Monday, October 31, 2016

The Bell Rang

Well, that didn’t go quite as planned. It started out fantastic. I was 100% committed. I had fact, started doing so about 9 months ago, before I even purchased this home. But I could see it all quickly going downhill. My plans were not thorough enough. I'd miscalculated.

While not a complete failure, and how could it have been for all the planning, this was not how I wanted my first Halloween to go down in my new neighborhood. My reputation was on the line here. The house had been vacant for over a year before I moved and who knows what kind of people were living here before me? I had to do well!

Penguin on Halloween
The real work began about a month ago. I was the second house in the neighborhood to decorate for Halloween. I would have done so much sooner, but I didn’t want to be ‘that’ guy...the weird fellow who keeps to himself, hardly seen, yet puts out the jack-o’lanterns and orange lights just after the Forth of July. (I would have if I thought I could get away with it.) Once I saw that first house put their decorations out, it was on! Lights in the bushes, skulls, pumpkins, bats and a scary cat.

A week ago, after seeing some awesome party lights at a Halloween event I attended in Portland, OR, I added white dancing spiders and green floating witches that illuminated the front of my house. A few days ago I added a witch’s head, an arm reaching out from the bushes, and skulls on strings. I had a bat hanging from my porch light and 3 skulls on stakes, which lit up. And for the grand night, itself, I added a strobe light just behind the jack-o’lanterns that have kept watch over my yard from the living room windows the past month.

Just inside the hallway I set up a small table on which I put a creepy table cloth, 2 more jack-o’-lanterns, a candelabra covered in spiders and a few creepy grotesque faces with my bowl of treats. This year, I was giving out packages of Danish cookies! I had enough for 50 little ones; the little trick or treaters in their cute costumes, shyly (in only some cases, as it would turn out) pressing forth their plastic pumpkins, back packs or just plain old plastic grocery bags to gather their plunder of tootsie rolls, jolly rogers, dots, sour patch kids and fun-sized snickers to fill their lunch boxes until Christmas break, if they’re lucky! All that and the Danish cookie, I was giving out.

My table and treats

I’ve not done this in over 8 years. I’ve either lived in places inaccessible to kids (I lived in a back yard in-law apartment for six years in Pacifica, CA) or for 7 years I worked at a haunted house every October and was never home for Halloween. I’m out of practice. It’s a new neighborhood. I was not prepared for the amount of garbed little ones, and a few bigger ones in no costume at all. There were so many and they seemed to descend like starved locusts.

The first bell rang later than I was expecting; just after 7PM. It was a ninja and a little princess. Dressed in a black hooded robe, I answered the door, “You rang?” and acted like I had no idea that it was Halloween. Yeah, I always dress like this and I always have a dish of treats at the door! They loved it, though. And the next little dude, all of 7 years of age, dressed in regular clothes but wearing the mask of an old crotchety man (hello, mirror?) complimented my costume 5 times! He was my favorite!

A very young Penguin as Batman

Then came the Batmen and Supermen, an Incredible Hulk and an Elsa. There was a witch and several zombies. Each of the little ones wearing skeleton shirts I told, “You better eat your treats, you’re nothing but skin and bones!” The helicopter parents were there with many of them, keeping them safe, reminding them to say thank you, and in a few cases having to queue them, “Say trick or treat!” I must have been one of their first stops!

My cookies garnered many warm responses, but were dwindling fast. They came in groups. Each time the bell rang, there were 6, 9, or 12 kids. They traveled in packs. Or is it a murder? No, I’m pretty sure that’s only crows. It wasn’t 7:30 yet, and I was headed to the kitchen for the rest of the bag of cookies. Not enough. Soon, the bowl only had 3 cookies left! I began to panic.

