Without question, Halloween and the days the precede it are my least favorite of the year. In fact, I absolutely abhor them and go out of my way to not go anywhere or do anything outside — particularly on the last two days of October. The closest I’ve come to celebrating Halloween was two college parties, both of which I left early, and one office party which was just an excuse to start drinking early at my desk dressed as a character from a show I never watched. When I shared my disdain for Halloween with a colleague they asked me if it was a result of my religion, I lied and gave a non-committal answer of just “not being into it.” This year, the truth shall set me free: I have an extreme, irrational fear of the mask from Scream.
Technically speaking, I am an adult. My adult logic thoroughly understands that the Scream mask is just pieces of plastic and fabric glued together that have no power over me. But, in the 20 years since I’ve been introduced to that mask, the fear has not diminished. Year after year on Halloween when people revisit the iconic film and killer, I shrivel into a ball of misery and wait for the sweet release of November.
It’s worth noting that that the film itself isn’t something that I remember vividly (nor do I feel this way about any other masks meant to elicit fear in small children). I saw Scream once, around 8 or 9 years old, while my cousins were babysitting and, other than the mask, I couldn’t tell you what happens or why the killer was killing. That mask is just fucking terrifying. For years, I’ve imagined the black fabric pools where eyes should are really just hell portals or worse, tiny time machines that will transport me back to my adolescence if I stare into them for too long.
While I never attempted to watch the movie again, the mask has stayed with me for years. One of my cousins had the mask tucked away under his bed and I refused to go into his room knowing it was there. That didn’t matter much because his sister would simply put the mask on when I wasn’t looking and follow me around while I shrieked. I was the youngest of my family’s brood so the adults in the room coddled me and let me have this little quirk, assuming I’d grow out of it and just asked my cousins to stop scaring me. Clearly, they were wrong. Is it my family’s fault that I carry the fear of a mask into adulthood? Maybe! Is this irrational fear really just an exterior layer of a deeper trauma that took place around the same time I was introduced to the mask? Highly likely!
I would love to end this with a fulfilling story about how I confronted my fear, discovered the root of it, and eventually overcame it thus becoming a woman who fears nothing. This is not that. I am viscerally, uncomfortably, and, at times, apologetically scared of a fucking mask.
I accept that there is simply no answer to undoing this fear. I am living in both my fear and my truth. I wish the same for all of you, beloveds. Unless you’re one of those people that dresses up in the aforementioned mask, then please proceed to fuck off stage left.