Think back to high school, if you dare. It’s Friday night, and you and your newest sweetheart head to the theater for the latest horror movie (probably A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or Friday the 13th). Back then, those movies gave us a chance to be temporarily frightened of things we knew weren’t real (or hoped weren’t). And, okay, it was also an excuse to get a little more familiar with the hands, shoulders, etc. of our dates. What made those movies great was that it was all in fun. But what about real horror? At some point, we outgrew horror films because life itself became more terrifying. And frankly, it gets more so every day.

The “Nightmare” on Your Street

In 1984, Freddie Krueger came after us in our sleep. But in 2017, A Nightmare on Elm Street has a new address…anywhere the IRS, Franchise Tax Board, or court system can serve us with an audit request or command our appearance for jury duty. Unlike Krueger, the tax man cometh any time he wants. And while we can wake from a bad dream and shake it off, an audit can feel like a medical procedure without anesthesia, leaving us begging to die (metaphorically). Score one for adulthood.

Michael Myers aka Your Mortgage Lender

Halloween continues to make some of us laugh because, if we watched (and listened) closely, we intuitively learned that having sex in our parents’ bed would lead to no good (or the pointy end of a gardening tool). Michael Myers was faceless and scared us right out of our homes. Sounds a bit like your local mortgage lender, eh? Today, our homes represent safety, permanence, and accomplishment. And with that picket fence came a mortgage the likes our parents can’t comprehend. Refinancing or taking out a second mortgage is tantamount to Hollywood horror…and you can’t write that stuff.

Why Jason Never Retired

Friday the 13th came hot on the heels of Halloween, and taught us, once again, that you never leave a bad guy for dead. He always manages to survive. “Jason,” it seems, had no interest in retiring from the horror movie biz, and perhaps that’s the one thing that scares our generation the most: retirement. It’s the uncertainty. Will we have enough money? What will we do with our time? What if we want to reenter the work force in a different capacity? Will they take us in? Welcome us with open arms? There’s a lot of unknowns in that plotline, and so we make “bucket lists” and IRA contributions and hope we figure it out before “Jason” shows up to escort us to the other side.

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Ultimately, the fears we had were far smaller (and simpler) than those we face today. Don’t believe me? Ask a young(er) person what he or she fears most. The answer probably won’t surprise you.