What now? I looked through the pantry. I eyed tea sachets and packets of hot sauce. (Well, this IS Texas!) I began to sweat. I could hear more children coming down the street, see the SUVs and large pickup trucks slowly creeping down with them to keep an eye on things. The dark side of me began to think, the character that for so many years pulled the kind of screams from men and women that you normally only hear in horror movies, but this was no movie, it was me, a scary clown, looking at them and screaming back, “What are we screaming for? CLOWNS? I HATE clowns! Hehehehehe!” Being Whispers the Clown, making people scream and in some cases, wet their pants, was so therapeutic. It still is, when I get the chance...

Whispers the Clown, my alter ego

I remembered the kid, Charlie Brown. Everyone loves him. Everyone remembers how he went trick or treating and kept getting rocks. I could make the children’s day, I could send them away to actually say, “I got a rock. That weird guy that no one ever sees, who put out all the creepy things in his yard the day after Valentine’s Day, he gave me a rock.” But the sane part of me took over. I don’t take returns and I know that chances are good that giving a rock would only mean I’d be getting them back...and with shards of glass to have to clean up, as well.

Back to the pantry, the children, getting louder. I couldn’t turn my lights off just yet, it wasn’t even 8. Eureka! There were 3 bags of brownie brittle and 5 single sized bags of kettle corn. The bell rang. The bell rang. Then a knock. Eager little things. A pirate, a police officer, a parrot girl, 2 zombies, a princess and 2 skeletons...they took all I had. I saw more a few houses down. Those packets of hot sauce were starting to sound doable!

Back to the pantry. I had a box of pumpkin-shaped cookies; individually wrapped. I also had a box of chocolate chip granola bars. These were my little treats I travel with for those early morning flights when there isn’t much time for breakfast. Into the treat bowl they went. The pumpkin cookies went first. Then I started handing out the granola bars. I didn’t mention what I was putting in their treat bags. I didn’t want to be known as the guy who ran out of candy too early and started giving away odd items from all over the house (I actually eyed a cat toy for about 1/100th of a second). 

My house lit up at night

The bell rang, a couple of middle school aged boys with really no costume at all were standing before me. I silently threw the granola bars into their bags, hoping they wouldn’t notice until they got home. Damn the luck, as I closed the door, I heard the older boy exclaim, “He gave me a 90 calorie granola bar!” I’d never noticed they were only 90 calories! But there, in the dark, in my front yard, he could determine what I’d thrown into his bag, grabbed it, and the first thing he noticed was 90 calories. That guy’s going far in life, let me tell you!

I went back to the living room and took a seat. My neighbor across the street was entertaining a group I’d seen earlier. She closed the door and the kids, parents in tow, walked down the street. The lights in the house went off. First the porch lights, then the upstairs lights with the dragon in the window, then the inflatable pumpkin that had been puffed up for the past 3 weeks deflated and was now flat on the ground like a cow patty. They were done. I looked at my bowl and saw my last 4 granola bars. The clock chimed. It was 8 o’clock.

I went outside and looked up and down the street. Nothing. I was done. I had made it. I turned off my light show of spiders and witches. I unplugged the orange lights in the bushes and the 3 glowing skulls. I extinguished the jack-o’lanterns and stopped the strobe. Finally, the front porch light went off. 

Witches and spiders on my house

From outside, I could hear a groan and a small symphony of “Aww”s. I looked through the peep hole and saw a couple with a cute little girl in a ballerina outfit and her brother in a SWAT officer costume. I turned the porch light back on, opened my door and heard them exclaim, “Yay, he’s our hero, the best decorated house in all the land. His costume is the most awesome costume. All hail the great one who reveres Halloween and gives out the best treats. Behold the fall gourds carefully carved and still glowing, not from fire within, but from the sheer joy of celebrating the fall seasonal holiday of Halloween. Yay, oh yay!” 

OK, maybe some of that was just in my head, and I apologized that all I had left were a few more granola bars. But, hey, they’re only 90 calories each. I’ll do better next year! I promise.

Pumpkins, bats and the light show

1 comment:

  1. That was so good!

    Omg I have so been there! I gave out change one year when I was too sick to get candy.

    Your house looked great. Can't wait to see what you do for Christmas.