It’s heeeere. Halloween Month. Round about mid-September, I start mentally zeroing in on the location of last year’s Halloween decorations cache. The previous November, it’s just “get this shit boxed up and downstairs ASAP before ours is the sole remaining cobwebbed front door on the block.” Thanksgiving and Christmas involves a similar routine; layers of holiday decorations boxed and rotated. Easter doesn’t really figure into the equation.
Come late Summer, after the Cape’s Great Whites, memories of apple cider, orange fallen leaves, and scaring the bejesus out of my childhood buddies move to the fore of my consciousness. The group texting banter picks up in earnest, each of us reminding the other of the time this one soiled his pants, the other one fell out of a tree, two of us locked eyes in a “this is it” moment while a haunted house actor gave chase with a buzzing chainsaw. The chainsaw had no chain. I think we knew that. But it didn’t matter.
These odd traditions slowly jog my recollection as to where in the dusty garage I might find the Halloween paraphernalia. The accumulated boxes grow each year. Of course we need those hanging ghouls with the blinking red eyeballs. Might as well grab a half-dozen styrofoam tomb stones. Strobe light? Is it green? Hell yes, throw that into the cart as well. Damn right we need a couple more bags of cobwebs. If the postman is able to penetrate the front gate to leave our junk mail, we just haven’t done our job. I half expect to find our man spun into a faux-silk cocoon, helpless, mouth open and pepper spray canister unsheathed and useless. That’s the goal at least.
I know this may sound completely over-the-top. My long-suffering wife would likely agree with that sentiment. Particularly in that awkward era between marriage and having kids old enough to appreciate Dad’s Madness this time of year every year. Sort of hard to justify setting up a terrifying porch with Jack O’Lantern heads balanced on scarecrow bodies, all triggered for jump scares, while my little ones sit idly by puckering on their pacifiers. Too young to appreciate my artistry. Possibly a little freaked out, even, that Daddy is wearing a short skirt, dangly earrings, and deep red lipstick. Isn’t that Mommy’s dress? Nothing that can’t be worked out down the line on a therapist’s couch, I tell myself.
One day, I hope, they will catch up with me.
Fast forward several years and a couple fistfuls of baby teeth. Earlier this week, I walked my 4th grader to the morning bus stop, passing by our tiny plot of bushes and bark chips that serves as a makeshift graveyard once a year. My little man paused and said, “Dad, isn’t it about time to get the fog machine out?” Indeed it is, Evie. Indeed it is.
Thanks for reading.