tatumSo the other day I’m making coffee when I hear something weird. It’s this other-worldly voice, not really moaning, but not really articulating anything, either. As I had enjoyed the better part of a large bottle of Malbec the night before, I dimly wondered if I was having some sort of mild DTs.

In a flash, a better notion hit me, along the lines of, “Why don’t you look out the window and see what it is making that noise, moron.”


Sure enough, a cute little kid, a little sand blower of about 4 walking with his grandfather, was standing on my front steps pointing at my front door. I realized that he had seen our Halloween ghoul and was trying to talk to it. For all I know, it talked back to him.

It’s fairly normal for kids to do that; less so for kids my age. But it occurs to me, once again, that one of the good things about being a 40 something year old kid is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be Halloween to do crazy things.

But it helps.

I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with Halloween.  It was certainly a lot of fun to wear cool costumes and gruesome monster makeup while at the same time indulging in what amounts to a night of carte blanche panhandling/blackmail. But the consequences can be tough. When I was about nine, I overdosed on caramel squares one or two days after

Halloween, eating something like 36 of them in a 45-minute sitting. I wouldn’t become that violently ill again until my freshman year in college at my very first fraternity kegger.

I know this; the difference between candy and beer is that you will want a beer three days after an episode of overindulgence.  Yet I haven’t been able to so much as look at a caramel square in 37 years.

The greatest thing about Halloween, however, is the fun one can have scaring the pants off people. I remember an infamous Halloween in college a buddy of mine, a basketball player aptly nicknamed “Six-Nine,” donned a black trench coat and witch mask and proceeded to generate the most satisfying shrieks of abject terror all over campus just by peering into windows and bursting into dorm rooms.

Of course, one needs to be careful. I had a relative, I believe a great uncle, who once thought it would be a good idea to scare his little brother. The little brother, already leery of being out near dark, had been sent on an errand of mercy by his mother to take a pot of soup to a sick neighbor. The older brother, seeing the opportunity, snatched a sheet off the line, hid in the woods along the path the little brother had to take, and waited for the perfect moment to rise from the grave as it were.

A few minutes later, their mother was startled as the younger brother charged into the house screaming, “Momma! Momma! I done kilted me a ghost!”

What big brother did not know was that little brother, afraid of just such an encounter, had armed himself with a shovel. His mother found big brother, still wrapped in the sheet, out like a light in the middle of the path, a dandy goose egg rising merrily on the side of his head.

These days, I’m less into good scares and dirty tricks than I am cool stuff. I still regret not shelling out $240 for this thing I saw in a grocery store in Asheville – a life sized skeleton dressed in outlaw biker garb that sang ZZ Top’s “La Grange” when you got close enough to the motion sensor. But I’m pretty happy with the spider that climbs its own wire that currently hangs from our front door knob.

A few years back, I was really anti-Halloween, in that I would give out such yummy treats as my world famous Chocolate Covered Hard Boiled Egg on a Stick, foil-wrapped bouillon cubes (they look just like caramel squares in the dark), and bittersweet baking chocolate.  I have mellowed over the years, but I still believe Trick or Treaters should be under double digit ages and less than 6 feet tall. There’s a reason it’s against the law for adult-sized people to wear masks.

On the other hand, I’m not above putting in my vampire teeth and going trick or beering.

After all, there’s something about putting in teeth to consume things that feels strangely prescient…

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