I love fall. Fall in the country means locally grown pumpkins adorning my front porch. Fall means bonfires, hayrides and freshly baked pumpkin everything. The leaves are stunning. The air is crisp. Fall is charming. Well, charming except for one thing – a thing that I suspect is unique to rural areas, fly-over states, and low budget horror movies. The one uncharming thing about fall is corn mazes.
Corn mazes, or course, are very popular among tweens and teens. Parents on the other hand, loath and despise them. At least this parent does. There are seven reasons that a corn maze is a living nightmare.
You would rather do anything else. Literally anything. How about instead of the corn maze we go see a movie? Roller skating? Go Carts? Laser tag? A trip to the mall? A new puppy? A hundred bucks? Seriously, name your price.
Resistance is futile. In time you realize that, just like in the horror movies, there really is no way out of this. You relent. You are beaten. The dreaded corn maze awaits.
There is a long and arduous journey. If you have never experienced the ordeal of an hour’s drive to the middle of nowhere with a carload of tweens hyped up on the gleeful anticipation of being lost in the dark and chased by zombies, you are one lucky mother.
The terror begins. Finally you make it to the corn maze. Slowly, you creep through the darkness. There are people everywhere. Everywhere. But no one seems to know the way. A sea of souls, lost and confused, searching, praying, trying to find … a parking spot. If you had known this many people would pay good money to spend an hour lost in the dark, you would have plowed up your flower beds long ago and planted rows of corn in your backyard. The “parking lot,” by the way, is actually just an open hay field. Awesome.
You are in for way more than you bargained for. You agreed, albeit reluctantly, to bring your kids and a few of their friends to the corn maze. But you forgot about the haunted house, the bouncy house, the zip line, the spooky lawnmower ride (don’t ask), the candy apples and the kettle corn stand. Everywhere you look there is some sort of Halloween or fall-themed ride, attraction or junk food vendor. Basically, the corn maze complex is like the county fair from hell.
The maze. Eventually, you find yourself standing at the entrance to the corn maze with your kids and four of five… Wait. Was it four or five? Dang. It has already been such a long, long night. You should have done a head count before you got out of the car. Okay. Okay. They each brought two friends (what were you thinking!) That makes six. Six kids total. Now you’re ready to enter the corn maze. You hear screams of terror coming from within.You tell your kids to stick together. For a spooky effect you add, in a low, menacing tone, “If we all stay together, we might just get out alive.” Thirty steps into the maze and a hooded guy with a machete jumps out from a wall of corn. The kids scatter like marbles. And you are left to navigate the corn maze all alone. Great. You aren’t scared, but you are annoyed. You should have just waited this whole thing out at the kettle corn stand. You could be enjoying a nice hot styrofoam cup of apple flavored cider right now, but instead you are stumbling around in the dark resisting the temptation to punch all the chainsaw murders in the throat. Again, not scary, just super annoying. Dude, here’s a tip. You aren’t actually sneaking up on anyone. We can hear you coming. Hellooo? Chainsaw. Finally after more than an hour, you are hungry, frustrated and exhausted. Where the hell is the exit? In desperation, you grab the nearest zombie by his tattered hoodie and offer him $10 bucks to lead you to out. He pockets the cash so fast that you know you aren’t the first parent to find herself irretrievably lost in here. You begin to suspect this whole corn maze thing is one big racket run by high school juniors who have figured out that maybe you don’t need no education to make big bucks – at least not from late September to early November.
Escape! Finally! Finally! You are out. Oh blessed relief! Wide open spaces never looked so good. But wait! Where are the children? They weren’t carrying cash. They had no way of bribing a zombie, The poor things must be terrified. You picture them huddled together deep within the maze, wondering if they’ll ever get out alive. And that’s when you spot them – calm as can be, hanging out by the kettle corn stand.