As I said in my last post, for me October = Halloween. It’s been that way since I was a kid running around the neighborhood trying to load up on as much candy as I could possibly drag back to my house. Only taking a break from my task half way through my route to hit Mrs Bill’s house to get a carb/sugar boost from the caramel covered apples she’d make (a sad statement on society today that this is no longer acceptable practice).
Whatever this odd neuron in my head was that made Halloween my favorite holiday (or observance if you want to get picky) also spilled into my normal life. I love horror movies and books. Enjoy going to haunted attractions just to see “how they’re done stuff”. And now sit for hours watching SYFY channel’s Faceoff with my daughter because watching makeup artists turn people into monsters is just way cool. TV? Yeah, well I’ll admit that shows like Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and Archer do slip into the mix; but really my viewing schedule revolves more heavily around the likes of The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and Ghost Hunters.
So it’s no surprise that when I bought my house, the first thing I thought of was, “I wonder how many Trick-or-Treaters we get?” Ok, the first thing I thought was, “Really? She want’s me to pull up all these carpets in the living room, dinning room and hallway and resurface the hardwood floors?” But work with me here.
And consequently the home haunt has been growing as every year we try to add something different to the every expanding collection that now takes up a closet I built in the basement that runs the whole width of one room. It’s fun, the kids like it and every year it allows me to let my creative side loose and do things you normally don’t get in our 9 to 5 pre-apocalyptic world. And of course it stands to reason that while all this is happening, I like drinking some good Halloween themed beers, and I have a few favorites. But during these times the house is also full of pesky poltergeists that can just annoy the crap out of you when all you want to do is paint some tombstones and drink some good beer.
First we have skeletons, the pretentious douches of the home haunt world. Although in their native element they would be relatively inexpensive “4th class non-medical grade skeletons”, these boney bastards (known as buckies in the home haunt world) immediately take on an air of cocky, self-importance when they walk into a home haunt. They seem happy to do nothing; sitting around in chairs and on workbench tops until the big night, only then gracing the world with their presence. Their only task during this “down time” between their exile in the closet and the “big night” seems to be stealing beer from the fridge and drinking it, which is both useless and wasteful from a skeleton’s perspective as all you have at the end of the night are a bunch of Buckies sitting around in pools of wasted beer, which is a sadder thought than a drunk sitting in his own urine. I mean, at least he got some benefit from it! But as they don’t care about things like ownership, beer rules or manners they simply ignore these facts and will drain a beer fridge dry if not kept a careful watch on.
In comparison, pumpkins are usually about as unassuming as the scrubby next to the kitchen sink. If you have no use for it for long enough; you might forget that it’s actually there. Quiet and reserved, pumpkins don’t seem to get flustered by much, even as you’re taking a sharp kitchen knife to the top of one of their comrades. But it is at this point that the Jekyll/Hyde nature of pumpkins comes out for, like Gremlins, they should come with a set of rules: don’t burn kerosene soaked toilet paper in them, and don’t give them evil faces. For indeed, pumpkins quickly assume the personality of whatever face you give them changing them from quiet, cooperative gourds into obnoxious bullies that can be possibly quite difficult to handle. One of the push buttons of a carved pumpkin is the almost relentless protectiveness that they adopt about their brethren in other forms. So if you don’t want a patch of wicked Will-o’-the-wisps in your work room; never offer a carved pumpkin a slice of pumpkin pie, and be careful that they don’t notice that the beer you’re sipping on is a pumpkin ale.
Ghosts on the other hand are truly passive. They’re usually residual in nature; continuously doing the same thing again and again (like the one that appears on our deck every year on Halloween night) without noticing or reacting to whoever might be around. Sometimes you find an intelligent one however; one that seems to be desperately trying to reach out and get your attention. This could manifest as simple noises, appearing in mirrors or photos, to just making the dog bark. But some like to let you know that they’re about by moving objects when you’re not looking. And nothing is more annoying than having your beer disappear from the work bench, only to find it hours later (sometimes empty) on top of the refrigerator upstairs in the kitchen. If asked politely, ghosts will often return the beer or at least move it a little closer towards you but you can bet that a good portion of it will be gone. I suspect they use the beer as energy to manifest themselves enough to move the bottle; which is why you always find it more empty than the last time you saw it. Anyway, that’s what I’m going with. This one isn’t the one that haunts my deck, but looks amazingly similar.
From a beer lover’s perspective, Zombies are an issue only by their destructive nature. They don’t give a crap about the beer you’re holding or in fact beer at all which in many ways makes them more annoying than the other entities above. As proof of this, I point to this season’s premiere episode of The Walking Dead. While in a convenience store looking for supplies, the group is descended (literally) upon by a hoard of zombies, all of which shamefully ignore the Terripan Brewery and Sweetwater cases that are stacked at an end cap just ripe for the taking.
No, instead they ignore this potential party in the making to eat a couple of members of the group and pointlessly destroy cases of beer and shelves full of wine. Dicks. But as unwelcome as they are at frat parties, weddings or airplanes, they are invaluable at the home haunt, but must be contained with great care. Because as I pointed out, although they might not want to drink your beer, they have no remorse in destroying it while they’re trying to eat you.
In comparison crows and ravens are perfectly harmless. These birds have no real desire for beer, or in fact for anything you have except corn or seed. But they do have the annoying penchant for gathering in murders and ominously watching you as you try to get things done. They seem to have an eerie knack of staring at you accusingly like a Catholic High school Nun or your significant other after a night out with the boys. This can be quite creepy, especially if you’ve ever watched “The Birds”, and can easily distract you from the task at hand. They can also be stubborn and aggressive, especially when you’re attempting to shoo one off your bottle of beer.
Lastly, Ghouls are a home haunter’s best friends. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing the two that do “black light magic” in my living room window every year for 20 and 16 years now. They’re helpful around the haunt, quick to set stuff up and are always coming up with new ways to scare people. And although they aren’t human, they have no problem abiding by our laws in such that, since neither of them are over the ages of 21, neither of them seem overly compelled to steal the haunt’s beer. In fact, often the only time they come in contact with one is when asked to bring one from the fridge. Beyond that they are indispensable at keeping the other creatures in line, making sure that no matter what issues they have, they are where they need to be, doing what they need to be doing on the big night.
Ghouls and beer. You can’t have enough on Halloween.
Happy Halloween everyone. And to my Celtic friends, Blessed Samhain!