By Mark David Blum, Esq.
(Originally written Nov 1, 2004).
O yeah, all hallows eve yielded a mixed bag of goodies and treats, screams and cries, blood and guts and it was all good.
After a weekend war with a 12 year old and her raging hormones; a war that nearly resulted in me inviting Jason and Mike Meyers over together to babysit. There were times it was a toss up whether she was going to be stuffed down the garbage disposal or end up as LUNCH. I love my daughter, but sometimes ….. well nevermind. This is not about her.
Halloween to me has implications at many levels. On one, it is a day for me to take my kid out and gather up all the candy in the neighborhood so we can all engorge ourselves to the delight of our dentist. On another level, Halloween is where grown ups get to play dress up and party and play like the arrested adolescents that we are. Also, Halloween is a holy day where we rejoice and celebrate the harvest and include our ancestors (the dead) in our festivities. Here in America, Halloween also connotes death, violence, horror, and fear. In other words, IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR.
“Costumes” for most are a way of dressing up sexy and trying to impress. For me, a costume … the costume that I have worn for nearly 10 years … is not a mechanism to hide and subvert, but it is more of a mechanism to come out and be free. My costume does not hide me, it brings me out and brings the Halloween experience up close and personal. It is, by far, the best costume ever and has been so successful in its goal that I have worn it every year since I first came upon it.
The short answer is that the costume is Death. Dressed in black leather from head to toe, with a hood and no face, seeing me is like looking into the darkness of your own soul. I cannot do the costume justice here but suffice it to say that it works --- very well. Because it is black, I can hide in the shadows. Because it has no face, you can walk right up and stare into my face and not see anything but blackness. Behind the hood, I am smiling, but to a child and to a lot of adults, it is a horrifying site. I can see out, but you cannot see in … especially in the black darkness of All Hallows Eve.
What I do is turn my kid loose on the neighborhood to do her trick or treating thing. While she works gathering up dinner for the next few days, I lurk and meander slowly through the darkness of the street. I stand like a manniquin or walk slowly around. Sometimes I just jump out of the bushes or from behind a tree. For every child or adult I make scream, I get 20 brownie points. It is so much fun to stand there looking down on a child while they stare up into the face of darkness wondering if I am real and when they get close … JUMP and yell BOO. Ooooo, the joy of little kid fears and tears.
One man whose kid I scared last night said … “Hey, aren’t you the same guy who was here 3 years ago?” When I answered in the affirmative, he said … “thanks a lot, you scared my kid so bad that she refuses to go out trick or treating for 3 yrs now.” Well, I felt bad for about 2 seconds and then really had to smile. GOOD. Happy Halloween.
This year, the guilt event was a group of small children walking up toward me when one of them saw me, screamed, turned and ran and fell … spilling all her candy. Its not my fault, I was just standing there. BOO! Sometimes I will follow people; slowly … keeping a safe distance of course, but nonetheless making it obvious I am following. One little girl thought I was funny and kept saying “hi” and laughing and telling her mommy that I was following them .. and then she proclaimed with confidence, “he isn’t going to hurt us”. Then, a second later, she quizzed … “is he?” BOO!
Some parents are just plain stupid. They see me standing there and walk their young kids over to see the “scary man”. One dad even encouraged his very young children to walk up and say BOO to the scary man standing absolutely still by the tree. Inch by inch they crept and just as one of them was about to surrender to dad’s insisting and say “BOO”, I jumped forward and gave my own version of BOO. No doubt, there were some wet underwear after that one.
Freaking out is not limited to children. At one point, a group of adults and kids wandered on by and the kids went up to the house and the adults just stood there looking at me standing still next to a tree. One adult commented, “wow, he looks almost real”. When I said “I am real”, she screamed and jumped out her panties. BOO!
Not all adults are wimps. In fact, this one house called me in from the sidewalk after he forked over his vig to the kids and said he had adult treats. I said “naked chicks”? “Anything to smoke?” He didn’t answer. Instead, he shared some chocolate bottles filled with grand marnier. Nice touch; remembering the adults. Next time, however, we want naked chicks.
As we meandered and bantered about the neighborhood, the wife and I were discussing a friend of hers … a former local newscaster who now is a sportscaster in the Midwest. Wifey told me that her friend had already voted and had voted for Bush. Also, apparently they are convinced in her newsroom that Al Qaeda is planning an attack in the Midwest on Tuesday. I quickly shared my thoughts on how stupid that would be and how ridiculous a notion it was that a newsroom would have 3 days advance warning of a bombing … and then pointing out that this woman had voted for Bush and hence she was a total and complete idiot. As I did, this little man … about four feet tall and six feet around the waist who happened to be snooping on the conversation blurted angrilly, “speak for yourself”. Well I puffed out my chest, turned and stood as tall and close to him as I dared without being provocative, and said .. “I am speaking for myself … me and about 200 million others.” I waited for him to take the bait, but alas … he just cowered. What is it with these republicans? They are so angry and hostile and want to fight … yet when they get the chance, they wimp out and back down.
