A Night of Terror for Halloween-O-Phobes
A Night of Terror for Halloween-O-Phobes
On this special holiday, humorist Brian Unger goes undercover to reveal the secret life of Halloween-a-phobes — people with a crippling, often incurable fear of trick-or-treaters who on this night are virtual prisoners in their own homes.
NOAH ADAMS, host:
In the Unger Report today, Halloweenophobia. It's a crippling, often incurable fear of trick-or-treaters. And for this story, the Halloweenophobics interviewed asked to remain anonymous for fear of having their houses toilet-papered tonight. Here is Brian Unger.
BRIAN UNGER reporting:
Halloweenophobes I spoke to manage their conditions on beggars' night by playing possum. When the doorbell rings, it's...
Unidentified Woman #1: How can I fake that I'm not here? How can I turn the TV off really fast, turn the lights off really fast and get out of the room so that those little rug rats don't know I'm in here?
UNGER: Halloweenophobes usually suffer alone, in silence, prisoners in their own homes.
Unidentified Man #1: I am there usually in the dark, usually with the television on mute, usually crouched and checking on the bowl of candy that I have in front of the house so hopefully the young ones will do the mathematical equation in their head, `Oh, a crazy shut-in, but he's left us candy. So we won't throw a rock through his window.'
UNGER: Racked with paranoia, Halloweenophobes, in houses and apartments, will tonight face their ultimate fear.
Unidentified Man #2: There are kids in my building--and I've done the smart thing, is I've never made eye contact with any of them. So they don't know who I am. They're not going to come to my door 'cause if they see me, they'll go, `Oh, that's the guy to stay away from.'
UNGER: Typically, a panic response is triggered by a doorbell.
(Soundbite of doorbell)
Unidentified Man #2: You know, I don't think there's any worse sound to a human than the sound of a doorbell. It means intrusion. It means change of plans. And on Halloween, it's just this dingdong, dingdong, dingdong "Tell-Tale Heart" thing that I really can't stand.
UNGER: For others, beggars' night is more than annoyance for out of the darkness comes a horror dressed as a little Spider-Man.
Unidentified Woman #2: If they ring the doorbell, something horrible happens.
UNGER: What happens?
Unidentified Woman #2: I have dogs and they make noise when doorbells ring.
UNGER: This Halloweenophobe allowed me into her private hell. As the sun set, she showed me the path terror will take when it visits her tonight.
The little trick-or-treaters would presumably approach the door here...
Unidentified Woman #2: Right.
UNGER: ...and then do what?
Unidentified Woman #2: Ring the doorbell, which is when all hell breaks loose. Should I unleash the hounds?
(Soundbite of dogs barking)
Unidentified Woman #2: And your ears are bleeding on Halloween.
UNGER: As daylight dwindled and the sound of Chihuahuas pierced an eery calm, I wondered what made Halloweenophobes tick.
Unidentified Man #1: I'll be honest. It's selfishness, 'cause my wife buys candy. There's candy in the house. It just doesn't quite make it near the door on the night of the 31st for the kids.
UNGER: But what would Freud ask?
Do you like kids?
Unidentified Man #1: They're small people, and they're adorable. I just don't like any sort of contact on that level where some sort of exchange has to occur when I'm home. I just don't like it.
UNGER: This reporter found little hope in Halloweenophobes' ability to help themselves.
Unidentified Woman #1: If you go to the store and you buy candy for trick-or-treaters, it is guaranteed no trick-or-treaters will show up at your house and you will then be living in a candy prison, shoving baby Three Musketeers bars in your face until Christmas.
UNGER: Cynically, one Halloweenophobe offered this advice; not to fellow sufferers, but to the children.
Unidentified Man #3: The best day really is November 1st because then the candy's all on sale and then you can have all the candy you want.
UNGER: And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger. Happy Halloween.
ADAMS: And if you've just got to hear those dogs again, the Unger Report is now available each week as a podcast. Find out more at npr.org. And you'll also find holiday-themed recipes there and a sampling of truly annoying Halloween music.
(Soundbite of music)
ADAMS: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News with contributions from slate.com. I'm Noah Adams.
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