Beauty Shop Talk: Hints From Hell

Folks in Burleson, Texas -- where they ban books and try to put pants on the "realistic" elk statue in the school foyer -- know how to nip immorality in the bud. But nothing tops their idea of lumping Jesus together with black cats and Batman costumes on a holiday many fundamentalists condemn.Burleson Baptist Temple's haunted house -- "The Living Hell IV: The Face of Eternal Death" -- scares the devil out of kids with live enactments of a teen suicide, a visit with a hospitalized AIDS victim and an abortion. It includes a trip to hell, a bloody Jesus, and soda pop for refreshment.Destinee went last Halloween with her Sunday school class and had nightmares for months. She's a changed girl. Never asks to borrow the car. Spends most of her time in the closet. What parent wouldn't jump at the chance to manipulate her child with such wholesome fare? Religious indoctrination is such a powerful thing. Reminds me of the time I was held captive by the Heavens to Betsy Cult.First, they broke me with sophisticated brainwashing techniques, playing "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies night and day. And all they fed me was the same re-heated tuna casserole -- breakfast, lunch and dinner. By the third day, they achieved their objective when I professed belief in trickle-down economics. The de-programmer hired by my family had to pummel me with water balloons to release me from the cult's control. Burleson's Face of Eternal Death started me thinking about how I could inculcate morality right here in my own home town. Vicki Charmaine's House of Zombie Women was designed to encourage sexual abstinence in Axel. The first thing you see in the haunted trailer house is five women lined up exposing the Level 9 stretch marks on their stomachs. I borrowed the Baptist's realistic approach -- the whole place smells like dirty diapers, and there's a tape of a screaming infant turned up full blast. The washing machine's broken and the sheriff's at the door.Send your sons. Even the huskiest halfback cringes while viewing a father of three undergoing an uncomfortable vasectomy. And all the kids freak out from the Night of the Living Dead Virtual Reality Room, where zombie-fied parents wander the house in their pajamas. Visitors experience a mild shock every time mom and dad try to go back to bed. The House of Zombie Women sure packs a wallop. On the parking lot, apathetic teenagers stand in line popping their gum and saying things like "cool, daddy-o." Once inside, they're transformed into weak-kneed penitents begging for mercy. They suffer nausea at the Morning Sickness Diorama. They faint from the enactment of a delivery room episiotomy. They are disgusted by the sight of a mannequin with cracked nipples. Two teenage girls were so impressed by the exhibit, they vowed to become computer programmers.All it took was one trip for the Bunch kids to get grossed out about sex. I don't think there will be a little Batman running around calling me Grandma any time soon, if ever.I hope you will join the Burleson Baptists and me in using the holidays to teach your family a lesson they'll never forget. At our home there will be spoiled dressing on Thanksgiving Day to illustrate the merits of proper refrigeration. A singed Christmas tree might be just the thing to warn of the dangers of overloaded electrical outlets. And how about replacing the Easter bunny with Freddy Krueger? See you at church!

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