Halloween City.


San Francisco turns orange about this time of year, every year, it seems. I don’t mean the Fall leaves. Fall doesn’t turn the leaves orange in these parts, for the most part. I satisfy that east coast craving by cruising foliage photos on Facebook. Apologies for the alliteration. Absolutely awful.

I associate all this annual orange with two things: The San Francisco Giants’ postseason success, and Halloween.

The former whips this town into a frenzy. I marvel as some of our more iconic pieces of architecture turn orange — City Hall, Coit Tower, the Embarcadero Buildings, the Ferry Building. The entire city loses its collective mind.

Case in point: My wife Hilary and I were drawing straws late last night over who would go investigate a loud banging in our garage. This morning’s Chronicle told me the clamor was due to fireworks set off on the waterfront at the end of a gala held last night for 2,000 Giants VIPs. Could’ve used a heads up, Mr. Baer. That way, I could’ve strode chest-puffed into my dark garage ready to take on the “intruder” with my bare hands and a half-chewed number 2 pencil, as my wife sat admiring her protector. “My hero.” Sigh.

Instead, I practically stuck my cold foot in Hilary’s low-back pushing her out of bed to go investigate. Think I also glowered at Wailea: “What the hell kind of watchdog are you? Don’t you hear that banging? Someone is out there! Sic ’em! Sic ’em!”

Alas, not a burglar. Nope. Just a couple thousand muckety-mucks getting their orange on. Tonight is game 3 of the 2014 World Series, after all. If the Giants win, I suppose I will gladly accept the ignominy of last night’s emasculation brought on by the fireworks masquerading as a neighborhood madman rummaging through our garage. Fair trade. No apology or reparations will be necessary, Mr. Baer.

The other thing I associate with all this orange is the season of Halloween. Man, I love it. I got it bad. After our family’s 3rd or 4th trip to one or another store, we finally had all the gear I needed to transform our postage-stamp sized front “lawn” into a terrifying graveyard: Three bags of spider webs stretched thinly. A dozen spiders scattered in threatening poses. Three spotlights (2 green). Three strobe lights, including one that blasts a looped sound recording imploring someone to “help me help me” every ten seconds or so. Three styrofoam headstones, one chiseled with a small skull, another with “RIP” and another in the shape of a medieval cross. A couple life-sized skulls, the deep-set eyes and broad foreheads a perfect surface on which to bounce the strobes’ blinking lights. And then the coup de grâce: Three black-hooded, hanging ghouls with blinking red eyes and upturned skeleton hands.

Used to be four ghouls, but one was stolen last Halloween. Cost of doing business; city living. And frankly, given that I deliberately affix and ensnare the ghouls deep into our prickly rose bushes, using a step ladder, no less, I have to tip my cap to the high-jumping bloody-handed thief who somehow managed to pilfer my ghoul. He must’ve wanted that red-eyed heebie jeebie pretty badly.

Just as I wanted that fog machine pretty badly. The one I stood before at the local Halloween City store yesterday afternoon, covetous. Practically drooling. Ignoring my 8 year-old’s plaintive half-whispers: “Dad, can we puuuleeeeazze get outta here? That clown is creeping me out.” I heard Everett, faintly, in the recesses of my mind. But I heard the word “clown” and figured Ev was overreacting. Or at least figured that he would not be permanently scarred by an encounter with a grinning clown. Not by the couple extra minutes I would need to do the math, weighing exactly how pissed Hilary would be by my introduction of an over-the-top fog machine against how ecstatic I would be to fire that bad boy up.

Everett’s increasingly-urgent tugs on my wrist snapped me back to reality. Reluctantly, I gave in to the sad fact that I would end up on the wrong side of the “greater than” sign as far as the fog machine calculus would go. So I satisfied myself by impulse-purchasing a couple black light spotlight bulbs. (The same ones that would later burn off my fingerprints in my ill-advised attempt to install the bulbs in our backyard.)

On the way out the front door, I followed Everett’s bugged out eyes and snuck a look at the creepy clown. I was wrong. Ev will definitely be scarred.


Thanks for reading.

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