Neighbors hung up decorations. I created events! Even a car can be a prop.
Zombie Deli (my favorite)
Why I've forsaken Halloween
As Jewish boy, Christmas never meant much to me.
Since first grade, Halloween has been my favorite holiday (April Fools Day is in second place).
I love costumes, surprises, decorating and special effects. I wore my last store-bought costume in first grade. Since then, I have been the creator of my appearance.
As a child and teen I started preparing costumes in mid-summer and consistently won prizes for my efforts. As an adult—with an attic filled with props—I usually waited until the very last minute, and consistently won prizes for my efforts.
In my best year, probably around 1990, I won awards for both Best Man and Best Woman because the judges could not determine my gender and I refused to specify the nature of my alien genitalia.
In my last few years in Westchester County, NY, Halloween had pretty much died out. Even though I lived in an extremely safe neighborhood, in some years we saw just a handful of trick-or-treaters, or even none.
When I moved to Connecticut in 2001 I felt like I had passed through a time tunnel back to the Eisenhower years. The streets were clogged with kids and parents.
I started to concentrate on elaborate events—not the mere decorations favored by my less creative neighbors. I had lots of lighting, sounds and electronic effects, including animated speaking and singing robots. I erected structures. My favorite was the Zombie Deli where robotic monsters behind the counter 'sold' eyes, arms and other body parts.
My home quickly became a local attraction, captured on many videos. It was fun seeing how little kids evolved. One year a three-year-old would be too terrified to approach my home. The next year, the braver four-year-old would approach, clutching a parent's hand for security. At age five, the kid was brave enough for a solo visit. Costumes evolved, too. A three-year-old princess later became a witch and then a blood-sucking vampire.
I was in costume, of course, and I often interacted with the kids. Sometimes I'd conduct BOOing contests. Sometimes I'd ask why I should give candy to the kids since they had nothing for me. One year a kid, expecting that question, presented me with a salami sandwich and a cold beer. Some years it was much too cold to drink a cold beer. But one Halloween was warm enough to go in my pool.
Erecting my exhibits often took four to six hours, and take-down could take two or three. Some years I spent hundreds of dollars for materials, and a hundred or more on candy to feed the 150 expected visitors.
I'm older, tireder and poorer now.
Three years ago I started a new Halloween tradition.
At around 4:30 PM my wife and I turn off the lights, get in the car and go away for five hours.
Do I miss the fun of earlier years? Sure I do. But I have the memories and photos.
The Last Girl On Earth
Sally was a petite seventh-grader with an enormous ego, better suited to someone with greater beauty, brains and talent. So great was her opinion of herself, and so low the opinion that others had of her, that there seemed to be permanent graffiti in the street in front of her house proclaiming, “SALLY IS CONCEITED.”
She and I attended Cotillion, a ballroom dancing school that also attempted to teach the social graces to young teenagers on Friday nights. One Friday night was also Halloween night, and Cotillion management wisely realized that the only way they could get 12-year-olds to forsake trick-or-treating for dancing school was to have a costume party with prizes.
For me, this was the second best reason to go to Cotillion. The best reason was to dance with the 18-year-old female dance instructors who had breasts and hips.
I don’t remember what I wore that year, but as I expected, I won “Best Boy,” and my peers applauded. My prize, unexpectedly, was not a trophy or even a big bag of candy.
I got to choose to dance with any girl I wanted to.
Conceited Sally assumed she was the leading candidate and, aware of my rock-bottom social status, she tried to hide behind some taller friends. She wasn’t completely hidden, however. I moved close to the microphone, looked at her and announced in a deep voice, “Don’t worry, Sally, I wouldn’t pick you if you were the last girl on earth!” There was thunderous applause, especially from the other girls.
Then, instead of skinny, flat-chested, conceited Sally, I picked Gloria, one of the 18-year-old instructors who had breasts and hips.
Gloria was much nicer than Sally and gave me a kiss on the lips to congratulate me, and then we did a slow Foxtrot in the spotlight. We danced much closer than normal for 12-year-olds, but probably normal for 18-year-olds.
I can still remember the Foxtrot steps from over 50 years ago: Forward. Sidestep. Back. Feet together. Slow. Cross that foot.
Gloria did a grind against me and gave me a woody.
It lasted for a long time and I didn’t dance close with the next girl because I might have been banished from Cotillion for being a pervert.
Michael and sister Meryl as bum and gypsy. Mom helped with the costumes.