story I will call…Nikita…and we’re scoffing and LOLing our way through the line, and the guy at the front with maybe fake acne scabs but maybe not fake acne scabs is like “Aaaaare you scaaaared?” and we LAUGH in his FACE and just kinda go “HUH” and he gives a little wry grin that we don’t read into just now, but we will later.
And then it’s ON. And here is what I’m really interested in talking about. The way that irony and detachment are pretty groovy and fashionable all the time from the vantage of your free trade cafe or vintage dog-wear boutique, until you find yourself in the GRIP of something BIGGER THAN YOU. When you are running, and screaming, and hiding, and wading through bodies, and little corpse brides are whispering in your ear, and two SEPARATE guys with chainsaws chase you, and there are strobe lights, and Nikita digs her nails into your arm until you have to yell “NIKITA STOP – I KNOW YOU’RE SCARED BUT YOU’RE HURTING ME” and then Nikita uses you as a human shield against the second chainsaw guy, and then you heave and scream your way back into the free air and you guys are so exhilarated and overwhelmed and FREAKING OUT that you bump heads against each other, and it’s lucky you both wear nerdy playwright glasses, or you’d be the one hurling in the gutter.
SO I guess what I’m saying is that, Houses of Horror teach me important lessons about the power of adrenaline, and about the unhelpfulness of detachment, and about how good Nikita is in an emergency vs how good Jess is in an emergency. Whilst I value all of those lessons, I’m also quite happy to never repeat them again. Ever again.
We did eat cheese on a stick beforehand, though, which for the record – is a YES.