Haunted Houses for Dads

You stroll into the first haunted house and walk through room after room after room. All the lights and TVs are on, yet there are no people. You scream silently as insanity overtakes you.

You enter what appears to be your child’s bedroom. Oh yes, there he is. He is asleep in his red race car bed. Wait, now he’s up. He has something very important to tell you about Minecraft. He keeps waking up every five minutes for the rest of eternity to tell you about creepers. Also, the room is filled with zombie snakes. They slither all over you as your child continues to regale you with stories about computer sheep. He is completely oblivious as you slip into a zombie-snake bite induced coma. “Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad! Are you even listening?” You are not listening. You are a zombie snake now.

You walk into what appears to be a grocery store. Your kids are with you and everyone keeps commenting on how full your hands are. You don’t pay any attention to them at first, because it’s what people always say. Then you finally look down and, yes, your hands are indeed full…of maggots.

You enter the haunted house and it is your living room. Except, wait, this can’t be. There is grass up to your knees. And not nice Bermuda grass, a mixture of wild grasses—dandelions, crab grass, and, oh no, St. Augustine grass?!? How is this possible? You raise your hands to your face in despair. Ouch! Your hands have been replaced by weed whackers. You notice they are lithium battery powered. That explains the grass. And why your face isn’t bleeding. Those pieces of crap can’t cut a damn thing.

This haunted house is filled with socks. I can handle this, you think, I love socks! You sift through the piles and a vague feeling of dread envelops you as you realize there are no white crew socks anywhere. Only ankle socks and no-shows. All garishly colored. You look down at your feet and your white crew socks are gone. Replaced with ridiculous-looking, no-show socks that are…blue? What the hell? You grab a hideous sock from the pile that is threatening to engulf you and stuff it in your mouth to quell the screaming.

Every door in this haunted house is squeaky. It’s annoying, but you know exactly what to do. Luckily, there are hundreds of cans of WD-40 sitting around. You grab a can. It is empty. You grab more. They are all empty. You won’t stop trying until you find one that works. You grow old there, sifting through empty WD-40 cans. Eventually, you die, and the haunted house attendants bury you under a giant pile of WD-40 cans. It’s what you would’ve wanted.

You walk into a re-creation of the set of the TV show Home Improvement. It’s the set of the fake TV show within the real TV show. Was it Tool Time? Oh yes, it says Tool Time everywhere, so that must be it. This is all very meta, you think. The set is empty except for the show’s sidekick, Al. He asks you to sit down at the work bench. It is very sturdy. He explains that he is your neighbor and the other neighbors have been complaining to him about your parenting. They have told him that your kids like to dig holes in the backyard and yell a lot. And that you like to count to five to get them to stop, but it never works. You sit sullenly at the immaculate bench. Al is right. Al is always right.

You enter the haunted house to find that it is your teenage daughter’s bedroom. Your daughter is dating Steve from Stranger Things, but the jerky Season 1 version before he turned into your favorite character. They are making out on the bed. The image of his perfectly coiffed hair is burned into your retinas. All you can see is luxurious hair. You run from the house screaming. The hair follows you. It wraps around your torso, crushing your ribs. I knew I should’ve brought my Swiss Army knife, you think.

You’re at Library Storytime in this next haunted house. Your preschooler is with you. You’re the only dad in the room full of moms and kids. They pause the story to go around the room, so each mom can ask if it is daddy day care day. You smile sheepishly. Then a sheep puppet grabs you by the throat and begins to strangle you slowly, but efficiently.

You walk inside and all the doors in the haunted house leading to the outside are open. You try to shut them, but they won’t budge. You find a tool-set and start trying to fix the doors, but your kids show up and insist on “helping.” Meanwhile, the air conditioning is blasting at sixty degrees and it’s ninety-five degrees outside. You slowly lose your mind.

Each room of this house features a youth sports game or competition—soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis—none of them are keeping score. You try to keep score in your head, but it is too much. You perish beneath the weight of uncounted goals, runs, and points.

You enter this last haunted house and step inside a carnival. Fun! There doesn’t seem to be anything scary here…wait. Suddenly your children descend upon you carrying things. Lots of things. Toys, stuffed animals, water bottles, sippy cups. No problem. You have plenty of room for everything in the pockets of your cargo shorts. You look down. Oh no. This is the day you finally gave in to society’s and your wife’s insistence that cargo shorts were “uncool” and all those pockets were “unnecessary.” Before you know it, you’re suffocating beneath a pile of sippy cups. No one will help you, but one person does say, “Your shorts are very stylish.”