Monday, November 2, 2009

Review of Halloween

I don’t care much for Halloween. I know a lot of people really get into it, which I’ve never quite understood. For kids, sure, it makes sense. Knock on doors and get free candy. What could be better? But for adults, the appeal seems to be for women an excuse to dress like hookers and for men an excuse to look at women dressed like hookers. Which, I guess could be as appealing as free candy now that I think about it.

Part of my problem with Halloween is that adults have a hard time finding the right balance. I mean, if you’re an adult, and you’re going to dress up, you need to actually dress up. None of this putting on a black headband and expecting people to know that makes you a ninja stuff.

Or if you really are going to dress up, be sensible about it. No wearing a black cloak and carrying a stick and painting a scar on your forehead thereby coming clean about the fact that you are way more into Harry Potter than is healthy. I don’t want to know that. Dress up as something that’s not part of your weird, delusional, fantasy world psychosis, because I’ll never think of you the same if you don’t.

And if you go to a church party where there are lots of little kids, don’t dress in a gorilla suit and mask and walk around scaring two-year-olds. And then, if the dad of one of the two-year-olds, whose daughter is petrified and clinging to him as if to save her life, asks you to take the mask off, don’t shove the mask in the two-year-old’s face as if that’s going to make her OK with it. Because if you do that again, I will punch you in the nose rather than restraining myself like I did this time. Even the six-year-olds were scared by the creep in the gorilla suit, as evidenced by Jonnie J’s daughter who wrote (in six-year-old spelling) “I’m scared of the gorilla” in crayon on the paper table cloth.

This lack of sense some adults seem to have when they put on a costume is precisely why I’m not a fan of Halloween. It’s worse than if they were drunk. And if they get drunk, watch out.

On the other hand, Halloween did afford some good times this year. First, I got to blow off significant steam after the gorilla incident on Rick’s Helloween ride. Seeing Aaron dressed as an 80’s hair metal rocker, singing “Kick Start My Heart” as he rode the pipe,* was the highlight of the event.

*The “pipe” is a section of trail where there’s concrete-covered water pipe that’s about a foot wide and drops at about a 30% grade for 25 feet or so. It’s rideable, but in the two times in my life I’ve ridden that trail, I’ve never tried it. Most people walk that section.

The ride itself was challenging for me without even thinking about riding the pipe. I blew up in the first 100 yards deluding myself that I could contend for the cash. Then I had a metallic taste in my mouth for the next hour as we climbed endlessly at race pace. Then I had the impression that we were going to keep climbing and suddenly somehow end up at the parking lot without ever descending. Then we descended and the trails were somehow steeper than what we went up and I was scared for my life because I was wholly unfamiliar with them, they seemed to drop off hundreds of feet on one side, my light sucks, and I still don't have my mojo back after the crash. Then we were back at the car and I realized I had thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Most people were in costume, with two notable exceptions. First was Kyle, who won the cash. I thought you had to be in costume to win, not that it would have made much difference. The dude can climb. Second was Mike Young. Someone asked him why he didn’t dress up and he said something like “I don’t know. Couldn’t think of anything.” When it was suggested he dress up as his brother he responded “Huh. Never thought of that. That one would be easy too, since I already have his jersey and pants.”

I guess that’s how it is. To you and me, Steve’s a Hall of Famer, Super Bowl MVP, and Monday Night Football analyst. But when he’s the guy that gave you noogies* growing up, he remains first and foremost the guy who gave you noogies and not much else. Nice perspective.

*Inevitably, one of you, probably one with no older brothers or who has older brothers but who knows noogies by a different name (I’m sure there are regional variations), doesn’t know what a noogie is. It’s when someone, typically your older brother, puts you in a head lock and rubs his knuckles on your scalp. I can’t imagine they feel good, but since I’m the oldest brother, I have much more experience giving than receiving.

Believe it or not, I’m eleven paragraphs into my review of Halloween, and it was just barely officially Halloween when the ride ended and we headed to Denny’s. The actual day brought a great deal of dread because I knew we’d have to take the kids trick-or-treating.

