Friday, April 29, 2011

Horror Stories: Not Suitable for School

(Author's Note: The content of this article is completely suitable for schools, workplaces, libraries, Starbucks, and home. The title is just representative and ironic.)

So, thus far in my career at the Haunted Drive-In, I've talked a lot about entertaining things. Mostly, my posts have been about stuff I've observed in the entertainment world. That's all well and good, but what does that tell you about me? You know I like horror-comedies, I grew up with Meanies, I've played Portal 2... That's about it. Whereas with Rabbi, he's talked more about his experiences with things related to horror, horror-comedy, or just movie-going in general. That's why today, I've decided to relay a little tale about an experience I once had. What ties it to the Drive-In exactly? Well, it involves a story I once wrote... A horror story.

Spooky, yes?

When I was a Junior in high school (about 4 years ago, if you really wanna know), my English teacher gave us a fun assignment for October: write a scary story. On the class that fell closest to Halloween, we'd tell our stories and eat candy. I was ecstatic. As you can imagine, I love creative writing. Writing stories are my bread and butter. So, I went to work. Around this time, I was going through a phase where I was fascinated with serial killers. Actually, I'm still going through that phase; they're just such fascinating psychopaths. Anyway, I wrote a story called “The Barber.” It was a two page yarn about a killer stalking his next victim, and reminiscing about his first . He murdered people by stabbing them with scissors, then cut their hair off. Two things should be noted. 1) I'm a big fan of James Patterson, so I got this “Serial Killer's Perspective” idea from one of his books. 2) I'm pretty sure this was the year Sweeney Todd came out on the big screen. Ergo, “The Barber.”

Anyway, the story was freaky, disturbing, and, yes, slightly bloody. But when I asked the teacher, she said it was fine. I told my story on that class day, and the entire class agreed mine was the freakiest. I was proud. Flash forward a few months. My high school did a “magazine” every year where they feature fictional stories, poems, and drawings from students. Now, I get a bright idea: submit my scary story. Brilliant move, that. Submitting a story about a serial killer to a literary magazine... of a Catholic school. You see the sheer genius, I'm sure. So, not realizing my error, I'm stunned when I'm called down to the principal's office a few days later during class. I was petrified and confused, not knowing what I had done. When I got to the office, I found the principal with the guidance counselor. As soon as I sat down, the principal handed two pages of paper to the school counselor. He asked her a question I no longer remember, and she read. I sat there, embarrassed. When she finished, the counselor said something about it being violent and that it would be viewed as vulgar to the parents who read it. The principal said “So, you see, Richard, why we can't put this in the magazine.” I said of course, I understood. I would write a different, non-horrific story for the magazine.

Now, a kid writing about serial killers in a Catholic high school wasn't going to just be forgotten. When I thought the talk was over, the principal suggests to me about seeing the counselor about my “violent stories.” I had to talk my way out of this quick, or be branded a kook for the rest of my educational career. So, I explain about the assignment, about the types of books I usually read, and the principal totally understood. I was deemed not crazy and sent on my merry way.

That incident has stuck with me, though. I've got mixed feelings about the whole thing. Yes, I understand that in a Catholic school, they maintain certain standards that parents expect. However, they're, at least in a very small sense, stifling a creative outlet. I suppose you could simplify this all down to one word: censorship. Now, I'm not against television censorship or movie censorship or whatever. And what my school did to my story was no different than a TV station not showing an uncensored version of a horror movie. It just bothers me that, if they thought I was a violent kid when I they read the story, what did they think would happen when they refused to print it? Sure, I'm not really violent, I'm scared of even the thought of committing violence. But they didn't know that. So, what could they have thought?

All this reminiscing has brought another question to my mind, semi-unrelated to this story. The Drive-In is a fairly new endeavor and we're trying a few things out, seeing if we like the feel. So far, so good. So, for my next point, what do you all say a few articles that are either short stories or a story continuing over a period of time? I'm sure I'd have a blast making them, but I'm wondering if there's an audience for that sort of stuff around here. Let me know in the comments.

And that concludes the episode of my horror story that was not suitable for school. Now you all know a little more about me, your resident neighborhood Daffy. I'm gonna go think up some story ideas!


  1. Join the club amigo. My dad used to worry about me in hushed tones whenever I displayed my obsessive interest in ghosts and monsters: "Is he gonna turn out all right honey?"

    I once recited Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" in full for a college talent show. You should have heard the girls scream when I brought the (imaginary) axe down.

    And yes, I want to see stories! I planned on sharing some of my horror poetry, so your short stories are totally welcome. Great writing as always Daff!

  2. Your stories would be welcomed. :) looking forward to reading them!