Tag Archives: Halloween

Why Halloween Is Just Really Weird

It’s just about Halloween, that time of year when tricks and treats and spooks and scares dominate stores and social media. It’s a fun fall tradition—mostly if you’re a kid, of course—but have you ever really thought about how weird most of this stuff is?

Of course you haven’t, so I’m here to do it for you.

hauntedhouse

Haunted Houses

Let’s start here because the fact of the matter is that people are paying a minimum of $20 to wander through a darkened establishment in which aspiring actors dressed as creepy clowns and ghouls jump out and attempt to scare them. Any other time of year this would most likely result in attempted assault/harassment charges and a stint in a much scarier house—the big house.

But in October? Fun! Let’s pay strangers to freak us out! I don’t need to do that. You know what scares me in equal measure for no cost at all? The psychotic level of excitement parents have in eating their kids’ Halloween candy, Facebook notifications that I’m tagged in a picture, sneezing while driving, or losing the Internet for more than five minutes.

In other words, if I want candy, costumes and creepiness, I can go to WalMart and wander among the shoppers any day of the week.

Apple Bobbing

Let’s fill a giant basin with water, throw in fruit, tie peoples’ hands behind their backs, and shove their face into the water in an attempt to force them to grab the apples with only their teeth.

In other words, it’s waterboarding for fruit. Let’s move on.

Decorating

I covered Halloween décor last year, but in October those cobwebs in your house normally considered something to be removed are now festive and fun. And while hanging a skeleton or ghost from a tree in August would put you on the Neighborhood Watch list, it’s now a sign that you’re a house that probably passes out candy come Oct. 31 instead of turning off the light and hiding behind the couch to ignore the doorbell (hypothetically speaking.)

That’s right. You can dress up as a sexy nurse and hand out candy to children and not wind up on “To Catch a Predator.” Just put a wreath on your door and leave your porch light on for the little beggars.

Corn Mazes

My internal GPS is MIA and I get lost in a walk-in closet. In other words, the idea of wandering through a maze of maize with strangers bumping into me while we all try and find our way out before desperately gnawing on a corn cob in desperation for our survival isn’t at the top of my list. I’ve done it before, and the only way I’ll pay money to do it again is if at the end I’m awarded with an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and luxury spa.

Pumpkin Carving

The fact that they sell pre-cut apples and butternut squash, pre-hardboiled eggs, and “Uncrustables” at the store proves that people have become ridiculously lazy when it comes to prepping food.

However, when it comes to Halloween, people round up the troops and often trek through pumpkin patches—pumpkin spice latte in hand— to pick out a giant fruit they will festively disembowel over the span of several hours, bent scooping spoons, and broken carving knives.

They will then shove a candle inside and leave it neglected on the porch until it looks like a toothless meth addict before throwing it behind the fence for the squirrels to enjoy.

But with all that said, tradition is important and Halloween kicks of the holiday season—for better or worse with that whole statement—and gets you prepared to fist a bird carcass for Thanksgiving and hang old socks on the fireplace for Christmas (or whatever it is that you celebrate.)

For now, Happy Haunting!

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Sarah from “Est. 1975” Has Issues

First of all, Happy Halloween! As we’ve discussed, I’m not exactly into this holiday that much. In fact, this year I think I’ll just go as either “Gluten” so people avoid me or “Life” and just hand out lemons.

But there is one brave blogger who agreed to spill her issues here on this day of tricks and treats. I’ve only recently “met” her, but she won me over a couple of months ago with this post (read it after this one, of course, as right now it’s all about me.)

Actually, it isn’t. It’s all about Sarah, so here she is, my friends!

Sarah2 Name: Sarah

Blog: est. 1975

Where, what and why do you write?

Where: I write 99.99 percent of my material in bed. I put a shit ton of pillows up against the headboard and then I lean back and just do it to it. The only downside is that I get laptop burns on my legs if I’m not wearing pants. Which is more often than I’d like to admit. And also right now.

What: Most of my writing is of the comic variety but I have been known to branch out into other genres, particularly when publishing work on websites other than my own blog. I stick to the funny stuff on est. 1975 though, because I’m pretty sure my fans would hunt me down with fiery Internet torches if I didn’t.

Why: I write because it’s the only thing I’m even remotely good at.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning.

“Waking up is bullsh*t and I hate it.”

What’s the one “issue” or frustration annoying you the most right now?

Funny answer: About six months ago I started to inexplicably sweat a lot. Like a LOT. Through the armpits of my T-shirts, my underwear, the bottoms of my socks, etc. And the deodorant? IT DOES NOTHING.

Serious answer: I have a massive issue with social media. I hate it. I really, really hate it. And yet I absolutely rely on it to market myself, my blog and my freelance writing/editing business. I feel like I spend more hours of the day on social media than I do participating in anything else, and that bums me out worse than stinkbugs.

(Editor’s note: Amen. I use it for fun, but I hate feeling like I “have” to use it so I will forever be a peon and continue to use it selfishly for fun. I tried the serious thing and I’M STILL NOT RICH AND FAMOUS. Anyway, I have to think stinkbugs might be a problem given your sweating profusion? )

Three websites you visit every day.

I mentioned how I rely on social media for marketing and promotion, right? So I bet you can guess that my sad answer is Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

What’s an unusual talent and/or accomplishment you could never put on a resume?

I can crack an egg with one hand, and I don’t even get any shell in the bowl. Well, maybe one tiny piece.

Favorite place to be?

My bedroom. Unless there are stinkbugs in it. In which case I want to be as far away from my bedroom as possible.

If you could rule the land for one day, what laws would you create and enforce?

  1. Every time anyone looks at their cell phone while driving, they have to pay me $5.
  2. Delusions of grandeur are forbidden.
  3. No stinkbugs.

(Editor’s note: Not to be rude, but I’m noticing a preoccupation with stink bugs, which might be something to explore in your next therapy session.)

What TV show would you want to appear on?

BBC’s Sherlock because Benedict Cumberbatch.

Best and worst things I could find in your refrigerator right now?                              

Best? A million of those little flavored milks.

Worst? Everything else.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what would be your reply?

“What are the three things you hate to do the most?”

This is a tough one because I hate to do so very many things. But okay, I’ll give it a shot. I think I‘d have to start off with laundry. Laundry is the ultimate “f*** you” household chore – it requires an unappealing amount of physical labor, there are way too many different mechanisms by which things can go wrong and worst of all, it is a chore that never really ends.

I also hate making phone calls to people I don’t know. Like SO MUCH. I have to seriously consider questions like this on an almost daily basis: “Would I rather call the dentist and make an appointment? Or would I rather let all of my teeth rot out of my head just so I don’t have to talk to some strange woman on the phone? Hmm. What to do, what to do.”

(Me again: Holy heck, yes. Although I would say “making phone calls to people” and not just limit it to people that I don’t know.)

The third thing that I hate to do the most is let a holiday go by without some sort of acknowledgement. So because today is Halloween, I wrote a limerick for you all to enjoy:

There once was a Halloween witch,

Whose cackle would make your eye twitch,

She had warts on her nose,

And 17 toes,

So she turned into one cranky bi*ch.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

In the spirit of the holiday, spill it: Best and worst Halloween candy? Best and worst costume you’ve worn? 

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Things That Scare Me More Than Halloween

As the plethora of pumpkins and décor would indicate, we’re getting closer to Halloween. And while I’m not really a Scrooge, I’m also not that into the holiday anymore.

I write about Halloween five months out of the year for one of my magazines at work, and if I want candy, costumes and creepiness, I can go to WalMart and wander among the shoppers any day of the week.

Plus, a lot of the “scary” things associated with the day like skulls, witches and spiders—okay, I’ll give you that last one—don’t really scare me at all. Even the stray black cat that hangs out here crossing my path doesn’t spook me at all, (although mouthing “you’re screwed” and giving me the finger when it walked by just seemed rude.)

Anyway, I even did the haunted house thing a couple of years ago but decided that I would never again pay $20 for people to jump out and yell at me when there were things in my daily adult life that scare me even more—for free.

halloween

Getting a notification that I’ve been tagged in a Facebook picture without having any idea what picture it is.

Sneezing while driving.

Seeing a picture of myself as a toddler in a bathing suit and realizing my boobs are still the same size.

Getting my mortgage statement.

Touching the remote control at the gym, or worse, being stuck on a cardio machine near someone who evidently marinated in Axe cologne.

Being selected as either Dr. Oz’s assistant of the day or “going to Flavortown” with Guy Fieri.

People without a sense of humor.