I know it defeats the purpose, but I would much rather just buy the candy and give it to my kids than take them door-to-door for it. Besides, that way, all we would buy would be butterfingers and heath bars and snickers and reeses cups, which my kids like less than I do. Fewer cavities and more treats for me and no two-year-olds throwing up in bed on Halloween night.

On second thought, that’s a bad idea, since one of the reasons I dislike Halloween is that it’s the beginning of my annual weight gain. The combination of lots of sweets and limited daylight hours in which to burn them off usually always results in my waistline expanding a few inches and my weight going up about ten pounds between Halloween and whenever I start dieting in the spring. I try to keep it under control, but Halloween is followed closely by Thanksgiving, which involves pie, the first thing against which I am powerless. Thanksgiving is followed by the season of giving, and the giving usually involves cookies, the second thing against which I am powerless.

Anyway, I’m never real thrilled about the idea of trick-or-treating. Except this year, my kids wanted to go with their cousins, so we went to my sister’s house to trick-or-treat in her neighborhood. I actually have no idea how her neighborhood compares to mine, since this was our first year in our neighborhood and we went elsewhere, but I can’t imagine any neighborhood being better.

Her kids told me that one of the neighbors gives out soup. I told them we could skip that house, because I thought that was lame. Until I got there. She didn’t just hand out candy, she invited us all in, where she had hot soup and cider on the stove as well as an array of cheeses and crackers and veggies. She gave the kids candy and toys and glow sticks, and I left thinking trick-or-treating was cool.

Not to be outdone, a couple blocks away, my sister’s dentist was in his front yard with a fire in the firepit, hot cocoa, and hot dogs on the grill. The kids sat by the fire and ate hot dogs while he made sure my sis’s father-in-law’s root canal was doing OK. Then I found out he was also a Big Ten guy, so we talked about our mutual hatred of Ohio State, even as some fat kid in an Ohio State hoodie ate his second and third of generous dentist’s hot dogs.

Finally, when the kids’ candy bags were approaching the too-heavy-for-them-to-carry point, we got to the best house of the evening. As we approached the door, we were informed that this friend was a fantastic cook and also a reader of Rachel’s blog.

When the door opened, I could smell something frying. As we chatted, we talked about food and Rachel’s blog, and fantastic cook neighbor mentioned she was making spudnuts. She offered us one, which my sister and wife tried to decline because they are not as sensible as I am and were aware that they had already eaten plenty of junk for the evening.

I accepted the invitation, so we all went in. Again, the girls foolishly took half a spudnut, but I took a whole spudnut. They took a half thinking that if it didn’t live up to hopes and expectations, they wouldn’t be stuck with the whole thing. I knew if it didn’t live up to hopes and expectations that we were leaving anyway, and I could throw it in the gutter. Because if food doesn’t taste as good as I want it to and the effort of burning the calories is greater than the satisfaction their consumption brings, I have no qualms about throwing treats in the trash. Or in the gutter or bushes or neighbor’s backyard as the case may be.

I wish I could have snuck a second one without looking like a pig. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. Fortunately, Rachel has been promised the recipe, and I suspect it will make its way onto her blog. They were dense and heavy and had to have had a whole lot of calories, but they were delicious. Fried food is challenging because if the oil temperature isn’t just right, it can either be soggy and soaked with oil or burned on the outside and raw in the middle. These were perfect. And if she’s making them again next year, perhaps I’ll look forward to Halloween.

Either that, or we’ll have hot dogs, soup, and spudnuts at the ready at our house so that people in our neighborhood go from haters to evangelical about trick-or-treating in one night. The guy in the gorilla suit will not be invited in, though.


  1. "Dress up as something that’s not part of your weird, delusional, fantasy world psychosis"

    Okay, maybe next year. Maybe.

  2. Jamie gives out full size candy bars. I hear it is good for business.

  3. Rant week part 2! Excellent.

  4. I'll go on record as liking Halloween. It's got a totally different vibe than all the other holidays. The kids love pumpkin carving, dressing up and trick-or-treating. But then I look at the photo of my costume this year and have to admit you make some good points.

  5. Plan on us showing up at your house next year.

  6. Starting line photos of Helloween at: