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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Halloween

By Deejay of Small Beer

Halloween is coming, the goose is getting fat

Please put a nickel in the old man's hat

If you haven't got a nickel, a penny will do

If you haven't got a penny, then God bless you.

I'm amazed that I still remember that; it's been well over half a century. In my early childhood (oh, so many years ago), we used to recite the whole thing at every house we visited. By the time my daughter was making the rounds, all that was required was a simple "Trick or Treat" (preferably intoned by childish voices in unison). What do they say now? Maybe they just hold their pillowcases open and say, "Yoh!"

Anyway, I love holidays, especially secular ones, and Halloween is my absolute favorite. I love Halloween.

When I had a house in the suburbs, with lots of small people appearing on my doorstep, I used to do it up big. I would put on a tape of ghostly sounds, with moans, shrieks, rattling chains, etc., and with that playing in the background would greet the little beggars at the door in costume (usually Count Dracula) and weird face paint (stark white).

But I didn't want to scare the little ones, so I would warmly greet them by holding out a tray with goodies on it (small candy bars) and in a kindly voice tell them, "Each of you can take three, and I love your angel costume, your Darth Vader," etc. I liked to think the children would go away saying, "Actually, that old Dracula is a pretty cool dude, you know?"

But now I live in a high-rise condo where the youngest resident is about 25, so I guess those days are behind me.

My halcyon days of Halloweening were when my daughter Jenni was old enough to go trick-or-treating. Those were my heavier drinking days, and my cocktail of choice back then was a Manhattan. I'd take a plastic beer cup acquired from a baseball game that summer, fill it with ice and then load it to the brim with whiskey (Canadian Club, if you please) and sweet vermouth (Martini and Rossi, if you have it), and carry that around the neighborhood while the little ones went up to the doors and collected the loot that was their annual due.

The parents of Jenni's friends were always so happy that a neighborhood adult would so readily volunteer to chaperone the little ones on their rounds, but they didn't realize I saw myself as the real beneficiary: my consumption on Halloween was more than I would ever be permitted normally.

In my own childhood, the Halloween I remember most happened when I was about 11 or 12 and getting a bit too old for the ritual. Perhaps you might remember the Bill Cosby story of the kids going to this spooky old house where a scary old lady lives, and they find her to be very kindly and welcoming? My memory is a variation of that.

The custom then, as now, was to turn on outside lights if your house had goodies to offer. One house in the next block, which was never so lit, was the home of a bachelor. I don't know what he did for a living, but he always went off in the morning wearing a suit, drove a nice car, and lived alone. Anyway, nobody ever went to his house, it was regarded as futile.

Well, this particular Halloween I made a vow that I would hit every house on my own and adjacent blocks if someone appeared to be home, outside light on or not. Even the bachelor's digs.

When my buddies and I got to his house, the porch light was off, but there were lights on within. My friends backed off, but I strode boldly up to the door and knocked. Except for leaving off his suit jacket, the man who came to the door was pretty much wearing his work clothes: dress shirt and suit pants, tie, etc. He was holding a drink. The following conversation ensued:

"Yeah?"

"Trick or treat."

"Trick or treat? Is this Halloween?"

"Yeah."

He looked at me for a long moment, then: "Sure. Wait a sec. Come on in."

I stepped into the entryway, and saw he had guests: two well-dressed young women sitting in the living room, puffing on cigarettes and holding cocktails. They both nodded to me with slight smiles that just meant friendliness to me then, but several years later would have launched my hormones into orbit.

The man returned with something, dropped it into my bag (it was heavy, I noted), and sent me on my way. When I got outside, my friends were agog. "Did you get anything?" "Yeah, let's see."

We looked in my sack and found: a full, unopened, bottle of booze. I forget what brand it was, but it was a pint of whiskey.

When I got home, as I usually did, I shared my goodies with my parents. This was great for all of us, because then as now I rarely ate any sweet that wasn't chocolate, and they could enjoy the rest. When I (lyingly) explained that I didn't recall what house it came from, I had gone to so many, they at first expressed shock and dismay, then exchanged glances and told me they would dispose of the bottle. It quickly disappeared, but I don't think it went down the drain.

Halloween is still my favorite, although now I observe it in a different way. There are no trick-or-treaters coming to my door now, but I still lay in a modest supply of candy for my own consumption. (Ever try Reese's milk chocolate and peanut butter pumpkins? - to die for.) Then I settle in and spend the evening watching a horror movie, something in keeping with the situation. (Ghosts, monsters, vampires, werewolves, etc. are all okay, but no slasher flicks - too much like real life,)

This year I'm going Asian with Kwaidan, a 1964 collection of four classic Japanese ghost stories. I saw this about 40 years ago at a film festival and loved it. It's now available on DVD with English subtitles, and I can hardly wait. A good scare and lots of chocolate. What more could one want? Oh, yeah, maybe a couple of Manhattans.

I love Halloween.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Leave off the scary stuff and change the manhattans to margaritas - and I'm there!

No one ever gave me booze for Halloween.....LOL

What a unique happening...never heard of such a thing. Cheered us up on this cloudy day!

Booze for Trick-or-Treaters! What a concept. Must be something they do/did in the city.

My wife and I will be ready this evening with a more traditional assortment of tooth-rotting goodies.

I can remember knocking on houses where *gasp* a really old person lived, and being afraid to take their candy. (Could be witches, you know.) Unless the elder was someone I knew, I always threw the candy away once I hit the next yard.

Now, there's an ageism horror story for real.


I'm with Patty! We used to be afraid of the "OLD" people on our street.

We would "Throw out" to see who would have to go to their door first.

If that person came back alive and, better yet, with a piece of candy, then the rest of us felt it was safe to go there, too. If they were not giving candy, then they got a "Special Delivery" letter.

We would take white chalk and draw an envelope on their top step. Then we would ring their doorbell and shout "Special Delivery". Now we would hide in their bushes and watch as they stooped down and tried to pick up the chalk envelope.

We really thought this was funny.

Thanks, Deejay, for stirring up all these old memories. Sorry, Mrs. J. about the letter.

Oh, how I loved my Manhattans....but now I'll just take the chocolate. You bet I will try those Reeses. Thanks for turning us on to them. :)

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