As many of you might know, Halloween is my least favorite of all holidays. The aversion actually stems from several different routes, but the two major ones are my utter enmity towards the color orange and a high level of discomfort around costumed things.
On the costumed things tangent, let me demonstrate my issues with a short story: A few years ago (okay, it was pre-Peace Corps, so more than just a few) Thad and I took a mini-vacation to Las Vegas with a few friends. Our group included Jeremy and Justin, two of his friends from high school, and Shannon, my best friend and fellow middle school teacher. After wandering the entire length of the Strip, several times, the day was drawing to a close, but there was one Vegas site that was high on a few people’s “Must See” lists- the Star Trek bar. Now, while this was not on a desirable side trip for me, I had hauled the entire group to the Excalibur so that I could get period pictures as a princess! I owed them all an uncomplaining trip to nerd-dom. To be fair, the bar itself was pretty cool. There were all these fancy, futuristic machines that poured drinks and lots of shiny and sparkly cocktail choices. All was going well- for a short time. Soon after we arrived, as Shannon and I sat giggling at the other bar patrons, suddenly a costumed creature appeared in front of us. (I am still unsure if it was male or female.) As I have little Star Trek knowledge (other than trying to emulate Geordi LeForge by wearing my banana clips over my eyes) I didn’t know what character this things was supposed to be, but it was creeping me out. S/he asked questions about where we were from and what we were doing, but all seemed to be aimed directly at me. After giving short, terse answers, I tried to look engrossed on whatever was playing on the TV at the time. The creature walked away, but soon it appeared again. (I later learned that my lovely husband was beckoning it over when I wasn’t looking.) Shannon, being nearly as filled with the heebie-jeebies as I was, agreed to skedaddle with me. We quickly made plans to meet the others outside the hotel when they had finished their sci-fi concoctions and we made our hasty exit. The only problem? Apparently the costumed things are allowed to roam freely! I figured if we got out of the bar itself, we would be safe, but no such luck. Whatever this thing was continued to follow us through the hotel. We had no choice but to beeline it for the closest building exit. While we waited in the hotel’s driveway in Las Vegas’ slightly uncomfortable gazillion degree weather, we came to the conclusion that melting into the pavement like ice cream cones at a state fair was a better option that being tailed by whatever costumed creatures lurked in the comfort of the air conditioning.
But I digress…
Without Mom’s backyard pumpkin patch to wander through and pick my own pumpkins from, I was constrained to choosing from the supermarket’s meager selection. Knowing that I had to haul my pick home on the bus, all colossal and prodigious pumpkins were quickly taken out of the running to be this year’s Halloween star. After sorting the short, fat pumpkins from the tall, long ones, I proceeded to turn the lucky top picks in full circles to get a view from each angle. (I use a similar process in December with Christmas trees. Thad loves going along on these excursions!) As the culling process proceeded, I finally narrowed the field down to two. One had a better color to it, but it was a bit small, so he (I always refer to my pumpkins as male)earned himself the runner-up spot. The tiara and sash went to a rather rotund gourd that had a great tilt to him, making the perfect canvas for my jack o’lantern. (Note to Shopper’s Supermarket: Do something about your harvest display located near the pumpkins. Those bales of straw are not hay, they are straw. There is a huge difference. And three bales does not a haystack make!)
With our gourd safely back home, it was time to finish getting ready for the carving party. (Yes, the pronoun “our” is correct. Thad and I decided to share one pumpkin. We would split the fun. He would clean the guts out and I would carve. Fair deal!!) I soon finished decorating my spider cake- arachnids from Oreos (!) and got the house picked up and extra chairs hauled in from the patio.
John and Erin showed up, right on time, with apple cider, a couple more pumpkins and a carving kit. It was time to get to it!
After covering the table with newspapers we had collected from the “free paper” boxes nearby, it carving commenced. Erin, our resident artist, carved an intricate design of bats flying around a sliver of moon, edged with clear marbles for stars. John, after painstakingly cleaning his pumpkin and sorting the seeds, carved his jack o’lantern in about three minutes flat. My effort fell somewhere in between the two with a clownish-faced Halloween friend.
Without the terror of costumed creatures lurking about, our evening of carving pumpkins and munching on spider cake made the thought of Halloween just a little easier to swallow. Celebrating pre-Halloween is the future of the holiday for me!