A Horror Newbie Faces His Fears At Knott’s Scary Farm


I’m going to level with you, I’m what you would call a scaredy-cat. That’s not to say that horror stuff always scares me. Very often I find myself pleasantly surprised that a horror movie is more stupid than it is scary. I also know monsters aren’t real, I’m not high on the list to be abducted aliens, and the ghosts moaning in the downstairs bathroom are actually just my long-dead grandma complaining about her bunions.

I get all that stuff. What I don’t like, is to be startled.

Urban Dictionary defines — yes, I’m using Urban Dictionary in an article, it’s the future baby! — a ‘scaredy-cat’ as “someone who shies away from facing their fears.” Definitely me. My mother has a large scar from being bitten by a dog and my brother has narrowly avoided being chomped at the neck by a pit bull. Figuring I’d be next, young Dane was deathly afraid of dogs for 15 years.

I love dogs now — thanks to a friend with a chihuahua — but the feelings of suspense and being startled? Those aren’t good feelings. The adrenaline from a roller coaster? Perfectly acceptable. The adrenaline from someone popping out of the bushes or some shit? No! Never. DON’T POP OUT OF A BUSH! This is how people get punched in the face.

Now slow down. Am I saying that if you ever pop out of the bushes and scare me I will punch you in the face? Yes. That is what I’m saying. Right square in the kisser. I’m not a violent person (and definitely can’t afford a lawsuit) but at that point, it’s just reflexes. I can’t control what my arms will do when my body senses danger. So when my ever-so-lovely girlfriend asked if I wanted to accompany her and her family to Knott’s Scary Farm my mouth stupidly said “yes” against the better judgment of my brain.

As that simple one-syllable affirmative left my lips, my eyes widened and alarm bells went off in my brain. I’ve been coasting through my twenties confident that I would never have to face a horror night of any kind. I am an adult with adult responsibilities, so either something will “come up” or I can just say “I’m too old for that shit.” (Meanwhile, every Halloween I avoid horror movies by looking up their Rotten Tomatoes score and pretending to be a film-buff.)

In the days between my stupid agreement and having to face my fears in front of my girlfriend and her cousins and brothers, my anxiety grew. I asked friends who had been to the famed attraction what I should expect. I looked up rules to see what monsters can and can’t do. I scanned through pictures of what the grounds typically look like. Nothing helped.