Seeing a bug inside, running to get a paper towel to dispose of the bug, and coming back to find the bug has since departed to regions now unknown.

Losing the Internet for more than five minutes.

Using a toilet away from home and having it refuse to flush.

Eating the last bite of something without realizing I just ate the last bite of something. I am never more emotionally unprepared.

Going to feed the birds and having a mouse jump out of the birdseed bag.

Three words: Company Teambuilding Activity

Accidentally hitting the switch for the garbage disposal instead of the light above the sink.

Trying on a shirt in a dressing room—scary enough as it is—but then getting stuck in said shirt, providing the security cameras with a panic-filled performance of attempted removal.

Typos.

Having to touch a bathroom door handle, noticing it’s wet, and not knowing if it’s because someone washed their hands or if they didn’t. (Thank god for hand sanitizer.)

My grandma trying to hook me up with the new 90-year-old resident at the home because, “I can’t afford to be picky anymore.”

Realizing more people will read a Buzzfeed quiz in one day to find out what their “Spirit Vegetable” is than will read my whole blog/books in a year.

(For the record, I would be a Brussels sprout—often steamed and rather bitter.)

So as you can see, Halloween really has nothing on my general day-to-day neurosis. Bring it on, Freddy Krueger. Bring it on.

What would you add to your list?

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Halloween Décor for the Domestically Disabled

It’s officially fall now, which means women ages 21-45 have become pumpkin zealots and that Halloween is just around the corner.

So to help you prepare for the holiday season and prove you don’t have to spend a fortune to be festive, I’m sharing my absolutely finite wisdom.

decor

First of all, we’ll start inside. Stop dusting your house right now.* By avoiding the removal of dust, you will accumulate a layer of spookiness and cobwebs that people pay good money to artificially replicate.

*This does not apply to me, of course, as I have to dust everything every weekend—OCD trumps festiveness.

Once you’ve set the mood, there are simple household objects that can make cheap and easy decorations with minimal effort.

For example, if you put a tiny cape on a staple remover—and possibly some googly eyes if you’re really feeling ambitious— you have a quick and easy vampire decoration.

And what Halloween scene would be complete without a ghost or two? Considering my penchant for delightful smells, I suggest you pull double duty and simply drape a gel air freshener with a napkin, add a couple of eyes and voila! A spooky scented spirit to delight the masses. If you’re lucky, the “trick or treat” aroma will mask the slight odor of broken dreams and steamed broccoli that’s wafting through your kitchen.

If you’re only concerned with the external appearance of your home, cease all yard work two weeks ago and move to the next point below.

There have been orange construction cones just down my street for the past month or so (evidently they’re not in a hurry to finish whatever they’re doing.) And while most people simply see an annoyance, I see cheap Halloween candy corn decorations for my lawn.

Now I am in no way suggesting you (allegedly) take something that doesn’t belong to you, but if a strong wind happens to blow a couple cones your way—along with the leaves from your yard into the neighbor’s—that’s simply nature’s way of getting into the holiday spirit.

True, suggesting that you paint them to be exact replicas of the waxy candy might make things look suspicious, but most people will be too impressed with your creative prowess to be upset at the borrowing of said cone —allegedly.

In fact, they will probably stand in your yard clapping so hard it will set off the lame motion-sensored Halloween witch the other neighbors PAID for and put out.

Amateurs.

Once your house and yard are set, it’s time to prepare to pass out the treats. Candy can be expensive, and given the fact that everyone else passes out candy—not very creative, now are we?—I have a much more economical and creative solution.

Sometimes you even get jelly and jams.

Set yourself apart from the crowd by passing out more practical samples treats you’ve accumulated throughout the year. Traveling? Make sure to stock up on things like shampoos, hand wipes, coffee packets and jelly from the hotel room.

Stuck waiting in the doctor’s office? Cotton balls, tongue depressors and plastic gloves (do not give to children under age 3) make for hours of creative artistic play.

This step also requires a bit of planning, but if you start now you can be set for next Halloween. And while the kids might not initially realize the benefit of these alternative treats, when their hands are sticky from egging your house, they’ll certainly appreciate the hand wipes.

Happy Haunting.

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Blinded By the Light

I had to go to the eye doctor last week.

My old one retired and I had been putting it off, but I decided to be an adult and go get a check-up, if only to see if they offered new lenses that could filter out everyone’s Instagram selfies or give me that sexy librarian look.

