Damn that Linus!!!
We sat sentinel in that suburban sprawl all night waiting for the Great Monster Garage to rise on Halloween Night this year and it was all for not. While the spooky specter helped haunt last year’s festivities – this year it remained dead and buried.
For those who know exactly what I’m talking about, I’ll simply say that while our Halloween festivities were very enjoyable this year, they definitely felt a little bit subdued after the highs of last year. It’s hard to top stumbling upon a makeshift gore-atorium while needling your friend’s neighbors for Nestle’s Crunch. And for those who haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, hit this link to locate all the gory details about the once glorious Monster Garage.
That said – I don’t think the kids missed it one bit. In fact, in the days leading up to Halloween, Colin and Aria would talk excitedly about the big night but would always offer up a disclaimer and then to make sure I got the message, a pointed post script too – “Daddy – I want to go to every house… BUT it’s OK to skip that scary one“. I’d say that homeowner cobbled quite a creepshow when my kids are vexed to this very day. I mean, we haven’t breathed one word of that fateful night in this house, aside for what I jotted down in print, and yet one year later, the ghost lingers in their subconscious. So, to you, phantom homeowner, I tip my cap and redirect their future psychotherapy bills in your general direction.
While the kids may have breathed a sigh of relief when we turned the corner to that street and were met with the same throngs of Trick r’ Treaters minus the rhythmic echo of screams emanating from that dude’s house of a couple corpses, I can’t say I shared their enthusiasm. The way that family went all out in homage to Samhein was fantastic and it made me pine for a similar nighborhood, one where everyone dropped their nine-to-five concerns and just reveled in the good, old fashioned fun of the holiday. As we made our way down the street, you could tell the topic was fresh on our fellow traveler’s minds, as every few feet I could parse snippets of conversation with one neighbor providing intel to some Grand Inquisitor as to what manner of weapon managed to fell the Monster Garage. From what I could glean, it appears that the main course (i.e. the haunted house) was just fine, but the icing on top in the form of a chainsaw-wielding maniac bursting from the bushes and offering up one final scare, thus sending hordes of pre-tweens scrambling to the street, didn’t sit well with the local constable. They harrassed him a fair bit afterward and therefore the guy went on strike.
As much as I cursed that creep for coloring my kid’s dreamscapes with several shades of doom and gloom, it was all in good fun. A healthy scare. So, shame on the force for taking the fun out of the night. Bear in mind – this particular neighborhood is a sprawling stretch of picture-perfect suburbia. Wide sidewalks bordering wider streets – a rarity in this day and age – and both thoroughfares absolutely packed with enough juvenile ghouls and goblins to stock a reperatory production of Dawn of the Dead. Any cars daring to make their escape between the officially sanctioned Trick r’ Treating hours of 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. EST are going to find that they’d gain greater forward momentum by going in reverse. Any kids scared into the streets are simply gonna’ bounce off these cars and right back into the hands of the chainsaw wielding maniac. Perfectly safe!
Alas, the cops cancelled Creature Double Feature and likely have their eyes set on stealing Christmas too. I’m sure a neighbor or two complained and it shouldn’t be hard to pinpoint the perps – as there were only 2 or 3 of the 80-odd houses that had their lights dimmed both years. What type of Scrooge seeks asylum in suburbia, anyway? If you are going to live smack dab in the midst of the American Dream, you better be prepared for street-bound whiffle ball games, all day block parties, the occasional desperate housewife and the annual Halloween haunts.
Oh well, despite the monster’s demise, the kids had a great time. Like I said, I think its disappearance bothered me more than it did them and I know they breathed a sigh of relief when they knew they could continue hunting Hershey’s without fear that that they were gonna’ lose their Skittles the second some masked maniac pounced at them. And that made me happy, knowing that my little astronaut and his fair Snow White were free to focus on more pressing matters – which would be gathering enough candy that it would take them days before they realized their Mom and Dad had been illicitly skimming off the top of their jam-packed Jack-o-Lanterns.
So, the night was a good one and eventually we were able to retire to the Dudley House of Pizza – our constant refuge after the annual candy corn harvest. We went there two years ago, when Halloween fell midweek, and since then Colin has insisted that we always cap the night with a warm pizza pie and a generous serving of onion rings to celebrate the night and bid the Great Pumpkin a fond adieu. While the winds were approaching gale force by the time we hit the last house, I was able to make it out of there with both kids and most importantly, their sacks of sucrose, completely intact.
The one element we were missing that night is Andi who had to work that evening. This was the first Halloween Trick r’ Treat she missed so we made a point of procuring her favorite treat and before heading to the restaurant for our own sustenance, we popped in to hand deliver a Butterfinger. Seeing Snow White and her moon man darken the doorway at Eighty-Ates brightened her eyes and she was thrilled to catch sight of her costumed critters. Eighty-Ates was hosting a Halloween Party later that night so Andi was decked on in a 50’s themed poodle skirt and apparently raking in some decent coin, so the sacrifice was worth it.
Also, we had made a point of planning a little family festivity the day prior in order to pay homage to the holiday as one – which also helped take the sting away from missing out on the sugar search. On the Friday before, Colin’s school had a previously scheduled in-service day which meant he had the day off. We decided to head to neighboring Sturbridge to check out the village green, which had been decked out with all manner of scarecrows. It’s an annual rite performed there, where various families and clubs cobble together their most creative concoction and plant it on the green for display as well as the big contest. The scarecrows are left up for the full month and they are judged the week prior to Halloween. By the time we arrived, the winner had been announced and it was The Coffee Shop of Horrors that took first prize. Other favorites included Boo Man Group and a mammoth contraption with a TV for a head.
Anyway, we had a great time that day, and we capped it with lunch and then a visit to the bakery that stands just behind the green. This seems to be my year of discovery. Five years in this neck of the woods and I am just now discovering all of these great haunts, including the local brew pub I found this past Summer. Well, one look through this bakery and we all settled on our favorite treats. Aria grabbed a chocolate frosted brownie, Colin a mammoth M&M-laced cookie, Andi a rasperry turnover and me the same, only made with apple. For my money, there is no better Fall treat than that made with warm cinnamon and apples. Unless, it’s Pumpkinhead ale in which case, I declare a draw.
With our treats returned to home, and a cup of tea for her and coffee for me, Andi and I settled back and dove into our indulgence while the kids played happily in the playroom and conspired over their costumed antics to come. Knowing full well that Halloween weekend heralds the most wonderful time of the year – as the family holidays of Thansgiving and Christmas race towards us with reckless abandon – we toasted the season and settled back – content in the knowledge that despite the curveballs tossed our way this year, we’ve got a great family and thus, we’ve got it pretty good.