No monsters here. Just a witch having a bad hair day.

As empty nesters, my husband and I don’t usually decorate at Halloween. Our neighborhood, however, goes insane. Every year the McMansions along Ocean Drive sprout four-foot spiders that crawl up walls, mummified corpses that hang from trees, even cemeteries with body parts writhing from the ground. It’s a tad off-putting, in my opinion. The whole Halloween gestalt seems to have gotten a lot more ghoulish since I was a kid.

Because we’re not festive and we have a long, shadowy walkway, many of the roving herds of youngsters assume our house is “dark.” So every year I wind up with tons of leftover Snickers and M&MS, most of which migrates inexorably to my hips.

This year I decided to set out a pumpkin, just to let the kids know we hand out candy. So late on Halloween afternoon, I pulled into the local pumpkin patch. The manager was already closing up shop for the season. For five bucks I walked off with a magnificent display pumpkin. This gourd was a masterpiece, an intricately carved goofy face that could have been created by Disney.

Once I set the pumpkin out and put a candle inside, I got inspired. I rummaged through the house for anything scary-looking I could find. I turned up a large stone raven, an iron candelabra, and a red candle in a hurricane lamp.

It worked. By 6 p.m. we had a steady stream of Trick-or-Treaters. The thing is, our house didn’t look faux scary like our neighbors’. With candelabra blazing and a giant stone raptor glaring out the window, I think we looked actually scary. I knew I’d gone too far when a kidling ventured up to the door by himself. He seemed to be rooted to the ground in fear as he peered inside the entry.

“Happy Halloween. Um, you look startled,” I said, handing him some extra M&MS for his trouble.

The kid fled down the walkway to his waiting mom.

“No monsters there. Just a witch,” he told her.

Elvira signing books at ComicCon 2007
For the record, I wasn’t dressed up as a witch. But I was having a bad hair day. Maybe he meant a sexy witch, like Elvira. But I doubt it.

I should have spent the evening writing, not trying to palm off my trigger foods on the innocent.

Next year, no pumpkin, and no inferno.

And definitely no fright hair.

What about you? Any Halloween tales for the year? What about you East Coasters? We heard Halloween got cancelled due to snow. True?

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11 thoughts on “No monsters here. Just a witch having a bad hair day.

  1. My wife found a plastic “Mickey Mouse” jack-o-lantern. We put this in the window with a small light in it, and turned on the porch light. Apparently that was enough. We had our share of trick-or-treaters, and to my delight, they were of the appropriate age. Some years I’ve wanted to give out shaving cream and disposable razors to some of the “young men” who showed up. (Our local weather forecaster suggested giving them a job application from McDonalds along with a sucker).

  2. Kathryn, we had very few this year because of three days of rain. Maybe next year will be better. Since I was a kid, Halloween is my favorite holiday. When our two sons were young, we used to have “Haunted Drive-In Theater”. I would take the day off from work and get everything set up. The main attraction was a 6-ft Sony projection TV that I wheeled up to our bay window. With speakers outside, I would show movies each year such as ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY or GHOST BUSTERS. We would invite all the kids (and parents) to come around after collecting their candy and watch the movie. Many years we would have 30-40 kids sitting on our front lawn eating candy and enjoying the monster flick. Our kids and the neighborhood children are all grown and gone, now. But we still run into folks every once in a while who as, “Weren’t you the guys who showed the Halloween movies?” It was great fun.

  3. My street doesn’t do much. We have some over-achievers a couple of streets over, however. The creepiest exhibit for me is one house which features a bunch of little goblins playing Ring-Around-The-Rosey with an oak tree. We know where little ghosts come from, don’t we? It gives me a chill.

  4. My front light was burned out, but the kids were ringing the doorbell anyway, so I figured I might as well replace it so I could at least who they were.

  5. Halloween / Trick or Treat is kinda tricky in Alaska. Last night we got four inches of snow and it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually the snow has fallen by a week earlier, but the east coast stole it all this year. Trick or treating outside has much less impact than in other parts of the continent due to parka’s and boots covering up the costumes.

    Add that to the fact that the Sands house, being a fairly conservative religious one, doesn’t do Halloween at all and it makes for an empty night for kids on our block. To facilitate kids who wanna beg for candy the local phone company, Alaska Communications, hosts a Trick or Treat Town in their rather massive warehouse so the kiddies can come into a warm building and show their costumed best while going “door to door” through a few score or so booths spouting the obligatory “Trick or Treat” (our Boy Scout Troop 104 gets to be the janitorial staff in exchange for a donation). Being that it is in a warehouse and there are police and private security patrolling, egging and other pranks are pretty limited.

    In spite of the fact that the Sands clan was all at church holding our own Halloween alternative (“Hallelujah Night” – demons, monsters, and serial killers highly discouraged) we got home about 10 pm to discover that despite our porch light being off, the fish tanks visible in the front window were enough to have attracted a copious amount of attention as attested to a major highway’s worth of foot prints tracked through the otherwise fresh snow leading to our front door.

    Sorry to disappoint kiddies.

    When my wife first came over from Korea she nearly freaked seeing people dressed as ghouls and zombies and witches back in the 80’s. Her grandmother (Halmonim) had been a shamanist leader in their home town who converted to Christianity in the early 70s and then lead the whole town that direction, forbiding such pagan practices as much as possible. My wife was scared even to go outside, perhaps thinking the shamanist hold outs had come to get her, as she was the first convert in the family and led her Halmonim to Christ.

  6. Richard, all of our Trick or Treaters were very young this year, thank goodness! We woke up to find all the pumpkins on the street smashed, though, so those older kids must have come out later. Joe, your multimedia presentation sounds like great fun. My dad used to do all kinds of special effects, including dry ice coming from a cauldron. One year he threw pinches of gunpowder into the stew to make little explosions, and the whole thing got out of hand!

  7. Kathryn,

    We live in an apartment complex, so we don’t get any trick or treaters. But we always have a bag of candy just in case. This year, since I’ve had a great kick-start in my weight loss – 30 pounds since October 4th – due to my heart surgery, I didn’t want the temptaion. So we got a kind of candy I don’t like. (Trust me, it was a trick finding some!)

    My wife took the unopened bag to work with her yesterday.

    We don’t dress up, but the thought did occur to me that I could answer the door without a shirt and scare the kids with the bright red scar on my chest.

    If you look anything at all like your picture here at TKZ, (many authors don’t), the only witch I could imagine anyone mistaking you for might be Elizabeth Montgomery from “Bewitched”.

  8. My son (he’s four) cracked me up because every time we left a house he’d turn to me and say “I like that lady (or man). The meaning behind his words was clear. Give him candy and make a friend for life.

  9. Dave, congrats on your weight loss! I warned my husband not to bring home any Fun Size Snickers or M&MS ’cause they’re my favorite, but he still brought them! I’ve been jonesing for the leftovers all day today. Lara, I love the simple truths that come out of children’s mouths.

  10. I had a witch hat and a long nose. Kids just laughed. We didn’t have any trick or treaters until the rain ceased around 7pm . . . then we had a steady stream (for lack of a better pun.)

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