Halloween (according to a three-time costume contest winner)


Halloween and the weeks leading up to it are perhaps my favourite time of the year. It beats the pants off Christmas and makes Easter look like a bunny-infested joke. It devours Valentine’s Day for breakfast and defecates Labour Day. It tears St. Patrick’s Day limb from limb and pulls horrendous pranks on April Fools Day. It flattens Thanksgiving with an eighteen-wheeler and —

Okay. I think you get it. I love Halloween.

The leaves have turned to the lovely golds and oranges a few weeks ago, and now are browning and leaving a satisfying layer of crunch on the dying grass. They tumble in pre-November winds, rattling like bone windchimes against granite headstones. Tree branches, naked, resemble long skinny fingers, hoping to grab at your cloak as you try to escape the huntsman your jealous stepmother has sent to cut out your heart. Crows replace the prettier, daintier birds in quantities and their chilling cries and rolling, nearly erotic mating calls pierce the gray-clouded sky. You could say that murders are gathering among the dry skeletons in the empty garden. Colours are muted and toned, perfectly coordinated in a palette unique to the season. The air is crisp and sharp, a promise that anything can happen at any moment. The cloying scents of dying things hang in streams of wind.

If that itself isn’t enough for the overly-dramatic Halloween lover, demons are abound. The moon, for one night of the year, loses control over its wolves, and even if it’s not full on this night the werecubs howl and slaughter beneath their mother and captor. Nymphs flutter out of the forest, quick like knives and just as deadly. Hippies time-jump from the sixties, and more than one Leonard Nimoy will be seen walking the streets. Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn are not the only tragic queens called back for the evening and several zombie armies will gather in confused ranks, searching for trouble.

Katherine Howard (Tamzin Merchant), the ill-fated Wife No.5 of Henry VIII will be making her rounds with boyfriend Thomas Culpepper on October 31st. Property of Showtimes.

Candy is the cure given out by frightened neighbours, trying to keep these four-foot-high monstrosities away, trying to fend off the nightmares brought on by the masked and face painted expressions of hungry ghouls. Every house is a haunted house on this night. Cobwebs are not only left alone but accentuated, and grotesquely large spiders find home in conspicuous corners. Witches have crash-landed in yards and cackles and bubbling can be heard from kitchens everywhere.

Vampire-hunting kits are sold so quickly Buffy’s business associates can’t keep them on the shelves; everyone should be on guard for Lady Gaga. Wouldn’t want to be infected.

Special warnings for this year include keeping away from boy bands resembling One Direction — stores are handing out ear plugs and real music to combat these incomprehensible gangs.

Halloween specialists are encouraging home owners to dress up as frying pans to better harvest the eggs thrown at them by immature teenagers. Why waste them? Make an omlette.

If you run out of candy, never fear. TicTacs, Oreos, mint-flavoured dental floss, and molasses horse cookies make great impromptu treats. Just remember: never give out anything that could break your windows. No one wants a temper-tantrum-throwing princess to be displeased with her sack of potatoes or ten-pound bag of apples.

Unidentified ancestors are always a good thing to dress up as. These four sisters were found in a pile of old family photos, and I’ve been haunted since.

Are you lacking in a Halloween costume? Be original and actually wear something that covers at least 90% of your skin. Be witty. Be a couch potato (a potato sitting on a couch). Be a talk show host (Jay Leno). Be a bee. Be your cranky old neighbour (but you might want to skip his house on the trick-or-treat route). Be a historical figure that no one will understand (Edgar Allen Poe, your mother-in-law, or Shakespeare’s son Hamnet). If you want to go scary try something a little more original than a vampire. We’re all so over vampires, you know? Be a rotting member of the cast of Jersey Shore. Or one of the face-paint loving guys from ACDC (I don’t listen to them, so don’t be upset I don’t know their names). Or, if you’re really talented and have a whole day, make it look like someone turned you inside-out. I haven’t attempted this one yet. Don’t have enough fake skin or blood capsules. Maybe next year…

Decorations: don’t worry. If you didn’t have the time, I’m sure some neighbour kids will kindly mummify your front yard with a few rolls of Charmin. Those dead flies on the windowsill? Scoop ’em up and arrange them on a nice plate in view of the trick-or-treaters. The cobwebs are fine, very au-naturel, and if all else fails, spread some dried leaves on the doorstep. A nice crunch under their feet will have a lovely effect. If you’ve been decorating for three weeks, already, then you’re golden! The robotic dummies, the strategically placed strobe lights, the cauldron of blood and boiling eyeballs, the eerily flickering jack-o-lanterns, the CD playing with screams, chainsaw roars, and creaking doors. You got this. You might even be so awesome that you’ll keep the trick-or-treaters away. More candy for you, my ghoulish friend.

Keep the little demons busy for a couple extra minutes by telling a spooky story over a pot of cooking liver. Invite them into your purple-lit spidery mansion and relay the time that you were nearly attacked by a man in a white shirt after a birthday party one night, only to discover that he had a knife sticking out of his chest. Or the time a kindly gentlemen escorted you from the club to your car, but when you asked your friends if they ever saw him again, they had no idea who you were talking about. It might help to have a family member cast as the role of mysterious/horrifying character, ready to jump out at the climax.

Better yet: make a rhyme to recite as you hand out your dental floss and Kit Kats. Nothing creeps people out like a good, freaky rhyme.

Trick-or-treaters, you I see

Disturbed the woman in the hanging tree

Hear her wails, her angry bray

You better hurry, be on your way

Make your way passed her, careful

She’s famished, tired, and hateful

Look out for the woman in the hanging tree

She’s been dead for fifty years, you see.

Happy Halloween.

Do you have any Halloween horror stories to tell? Some funny ones? 🙂


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