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Ghouls, goblins and student debt

OPINION

October 07, 2012|By Jim Walsh, @jxwalsh | For RedEye

So, in case you missed it, "Goosebumps" turned 20 this year. I know, right?

The children's book series about strange monsters, eerie grown-ups, cursed tchotchkes and the relentless ability of 12-year-olds everywhere to overcome these obstacles was first published in July 1992. Ermahgerd!

Scholastic says all those titles from R.L. Stine—who, by the way, has a new book out for 20- and 30-somethings called "Red Rain" that drops Tuesday—put it in the pantheon as one of the best-selling children's series of all time. Back in the day, they were unloading 4 million of those bad boys a month, according to Reuters.

Clearly, the stories struck a chord with just about anyone growing up in the '90s, myself included. But those were different times. When I realized the horror series that defined my childhood was turning the big 2-0 this year, I was inspired to look back at some of the things from the books that scared me then. Here's a list of classic "Goosebumps" plotlines—alongside the things that currently keep me up at night.

Then: A dad who creates a plant clone of himself as a result of weird basement experiments.

Now: Cultural malaise.

Then: A spooky mask that won't come off.

Now: Deodorant that wears off.

Then: Monster blood.

Now: Crushing student loan debt.

Then: My neighbor is a ghost!

Now: My neighbor is a drug dealer.

Then: A mirror that looks normal but actually is a gateway into a parallel universe where our reflections want to trade places with us.

Now: Inflammatory political rhetoric.

Then: The possibility of having my body swapped with that of a dog.

Now: A dog that lives down the street that tried to bite me one time.

Then: A haunted cuckoo clock that makes you go back in time and re-live rotten days.

Now: The vagaries of investment banking.

Then: My new school is haunted!

Now: The GMAT.

Then: A ventriloquist dummy that comes to life and wreaks havoc on a family by playing mean pranks.

Now: Structure fires.

Then: Mummies.

Now: The cost of a wedding reception.

Then: Getting trapped in Terror Tower while vacationing in London.

Now: The cost of a plane ticket at Christmas time.

Then: Piano lessons from a robot teacher who wants to harvest children's hands as part of a plot to build piano-playing robot hands.

Now: Elevators that are too crowded.

Then: Lawn gnomes that come alive at night and cause destruction.

Now: When you go to a dinner party that's really lame but you can't leave.

Then: A creepy old camera that causes bad things to happen to people in the photos.

Now: Same.

jxwalsh@tribune.com

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