My favorite holiday.
As I sit here, sipping my pumpkin spice coffee and looking out at what we Floridians consider Fall, I am reminded that one of my all time favorite holidays is swiftly approaching – Halloween. Ever since I was a little kid, the very idea of this holiday has made my pulse jump. Think about it. This is a holiday dedicated to dressing up like your favorite spooky characters and eating as much candy as you want – and it is all endorsed by your parents. Despite historical evidence to the contrary, I truly believe that some child hoodwinked his parents into this and the idea spread like wildfire.
Addicted to being scared.
I have always loved the sheer spookiness of this holiday, which makes sense as I was also addicted to Fantasy Island, Frankenstein, and Dracula movies. I would sneak out of bed to watch Fantasy Island and then would be up all night jumping at shadows. The episode with the ventriloquist had me hiding all of my dolls in the closet.
On the weekends, my sisters, cousins and I would all pile into my aunt’s television room and watch Frankenstein and Dracula movies, while the adults sat drinking their coffee and wine on the other end of the apartment. Then when we were good and scared, we would hold seances and pretend to bring back the long lost spirit of some neighbors dead dog.
For the love of the strange.
As I grew older, my fascination with the odd led me to date men with the love of the strange. I have dated hypnotists, magicians, tarot card readers and oddest of all – actors. One in particular, a magician from Austin, Texas and I ended up having a Halloween tradition. Even though we are no longer dating, each year he either flies out here for Halloween Horror nights or I fly to him and we do something spooky in his neck of the woods.
Brad, actually creates events like Halloween Horror nights for corporate clients so when he goes to see a haunted house, he does it to scope out their illusions. I go to see if they can scare me and to watch grown men scream like little girls.
Nine times out of ten, we end up here in Orlando, going to the haunted houses at Universal and having creatures of the night jump out at us from the shadows. One year though we decided that I would fly to Austin and actually stay in a haunted house. Ok, it was really a haunted hotel, but you get the gist of the experience we were going for.
The name of the hotel is the Driskill.
It is listed as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. Some people claim to see a little girl bouncing a ball, others a jilted bride and some the former owner smoking his cigar. The little girl is supposed to the spirit of a little girl who was killed while chasing her ball down a flight of stairs. And the jilted bride supposedly committed suicide after going on an extremely expensive shopping spree using her ex-fiance’s money.
I was so excited. I read up on the history of the hotel. I booked the room in advance. And Brad and I went straight from the airport, instead of doing are usual trek to the Salt Lick, my favorite barbecue restaurant out in the sticks.
As we approached the front desk, admiring the marble floors and domed ceiling, I felt my pulse race. Brad does not believe in ghosts so he humored me as I excitedly asked the staff if they had seen anything. Not a single one supposedly had heard of the rumors. Very disheartening. I mean you would think with Halloween around the corner, that they would have at least faked it.
We were led to our cute, old fashioned boutique style room, that reminded me of my grandmother, for some reason. To boost my courage we went to several of the bars on 6th street which is literally right outside the door of this hotel. The locals were dressed in their spookiest and sexiest costumes. I swear if I had dressed like some of these girls, my mother would have agreed with my dad and sent me to a convent. Everyone was having a great time. We drank blood colored drinks and listened to some really cool Indie music. before wandering back to the hotel.
And there I sat up all night, waiting to hear that bouncing ball or a child’s laughter. Sniffing for a hint of cigar smoke. And peeking into the hall occasionally to see if there was a blood stained bride wandering about. And what did I get for my troubles? Nothing, nada, zip.
Seriously, the seances with our neighbors dog was spookier.
Brad tried to soothe me by saying that if he was a ghost, he would probably be out on the town spying on the living freaks, but I was truly disappointed.
So we ended up going to one of the haunted houses that he designed. It was set in the Austin hill country and you literally had to go sliding and crawling through tunnels. There were hidden rooms filled with creepy dismembered bodies and creatures grabbing at you. It was in a word – awesome.
It was not what I had expected for this trip but sometimes you have to go with the flow and get your fright on where you can. I have not given up hope though. I hear the Winchester house in San Jose, California is truly haunted. Maybe I will drag Brad there next year.