It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Sometimes we do things that cannot be rationally explained. We shrug our shoulders and say, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” This is a story about one such event. 

My husband’s birthday is on Halloween. I think sometimes he liked it, and sometimes not, but it is what it is. In the late 70s/early 80s Saturday Night Live was in its heyday. It was the new, fresh, silly, irreverent show that we older teens loved. Plus, we had to stay up late to get any privacy, so it was a staple. One of the skits was of the adventures and misunderstandings of the “Coneheads.” The coneheads were aliens living on earth. Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman were the coneheads, Beldar, Prymaatt, and daughter Connie.    

I decided to have a surprise party for my then boyfriend, now husband. We were going to surprise him, then go to a haunted house. I invited a bunch of friends and stipulated that it was a costume party. He knew we were dressing up, and probably surmised more, but I don’t remember to be honest. What I do remember is finding the perfect couple’s costume. I was looking through some cheap catalog and saw Conehead wigs! Doesn’t that sound ideal? I quickly ordered them and waited for the package. Remember, there was no such thing as next day delivery unless you drove their yourself.  

Finally, the wigs came, and on Halloween we began to think about dressing up, having just said “cool” when we saw them, then waiting until the last minute to try them on. We went to my house, put them on, and they flopped to the side. OK, minor setback. We decided to stuff them with newspapers to make them stand up. Success! Only…they were so flimsy you could see through them. And they were kind of a yellow color.  

You know the point where you can either forge ahead or abandon the mission? We did not realize that this was that point. I decided that to match my skin at least, and provide a more natural look, we should just put make up on the wigs. We smeared my foundation all over the coneheads, taking care to blend around the wig line. We had to use a lot. This seemed to work, and we took a picture of the outcome.  

We discovered another problem when we tried to get into the car to drive to his parents’ house. The coneheads were too tall. We couldn’t sit in a car. My dad had a sense of humor and drove us in his car. We crouched down in the back seat. When we got out, the top of the car was my skin tone. My dad’s car was a Cover Girl. We didn’t care, we were young and going to a party! Pffffft to dad’s car!  

We went inside and received our accolades from our friends, surprising my husband. He blew out the candles and we had cake, then he opened gifts. Finally it was time to go to the haunted house.  

Of course our parents were not going to drive us, (God, no, how embarrassing) and our friends were a little less willing when we told them how funny it was that the foundation came off on the car. But luckily one friend had a truck! No problem, right? We’d sit in the back of the flatbed and our heads wouldn’t touch anything.  

Weather in Toledo, Ohio is unpredictable. On this particular Halloween it was about 20 below zero, or maybe it just felt like it. We huddled together, wrapped in a thin blanket, blinded by the headlights of the cars behind us. People honked their horns in appreciation (I think) as we cruised down the road to the haunt. Do you know I was so cold when we got there that I don’t even remember the haunted house? All I remember was sitting like a deer in the headlights fully understanding the meaning of wind chill and thinking “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.  

Anyway, that was one of our more memorable Halloweens. As for Chester, I could say the same thing about this year’s costume. I thought that instead of something around his neck, he might tolerate a pumpkin hat. I offered my husband the opportunity to put the hat on Chester. After much struggling, he sat there (we had a Milk Bone as enticement) just long enough for a picture. My husband took pity and removed the offending item. That was it for costumes.  

Chester went with us to the neighbor’s driveway for Halloween and was good as gold. The only thing that freaked him out was an inflatable dinosaur costume. He watched it go down the street and come back, looking worried and confused. He didn’t know whether to try to chase it or run. In the end he sat by us and threatened it with his scary evil eye while it walked down the street. Kind of like he did with this squirrel.  They usually have a stand off until one moves. In the dinosaur’s case, the dino was focused on candy and not Chester. So Chester won, and another Halloween is in the books. 

Have a good week!  

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Just for fun…

Halloween and Charlie Brown…

It is raining in Cleveland again. This is the third or fourth day in a row and it isn’t letting up. Chester has been giving us the stink eye when we suggest going outside. Here is a picture of his regular activity. Please note that he was snoring.

Here is the look he gave me when I suggested he go outside and go potty. He has been more lethargic on walks too, cutting them short halfway down the street. When Chester decides to go back home, we do. It’s kind of hard not to, when he braces his feet.

Surely you jest.

