Halfway through our hayride, around the second bend into the woods, two of our fellow riders—the clown and the guy with the Scream mask propped on top of his head—jumped out. Unlike the rest of us, who had taken the hayride for fall family fun, these guys took it as a ride to work. After the sun went down, they were to jump out from behind or swing down from trees to terrify folks riding the haunted version of our sweet hayride.

The woman next to me said that at the end of the haunted version, a horse with a headless rider charges out of the woods. My eyes widened. I leaned across my daughter to tell my husband, "We have to come back without the kids."

My husband—a perfectly brave man—rolled his eyes, not sharing my enthusiasm for haunted houses or hayrides. When my daughter asked, "Mama, why do you like being scared so much?" he laughed. And waited for my answer.

"I don't like being scared," I told them. "I like being spooked. Big difference."

And there is. I'm not a fan of the heart-sink that happens when my 3-year-old darts across the street. I don't like the raccoon that pops out from behind our garbage cans at night. Goodness, it took three tries and practically being pushed by the guy behind me for me to jump off the high dive. This summer.

But my love of the creepy and ooky-spooky is altogether different. It's a love I've had for as long as I can remember. When I was 6 and my cousins tried to torment me with ghost stories about their creeky house in Louisville, far from not being able to sleep, I wanted to explore it.

My penchant for all things creepy fuels my love of Halloween as well. It's why I congratulate neighbors ...

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