No and no, by the way.

Anyway, what they tell you:

Bring along the paperwork with your contact information, (lack of) vision insurance data and any family history of glaucoma, cataracts or having their eyes poked out with a sharp stick back in the 50s—or something extensively similar along those lines.

What they don’t tell you:

Everyone who works in the office will wear glasses. I don’t know if they’re unaware that contacts exist or if they only hire people with eye issues as to appear sympathetic to patients, but even the fish in the tank will have little sea spectacles so as to better see the algae they’re gumming.

Unlike other doctor visits, it is not—I repeat NOT—necessary to strip down to your underwear in the exam room while waiting for the doctor to see you. Good to know for next time.

The doctor will attempt—and temporarily succeed—to turn you into a demented X-Men/vampire character.

I wasn’t aware that was part of the deal, but after the exam he tilted my head back, put in two different kinds of drops, gave me a tissue and told me he would be back in 10 minutes once my eyes dilated.

I returned my head to the upright position and had the strange sensation of my eyes leaking — I think sensitive people call this “crying”— and I wiped away artificially-dyed yellow tears.

I sat there waiting with burning and blurring eyes until he came back, jammed a flashlight into my face and declared me in good optical health. In fact, I didn’t even need to get new glasses.

At this point in the darkened room I had no idea I was in the middle of a mutant transformation. He warned me that the light would be bright walking out, and I resisted the urge to ask him if water in the sink would be wet. It seemed like an obvious statement. Light is bright. Thanks for the tip, there buddy!

Until I walked into the wall.

Once the door was opened and I was thrust into the light, I felt like a vampire pulled from my cave. I bounced off the wall like a ping-pong ball as he gently guided my arm to the desk where I paid for the bruise on my head and the yellow tears in my eyes.

I stumbled to the car, quickly slipped on my sunglasses and let my eyes adjust for a bit before driving. And I waited—at least a good two or three minutes—and then took a look at myself in the mirror.

GAH!

Not only was my one coat of mascara washed off, but I had become a creature with yellow corneas, dilated pupils so large only a tiny strip of green iris was left and the vision of Mr. Magoo. Great for Halloween, not so much for doing things like being seen in public or seeing anything in general.

I realized I could see far away but not up close, so I quickly slipped my sunglasses back on (out of necessity) and made my way to the gas station where my lack of clear vision up close resulted in spending an extra $10 just trying to get the pump to end on an even amount.

Once I finally arrived back home and determined it was not in fact a giant rat in my kitchen but the cat—a cat that took one look at my eyes and went running away—I shut all the blinds, slipped on my sunglasses and stumbled onto the couch.

Now I’m not saying I needed Wolverine’s claws—I’m clumsy with a butter knife—but I did kind of want a new power to go with my dilated pupils. Heck, I would have settled for eyelashes that didn’t get stuck in my eye.

Way to do your job and keep crap out of my eye, eyelashes!

But I guess I’ll settle for the return of “normal” eyes, the ability to go out in the sun and a Halloween costume idea–a vegan vampire. 

Works for me.

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Stop, Drop and Roll

I’m hoping this fall wreath I put on my door says “Festive/I will dive behind the couch if you knock on the door and I’m not expecting you.”

wreath

The truth is that I might be a Publisher’s Clearing House million dollar winner if not for the fact that I perform a death roll behind the furniture the second I hear the doorbell.

Why?

Because I’m most likely not wearing any makeup and smell like garlic hummus, which means even if the UPS man is hot, it won’t do me any good. But also because there’s a chance someone is selling something—be it cookie dough or religion—and I don’t have an interest in either.

It’s bad enough that a couple weeks from now a gang of cute little ghosts and skanky tween witches will come begging me for chocolate covered cavities, but the appetizer to their desperate pleas is to show up on my doorstep with an 80-page catalog full of overpriced things that make the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog look like a Walmart flier.

This just in: I don’t need a $14 roll of wrapping paper that covers about one small shoebox.

I don’t blame them for being forced to raise money. When I was little we went door-to-door selling sub sandwiches for a class trip that probably included name tags, room mothers trying not to lose kids/their sanity and someone puking on the bus coming home.

But back then the business of fundraising was different. We were motivated to sell for little trinket rewards and bragging rights and neighbors could get five sandwiches for a 10-spot.