Before you worry about him though, he is fine. Right now he is flipping out over a guy working in our yard. He is launching himself sideways at the front door. He sounds ferocious. His hackles stand up and he has a very commanding bark. Of course if I let him out he would expect the guy to pet him. What a poser. At least he sounds scary.

Look at those hackles! Like a mohawk! Our son had a mohawk in the 90s and kept it up with egg whites. But I digress…

Speaking of scary, Halloween is this weekend! I watched ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on PBS. In the Charlie Brown hierarchy, this one is second to the Charlie Brown Christmas. But after this one, it’s a pool of wanna be Charlie Brown shows. These two are the only ones that count. Why is that? Partly because these have a lot of love in them, even while insulting poor CB. It always touches me when Lucy wakes up in the middle of the night and gets her brother out of the pumpkin patch (where are the parents??) and puts him to bed.  Little brothers are a pain but we love them anyway. The other reason is that for those of us over a certain age these were the only television traditions we could watch. I marvel at how my two sons, born in 84 and 86, only had Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. Our daughter, born in 1993, had an explosion of kids’ tv. As a child I had even less. We had Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny. And Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), followed in 1966 by “It’s the Great Pumpkin”. Later we had Frosty (1969), and a few others but none matched good old CB. Rudolph was made right before CB; in 1964. But CB is the classic. It brings back memories of sitting around the tv with my brother and sister, and later with our kids. Remember, we couldn’t record something. So if we missed it, that was it. I think that made it more special.

Anyway, I wanted to get Chester a Halloween costume. He’s not a fan of dressing up but I found this bandana in the closet. He wouldn’t look at me while it was on, just looked at the floor and panted. Honestly you’d think I was killing him. When I took it off he wagged his tail like he wanted a Milk Bone. Sheesh.

This is the best I could do

Halloween makes me think of times I was scared and what I’m afraid of. There was the time when our cousin/babysitter turned on “The Birds”. I ran into the bathroom and locked the door. No, I wasn’t as young as you might think. Scary movies frighten me but not for long. I revisited “The Birds” a few days ago while walking Chester. We have a huge flock of blackbirds who stop in the spring and in the fall for a few days then move on. They make a horrendously loud sound, just like in The Birds. We look down and keep walking.

This was from last fall, but same birds. The black dots are the birds.

Then there was the time when my brother and I were walking back from a rest stop somewhere in Indiana. I was 22, he was 18. For some stupid reason they put the rest stop way back, not seeable from the parking lot. There was a paved trail winding past some large ponds and rushes. As luck would have it, it was dark. We made it there, but it creeped me out big time. On the way back, my dumb brother said softly “kill her mommy, kill her” (From Friday the 13th, which was the first scary movie I saw). I ran. But he did too! (yes you did, Andy!!) Luckily I was running regularly at that point, and the monster/ghost/bad guy didn’t catch me. It didn’t catch my brother either even if he deserved it. Now I would just wave it on to catch him because no way am I running. Getting old makes you either brave or apathetic.  

As for what I’m afraid of now…not much. I used to be afraid of ghosts. Lately I’ve been feeling pressure on my shoulder, like a hand but wider, when I’m going to sleep. It’s just a warm weight but nothing is there. I think one of our cats who have passed on has been visiting us. I’ve heard noises and felt something brush by my leg. It’s not scary though, it’s very comforting. I don’t sense that it is a person, or one of the dogs, not that I’d be scared of them either. I used to work in a building reputedly haunted by nuns. Unfortunately I never saw one.

What was your favorite costume if you dressed up? Mine was a cat. But my go to is a witch. I usually dress up to pass out candy. I used to sit on the porch. One of our sons got into it for a couple of years. He tied a dollar bill to a fishing line, cast it from his upstairs window and when a kid tried to pick it up he’d pull it away. It worked remarkably well! Another year he pretended to be a Halloween fake prop on the porch in a chair then jumped up and scared the kids. That also worked well. We did have an old cassette tape of scary sounds, you know organ music, groaning, and screaming. We’d have to plug in the cassette player inside and open the window. If it isn’t rainy we get a lot of kids, but unfortunately it looks like this might be an off year.  I will wear the wig even outside though just because I like it. I will also make pumpkin seeds and eat them all within 2 days. Yep, I will probably get sick. I don’t care, it’s that or the Halloween candy. Maybe it’s and/or the Halloween candy…

Anyway, enough musing. Have a Happy Halloween if you celebrate it. Dress up your dogs or cats if you are able. We will be sitting around a fire pit in the neighbor’s driveway passing out candy and eating s’mores. Chester will be in a bandana or a t-shirt like the dog in “Rocky.” We’ll see if he likes that better. I’m positive he will!

