Young adults of the corn
There are many situations for which I’m a go-to gal. I’ll bake you vegan cookies, work the merch table at your show, sew a button on your shirt, and buy Jimboy’s when you’re low on funds. If a maniac decides to chase us with a chainsaw, however, you’re on your own. Unless we get cornered, in which case I’ll use your body as a shield.
How do I know this about myself? Well, that was me in the Woodland Corn Maze on Friday night, deep inside the Field of Screams, shrieking and cowering behind my friend when a man in a mask brandished a buzzing chainsaw in our direction.
At least, I think he wore a mask. It was tough to tell with my eyes closed.
I never meant to be so chicken. As we drove down Main Street looking for the maze, which we finally found in a floodlit field on the edge of town, I repeatedly reminded myself that nothing in the Field of Screams would actually hurt me.
I sustained this brave attitude as we bought our tickets and queued up at the entrance to a cornstalk corridor marked by a wooden sign painted with a Scream mask. We listened to shrieking and the occasional whine of power tools interrupt the incessant whispering of the wind through the corn. I noticed that most of the people in line were half my age and, unlike me, they seemed completely unfazed by the prospect of a labyrinth of monsters. Obviously, they were too young to remember Children of the Corn.
A young woman in a black cape collected tickets and let us pass in small groups. We were paired with two teenaged girls, who joined me in quickly and unanimously voting my friend the leader of our expedition. I hid behind him. They hid behind me. We proceeded into the looming dark like a reluctant conga line.
Before we’d gotten far, a little girl slunk past us toward the entrance, clearly too frightened to continue. I wanted to join her, but I kept going as we approached a grim tableau. A coffin rested in the dirt, barely illuminated by a black light.
“Hey, come look at the grave,” my friend called as I broke ranks to sprint away.
“I don’t want to,” I said, positioning him back in front of me and pushing him forward.
Then something jumped out of the corn, howling like a madman. I screamed and closed my eyes, and I pretty much never opened them again. Not when the chainsaw swung toward us. Not when the mad doctor (or was he a butcher?) whirred his drill. Not when the cornstalks repeatedly burst apart to reveal monsters cloaked in the shadows of a Woodland night. I just strengthened my death grip on my friend’s hands and kept marching forward.
“Wow, my arms are really sore,” I said later, as the two of us sat on a hay bale outside the maze munching snack-bar cookies. I hadn’t realized how hard I’d been clinging.
“Your arms are sore?” He stared at me in disbelief. “I have marks!” he said, holding up his hands. His expression said he’d had better dates.
I was about to say something in my defense when a little girl burst out of the haunted maze exit beside us. “I made it through with only one scream!” she told her dad proudly. Show-off.
We finished our cookies and took a quiet stroll through the much larger, un-haunted part of the maze—which is shaped like the back of a California quarter, complete with John Muir and Half Dome. We’d neglected to bring the recommended flashlights, but there was just enough light to see. As I wandered through the towering stalks with only the stars to steer by, I began to feel better.
We all have our shortcomings, I reasoned. Some of us are bad with thank-you notes. Some of us forget birthdays. And some of us might sacrifice our friends to serial killers. Sue me—if you live.