Because of the nature of the operation, meandering about streets with 2,000 other snotty runnynosed children, you tend to see the same folks over and over. While it gets more difficult to scare people, it is easier to make friends and engage in continuing conversations. One woman was carrying a lantern and wearing some form of ancient costume. When she passed the first time, I inquired if she was Diogenes. She mumbled something and kept walking. Owell. Later, when I saw her again and inquired again whether she was Diogenes, she confessed how she did not know wtf I was talking about but moments later she got it. The reason I asked her if she was Diogenes is because I was going to play a private joke on myself. I was going to announce that her search is over. J Well she said she got it and understood and we shared a quiet chuckle. The inside joke part was only for me – and now, you.
It is fun to play with kids. One of my best friend thinks I am an asshole because of the way I play with children. My thinking has always been that if you want to have fun with children, especially young ones, talk to them in language they understand, play games they can relate to, and come down to their level to engage them. Last night on the street, there was this one young teenaged boy who wore a costume that hid his face and apparently he is a Mark Blum in training in that he ‘gets it’ as far as doing the scare thing. He tried it with me but he is a rookie and was clearly outclassed. At one point I turned and saw a faceless person staring at me threatening to bash me over the head with some briefcase object he was carrying. I stood there and stared back from behind the faceless mask. He gave up and walked off. I followed and snatched the hat he was wearing and walked off in the opposite direction. He came back and took the hat and popped me on the head with the case. It was in fun and his friends thought it was funny. Until I snuck back on him, retook the hat and yanked down his pants. Dang, how I love Halloween.
I had two "almost gotchas'. The first came when a Manlius cop pulled up and started schmoozing with the wife and kid. Being old friends, it was a fun chat. While they were blathering through the driver's side window, I snuck up to the passenger window and peeked in; hoping to score me a cop. Instead, he just looked over and said, "hi Mark." grrrrrrrrr Another great idea I had was to bury myself in a pile of leaves and jump out at passers by. Unfortunately, the leaves were wet and a great idea is saved for another time.
Well, after we gathered our loot, I took the gang … to Friendlys in Fayetteville where we pigged out on soda, ice cream and onion rings. (Guess who had what). When I walked into the restaurant in my costume, one diner turned his head so fast he almost got whiplash. “Damn”, he said … “you scared the crap outta me.” GOOD.
The night was not yet over. I still owed my kid a fright. It is a tradition. Because I was so pissed off at her all day and weekend, I never bothered to do the vomit thing. She did not deserve it. By now, however, my mood was more jovial and evil. When we left the restaurant, it was time to serve up my own brand of Halloween evil. Passing the Fayetteville cemetery on 298, I had a great idea. I turned the truck into the cemetery and told them one thing we had to do was to go see some spirits and talk to some ghosts. Amazing how gullible 12 year olds are. O did they buy my endless bullshit about how spirits come out on Halloween and want to feel alive for just a few hours. I told these girls that the way spirits feel alive is by inhabiting the bodies of the living for the night. The spirits enter the body through the nose or mouth when you breathe. I assured them it was ok if a spirit invades the body as it will leave when the sun comes up. I could barely contain my laughter as the two girls held their breath until both nearly passed out. They were screaming and intimidated and scared shitless. It did not help when I turned out the lights on the truck and suggested we take a walk and see how many spirits we could talk to. I kept saying, “look, there’s one” and “there’s another.” This went on for about 15 minutes til the wife too was very intimidated and insisted we leave. FINE. Guess who had to sleep with the lights on, her bedroom door open, and every sound outside scared her to death? Yepper, got her again.
And then suddenly, it was over. The loot was divided. The kid was in bed dreaming of demons and monsters. I had a warm fuzzy from all the fears, tears, and jeers I had gathered over the course of the evening. On went the television and there it was …
A commercial … for Thanksgiving and Christmas from Target.
Here we go. If you thought the election was annoying and over marketed, wait until this Christmas shopping season gets into full swing. With our economy being such a disaster thanks to the court appointed bushwacker, there are going to be very few dollars available for the holidays. Marketing is going to be swift and early to get these few dollars before people go broke. Now THAT is a scary thought.