There are some traditions from the old country I could do without, and then there's Halloween.
I love October 31.
I grew up trick-or-treating in neighbourhoods that bestowed a bounty of lollies: chocolate bars big and small, candy corn, boiled sweets, and anything else prone to cause tooth decay.
Some years, I collected so much loot I was gobbling candy until Christmas. It was unhealthy. And fun. My sister and I scampered from house to house, checking out the other costumed kids and whooping about the great stuff we just scored.
Before school Halloween parties, I tried to keep my costume a secret from my classmates.
One year, someone divulged I was going to be a fly. Encased in a fibreglass tube, I shuffled into class, plastic cups fastened around my head like multiple eyes. Giggling at their desks - my peers - wielding fly swatters. So much for surprise.
I devoured scary movies like popcorn: The Shining, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street ... Some scenes flickered between louvred fingers held before my face.
Adults have lists of real-life horrors. Beneath the scale of tragedies like death, pandemics, fires, floods and authoritarian rulers, everyday stuff makes me want to run and hide.
Wigs in the shower drain. I don't know who put the hairpiece down there, but it's not funny. Its horror movie equivalent is a 2017 film called Rings where the protagonist coughs up the world's biggest hairball.
My grocery bill with two teenagers. They require a constant supply of milk and cereal or their toes curl up like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.
The floor of my car. It's a crumb-coated grassland. At least I don't drive Stephen King's Christine, the red and white Plymouth Fury that terrorised anyone who got in its way.
Ants. They're building dirt mountains outside. When they're tired of their own condo, they parade inside my house like they own it. There's a 1977 movie called Empire of the Ants with Joan Collins where the narrator begins, "This is the ant. Treat it with respect, or it may very well be the next dominant life form of our planet." Does anyone doubt this could happen in 2020?
Tailgaters. Idiots. Be thankful if your worst problem is the two-month wait for the panel beater after getting rear-ended. Tailgaters are nearly as scary as the psychopathic big rig driver in the 2001 film Roadkill.
Bad drivers, full stop. People who don't indicate think we're clairvoyant. Some of us may see dead people, like the little boy in The Sixth Sense, but we can't predict your sudden right-hand turn.
Bad spelling and grammar. People who write "should of" or fail to distinguish between "it's" and "its" need English lessons. Snide Professor Snape from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry could help.
Google. I'm writing this in Google docs. I used Maps today, plus Gmail and YouTube. They know too much. For a non-slasher true tale of horror, watch The Social Dilemma, about the dangers of selling our souls to tech giants. More frightening than The Shining.
What's under the bed. Seeing Poltergeist at age 12 put me off checking for dust bunnies for decades. As if freaky clowns weren't enough, my sister put a ventriloquist doll next to me when I was sleeping about a week after we saw the movie. She's lucky we still talk.
House noises. The kids and I stayed in three different homes last year after we sold our house. Each place possessed a peculiar set of creaks and moans. I couldn't watch The Amityville Horror 40 years ago, and I'm not sure I can take The Conjuring now. Both involve families who sank their life savings into houses populated by the undead.
Sharks. The one creature in New Zealand (besides other people) known for deadly attacks on humans.
Sandflies and the Mount Mauler (which may be a biting midge). These are some scary-as micro-bugs that feast on flesh and ruin what was a lovely day at the beach. Try to forget the pain and itchiness by watching the 2014 Kiwi classic, What We Do in the Shadows. Its vampires discuss spooky phenomena like:
A messy house. As Viago said, "If you're going to eat a victim on my nice clean couch put down some newspapers on the floor! And some towels. It's not hard to do."
I shall remind the teens. If vampires can be tidy, teenagers can unpack the dishwasher and wipe fake blood from the bathroom basin.
Tonight, our family will dress up, apply face paint and party with like-minded gals and ghouls. With each layer of makeup and accessories, I'll press pause on adulting and slip back into childhood. No politics. No pandemic. Just a temporary bubble where being scared is fun.