Now the parents take this catalog to work with them and leave an order form passive aggressively on the break room table, the result of a) an understandable fear of sending their kids out to strangers b) laziness on the part of the kids or c) the fact that a 1st grader can’t carry the weight of an 80-page catalog.

And while I think the exposure to rejection would be good for the kids to get used to—welcome to the real world, my friends—I think a better way to teach them responsibility would be to send them around selling things we actually need like mini bottles of alcohol or coupons to clean my gutters or the cat’s shit box.

That I might pay for.

The point is that while I have no problem telling them I’m not interested, I don’t want to have to hear about how someone from their church needs a kidney that she’ll only receive if I buy six tubs of cookie dough and donate the kidney myself.

Plus, if you actually know me, you’ll come to the back door first. This means whoever is at my front door is a semi-stranger I’ll be forced to yell through the glass at because I secretly fear they’re casing the joint—even if they are 5 years old.

Spoiler alert: Unless you want drawers of rubber bands and incense, you should probably loot down the street. You’ll be much more satisfied there.

So I feel like sprinting across the living room and diving into the kitchen to hide out of view is actually a quite reasonable response, despite the eye rolls the cat throws my way. While I realize I could be missing out on a hot UPS guy or millions of dollars each time, it’s a price I’m willing to pay for not having to pay $14 for fudge.

And I still think the wreath’s a nice touch.

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Trick-or-Tofu Treats

We’ve talked about the costumes, so let’s talk about the candy.

Although I’m a bit of a gum whore, I’ve made no secret to the fact that I’m not a “sweets” person. But to each their own, and if there is ever a time and a place for treats, it’s at Halloween. Candy is part of the tradition, and some traditions don’t need any updating or modification.

halloweencandy_bowl

In other words, don’t try and make Halloween a healthy holiday.

I was lucky in that I lived in one of the “good” neighborhoods filled with houses of young children and eager parents ready to turn on the spooky sounds tape and serve as our sugar daddies/moms for the night. We would race from house to house in small gangs, maniacally ringing the doorbell and waiting for the owner to drop some sort of treat into our impatiently-thrust candy collection contraption—a plastic pumpkin, an empty pillowcase, etc.

When we got home, our bounty from the evening was strewn across the floor and open for inspection. Favorites were hoarded and hidden while the less-liked items were up on the trading block.

Always popular were the mini-candy bars of just about any type—the Snickers, Baby Ruth, Milky Way, Peanut Butter cups, that elusive Krakel that seemed so difficult to secure. I also liked the little boxes of Milk Duds even though there were only three in the whole damn box and they basically ripped your teeth out of your head.

When it came to trade bait, Smarties topped the list for me—little chalk disks wrapped in plastic, in my opinion—and candy corn was basically colored wax and quickly discarded. Things like jawbreakers, butterscotch disks, gumballs and mints were lost on us.

tootsierolls

Flavored Tootsie Rolls should not exist.

But then there were some of the more “non-traditional” treats that found their way into our bags of pilfered goods. I remember getting coupons for a free French fry at Burger King, some plastic toys that were quickly tossed aside once identifiable as inedible, popcorn balls also quickly tossed aside once identifiable as inedible, coins and the occasional “healthy” offering.

Yes, once in awhile fruit (not in the form of a fruit roll-up,) crackers, baby carrots, boxes of raisins, etc. were offered.

Now you know I’m the first person to champion healthy alternatives to sugar-laden snacks, but to all of those well-meaning people out there—don’t try to health up Halloween.

With correct parental guidance, most children will consume these healthier items on a daily basis in their lunches or after school. And while it may seem like a practical offering, holidays — not to mention children — are not about being practical. They did not get dressed up and excited for you to dole out an apple.

caramel-apples-2-300x200

Unless it’s covered in caramel and shoved on a stick, the apple just won’t fly.

So while I understand the epidemic of childhood obesity and agree that there is much that needs to be done, there needs to be tradition. Candy is part of the tradition, and if they eat too much of it, they may just learn a lesson about the dangers of too much sugar and moderation (that will inevitably be forgotten by the time Halloween rolls around once again.)

After all, it’s trick-or-treat—not trick-or-tofu treats—and we owe it to the younger generation to keep the traditional alive.

Plus, you can always eat the “leftovers.”

What was your favorite Halloween candy? Your least favorite? Are you one who dishes out fruit or fruit-flavored Blow-Pops?