Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ritual Deconstruction

Something I started doing years ago late on Halloween night was completely dismantling my yard haunt when the festivities have ended. This actually started out of necessity a while back when I had some unruly teens stop by expecting treats without costumes - a definite no-no at my house, along with the use of profanity by trick-or-treaters, but even this rule has exceptions: sometimes a "Holy sh*t!" slips out when you scare the dickens out of someone (but vulgar cursing just to posture for your buddies and show them that you're not really scared and how fake everything is will get you escorted off the property). Basically, either one of these infractions may get you a denial in the sweets department. There are rules, you see, and I think both of these are simple enough to follow to claim your prize. Well, several years back a duo of hooligans threatened to return and trash my graveyard, so down it came that very night after the last beggar had left.

As it turned out, this has turned into one of the neater traditions I have on that dark night of nights. With such an elaborate yard haunt that includes costumed mannequins, a fog machine and chiller, piped in music, over 30 headstones, a 40' graveyard fence and archway, a 15' tall scarecrow, a coffin-shaped tiki-bar for serving hot apple cider and pumpkin bars, strobe lights, black lights, blue spot lights, and more - all of it which stands for the entire month of October - it really is a shock for people to drive by on the morning of November 1st and see that it all has completely vanished; as if it was never there at all.

So each Halloween night, right around 9:30 p.m. (I give time for those late stragglers who go out of their way to beg at my house), I pour a glass of wine and begin the sacred process of stacking and storing it all away in my garage. It is a very solemn event - for at this time of night I am the only one out of doors. As the clock ticks toward the witching hour, a creepy feeling steals over me and I can't help but feel something's out there - watching - waiting - to make sure it is all done right. Inspired by the movie TRICK-'R-TREAT, I always make sure to leave one jack-'o-lantern burning on the stoop - but the rest comes down.

This year the weather was gorgeous. The temperature at 11:00 p.m. was right around a balmy 45 degrees, with a slight breeze that rustled what few leaves remained on the maple tree in our front yard. This same breeze stirred a some stray leaves and a small Dixie Cup (that a beggar had dropped from our cider urn) in our neighbor's driveway. The sound effect that was created by the leaves and the cup rolling about on that ominous, silent eve was chilling (I had to investigate the sound, as it was such an odd acoustic that I couldn't place just what it was I was hearing). I never realized the importance I put on the little things on Halloween - even as my haunt seems to grow bigger and bigger each year - but it's the little things, a single flickering jack-'o-lantern that snuffs its candle out all by itself just as I decide to call it a night, an unfamiliar sound out there alone in the dark, which makes it all worthwhile.

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