October has wound down to its final hours, and in keeping with the American passion for Ridiculous Seasonal Obsessions, it’s time to celebrate Hallowe’en.
I used to love Hallowe’en as a kid. What was not to like? You walked around the neighborhood, collecting sugarrific swag. Then you went home, dumped out the contents of your sack, made a cursory check for hidden razor blades, and ate until you retched. Not to mention those great costumes...
I recall that there was one house at which children were invited inside for hot apple cider and donuts. An elderly couple lived there, a couple who evidently had not gotten the memo. Donuts? Cider? Pfaugh! Where the hell are the Zagnut bars?
Nowadays, anyone who invited kids into their home on Hallowe’en for cider and donuts would most likely be arrested. Or sued. Possibly murdered. Or all three. But as an adult, I miss those simpler times when that kind of hospitality wasn’t flat-out creepy.
Now, I look forward to Hallowe’en like most people look forward to a high colonic. [I mean normal people. I’m aware that there are plenty of people who enjoy that sort of thing. Perverts.] This is mainly because we live in a neighborhood that has plenty of little kids. And that means getting up and answering the Gawd-damned doorbell every 3.2 seconds. Gets in the way of my TV watching and general ass-sitting activities.
OK, some of the little rug-rats are cute, I’ll give ’em that much. But once they’re over (say) six years old, they shouldn’t need prodding as to the Basic Elements of the Ritual:
1. Ring doorbell.
2. Say “Trick or treat!” This part - the Announcement of Purpose - is important. Gratuitous comments about smelling one’s feet and/or giving one something good to eat are permissible but not required.
3. Hold out sack or other container.
4. Receive candy.
5. Say “Thank you.” This part is also important, lest you grow up to be a Big Honkin’ Ass-Hole™.
It ain’t complicated, folks.
Oh, yeah. One other rule at Chez Elisson: Do not ask for UNICEF money. A formerly worthy organization, UNICEF is part and parcel of
And after you turn thirteen, it’s time to knock off the trick-or-treating activities. Hordes of teenagers wandering the ’hood on Hallowe’en night make me a little nervous. That’s because I was once a teenager, and I remember the kind of hell we used to raise. Once your voice changes and you start to grow hair on your face (guys, this means you, too), you can go bag groceries at the local Publix to earn your candy.
With all this said, there’s really only one thing I miss about the H-days of old. Having grown up in the Northeast, I like the fall weather. Cold. Crisp. Leaves turning their fall colors. And Hallowe’en is just not the same down South when it’s like as not over 70 degrees. Here in Georgia, the evenings this time of the year usually are cool, but the blast-furnace summer of 2016 puts me in mind of Houston - Sweat City - our home in the 1990’s, where it conceivably could be over 80 degrees on Hallowe’en. To me, the combination of Hallowe’en and the Texas heat never really worked... and that’s what inspired me to write this poem, which I trot out like clockwork this time of year:
Hallowe’en in Houston[Adapted from a post originally published in October 2004.]
Yes, Climate Does Make a Difference
It’s Hallowe’en in Houston: the sweat is on the pumpkin
And children dress as monsters in the heat.
They stalk the stifling streets and visit every city bumpkin
Ringing doorbells, shouting “Trick or treat!”
The torrid Texas towns are filled with tiny ghouls and ghosts
With Fahrenheit approaching 93 -
They look much less like children, and more like little roasts
Extorting molten Hershey bars from me.
I remember in New England, where the temperatures were frigid,
A chilly Hallowe’en would mark the season.
You’d go collecting candy and come home all icy rigid -
It just ain’t spooky if you aren’t freezin’!