Saturday, October 29, 2005

Chicken Soup for the Lost Soul

Halloween isn't all about reminding your relatives that the land they're sitting on may be part of a Viking burial ground - or that intensley freaky things happen 365 days a year in Bridgewater. There are also fuzzy holiday memories. Not quite "fuzzy" in the way Thanksgiving or Christmas are - kind of werewolf fuzzy. Maybe even giant, man-eating spider-from-hell fuzzy. Or even my favorite, "do I need to work on my grammar" fuzzy. Of course, it snowed today, two days before Halloween. So, in a way, it sort of is Christmas-fuzzy.

Halloween conjures images of cheesy primetime specials from the 80's, those little sonic ghost things, and lots and lots of those paper cut-out things on the windows. That's me in the picture above, circa 1985. That's definately a very old picture, because it doesn't have that animated witch that's dominated our living room window since before I could even spell Halloween. Also, these photos seem to predate the knowledge that using a flash in front of a window makes for a very crappy picture. Still, it doesn't take away from the old girl's glory - which is now long since faded. Even those generic monster faces of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and The Grim Reaper that you can find everywhere appear below in their prime. There's a certain quaint cuteness to the witch that I seemed to miss as a child - because once her evil green eyes lit up, she'd scare the pants off of me!

What made her freakier as I grew up is that she looks EXACTLY like a high school teacher I really hated. I wasn't sure if it was just me at first, so I had my friends check it out and they all agreed. Or maybe it works the other way around: I knew there was something off about her that made me uneasy, but I didn't know what. Maybe if her eyes turned green and she started shaking like she had palsey and made really annoying motor sounds I would have made the connection sooner...and probably have never left my house or gone to sleep again in my natural life. At any rate, all she does now is smell like battery acid - and the witch has seen better days too! (Sorry)

When you have three kids of different ages, Halloween starts to lose its magic very slowly - meaning me and Glenn kind of did our own thing the last few years of trick-or-treating. One thing everyone always got into was decorating. We were huge on it. When I was a kid, no inch of the house was left without some hideous ghoul or broom-riding witch. The main feature was our vampire couple, who always made their honeymoon our front yard on Halloween.

"I told yuz, yous cahn't be doin' that in my house! Get a room already!"

Remember what I said about kids not being creative anymore? Well, it's in the last post if you don't. Here's a great example of the sort of ingenuity that parents just don't have these days. That's John in mom's trademark "Wonder Bread" costume, which was recyled so we all had the "fundignity" of wearing it. Of course, nobody could really tell what it was; which I don't attribute to mom's sewing skills. I think it has more to do with the fact that my family was apparently smarter that most of the people I went to school with. Also, I'm not even sure Wonder Bread is still around anymore; they may have been swallowed by that evil little girl from Sunbeam.

Here's a detail of the bread costume. "Wonder" is right, this thing is certainly an enygma. I'd guess one of those playing card guys from Alice In Wonderland or a festive tampon before I came up with - "Oh, he's a loaf of bread!" Franlky, I'm more concerned with what the hell my dad is supposed to be. Was that a stocking on his head? At any rate, as you can see above, the little white thing chewing on my mittens is my grandmother's old dog Susu - the best dog ever. She certainly never puked on my bedroom floor, unlike some other dogs I can think of.

Here's another picture of us with the neighbors. We often got together and formed a party while trick-or-treating, like we're from Final Fantasy of something. I guess that analogy works; every few steps we met a monster, and at each crucial stage we successfully passed, we got a reward of some kind. Personally, I like the old couple who gave out books of Burger King coupons instead of candy. It counted as money; and while the candy would be eaten only a few days later, the coupons held the promise of free food in my future. I suppose if you try to give out something like that now, you're asking for an egg-pelting. I don't get kids anymore, really; no imagination.

Suddenly, I feel old. Good thing John had that sudden muse to inspire him to transform our front porch into a creey foyer - complete with a stuffed figure that wound up looking like Saddam. The best part was, everything we used was actual old furninture from our grandmother's basement. It only took a few hours to put up the plywood false walls and create our inner porch. A nifty gizmo I bought that flickers the lights in response to sound was also a nice touch. We tried to photograph our eerie masterpiece, but this was before John got his awesome digital camera, so nothing came out.

I hope to rekindle some of that holiday magic this year. There may be some wierd magic going on already, as it turns out. Halloween is supposed to be mild and in the 60's this year. Meanwhile, it's snowing like Christmas Eve outside, so who knows? I hope to keep up the festive atmosphere I've always had and not just rely on old memories like the one below.

"Yeah, well screw your pumpkin - I've got a string!"


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