A Halloween walk…

Stop pulling, Chester. Wait! Bags? Check. Flashlight? Check. Dog? Hee hee I amuse myself.

Ooh, look at the stars! There’s Orion’s Belt. Is that the big dipper? No, can’t be certain. They seem to be fading. Must be a cloud. What do you see, Chester? Up there by Julius’ house? Is it a bunny? I don’t see anything, crazy dog.

Boy is it quiet this morning. I don’t see lights on in any of the houses. That’s weird, usually someone is up and about. Maybe everyone decided to sleep in on Halloween. I don’t get it, every house is pitch dark. What do you see now Chester? Quit pulling! Hey, I can’t hear the highway. As a matter of fact I don’t hear anything at all. The train usually comes by about now. Or at least the crickets or cicadas are chirping. Maybe it’s too early. Dead silence.

This is getting kind of creepy. It’s like I’m alone in the world. What would I do if something happened? What was that? I feel a chill. Sheesh, Martha, quit psyching yourself out. There is nothing here. It’s like every other walk every other day. Just keep walking.

I feel something. It’s colder than I thought it would be. It seems like it dropped 10 degrees in a few minutes. Brr. I hear something in the leaves behind us. Walk faster. Don’t turn around. No turn around and stand up real tall and straight. See what it is. No, walk faster. If there was something behind us, Chester would act different. Don’t look.

Something is definitely following us. Turn around you scaredy cat. You are supposed to be fearless. This is your neighborhood, get tough. Turn around NOW. Oh, it’s nothing. There’s nothing there. Hee hee you’re a mess Martha. Now go home, Chester wants his Kong. And you need coffee.

Wow, it’s dark. I can’t see a darn thing. Good thing I know the route. Oh shoot, Chester has to poop. Get the flashlight. No I want to go home. Just pick up as much as you can see and get out. Something moved past the window of that house. Is it on the outside or inside? Hurry up Chester. Keep going, you’re almost home.

Ok, something is following me. Walk faster, one two three four, count the steps. Oh my God, I saw a shadow. Breathe, in, out, in out. Don’t run, if it’s an animal it’ll chase you. Did someone clear their throat? Something is behind me. Doesn’t sound like an animal. Glance over your shoulder, see if it’s a coyote. Go on, DO IT. Better to know. OK, on the count of three, one, two, three, now LOOK!

What? Nothing there. I’m alone. What is that? Is it a reflection in Chester’s eyes, are the street lights on? No, must be my imagination, it’s still dark. You are a basket case, Martha, just Halloween getting to you. Come on Chester, hurry up. Whew there’s the house. Where are the high school kids at the bus stop? My spine is prickly.

Wait, something is wrong. What is it? I don’t know but it’s wrong, screaming wrong. The house is dark too. We will cut through the yard. Come on, Chester, why did you stop? What is wrong with you? Let’s go inside. No, wait, I left the lights on. No, no, no, what is that on the porch?

Help, turn around! Chester…Chester…run away. Go, run! Go! No, what are you doing? Don’t go that way, get out! What’s wrong with your eyes? What is that behind you? How many eyes are there…all I see is red eyes. I’m confused, are they all dogs? What is that sound? It’s a low growl. Chester, don’t go to the thing on the porch! Run! Did it just say good dog?

Whaaat…I’m surrounded. The growl is getting louder. Chester, come! I knew you would help me, come, hurry. What’s that? Are your lips moving? I can’t make a sound. My nose is growing. I’m shrinking. I’m screaming but I can’t. I hear barking.  Is that me? I’m covered in fur, I can’t stand up straight. Chester, help me!

Ohh…I can’t get up. Why can’t I speak?  What is that barking..is it me?Who are you? Lori? Oh am I glad to see you! I love your haircut. The bow is falling out though. What Chester? If you could speak why didn’t you before? What do you mean I didn’t give you enough treats? Where’s John? Oh, I see him, the Shepherd. I’d recognize that mustache anywhere. Listen, our pack leader on the porch is talking. He has such beautiful red eyes like us, and a long tail. What do you think he….OW! He poked me with that pitchfork. If I had that pitchfork I’d …

Happy Halloween!

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