Commentary: Current events are pretty scary and frightening and deserve attention, but once in a while we like to step away from politics to share a funny story or a memory. This is one of those times.
The best way to celebrate Halloween is to get scared out of your skin. One can compare it to the thrill of riding a roller coaster or walking through a cemetery at night. It is also an excellent opportunity to create memories that last a lifetime.
My late best friend loved October and especially Halloween. Jack would get so excited when the leaves started turning yellow and orange and practically orgasm when the first cool front of the year blew in.
For about 20 of the 25 years of our friendship, we were roommates. I could hardly get him to lift a finger to decorate at Christmas but he would go all out at Halloween.
Never one to dress up for Halloween, Jack took pleasure in decorating for the holiday, and would hang ghosts from the trees in the yard, decorate the porch, and buy pumpkins for everyone who stopped by to decorate. Halloween put him in his element.
When we moved into the townhouses along Pacific Street, across from Blur Bar, more pedestrians were available to witness his diabolic acts, and Jack came into his true prankster glory. One year we bought a giant spider that we tied to a string and draped it over a limb of the large oak tree in front.
We then situated ourselves at Jack’s bedroom window that overlooked the sidewalk and dropped the spider down on passers-by. We got such a kick from seeing drag queens, twinks, and especially the big macho hunks scream like little girls as the gigantic spider descended upon them.
Another time we bought a fog machine and positioned it at the front door of the house. When it would get turned on, it would fog up practically the entire block and drift down to the 800 block of Pacific Street.
One time, and one time only, Jack and I went to a haunted house together. It was early in our friendship and it was my first such experience, but Jack had been doing this for years. Having seen my reaction at horror movies (I tend to jump and flail limbs a lot), he was looking forward to my reaction to being scared shitless.
We got to the haunted house, paid our admission fees and advanced into the house of horrors. Barely a step into the house, the terror began. There was mood music (think Dark Shadows), almost complete darkness, and sometimes strobe lights flashing.
Most of the exhibits were stationary prompts and there were a few live acts, as well. They usually kept their boundaries. Suddenly something jumped out in front of me. It was masked in a white hockey type mask. While most people would have screamed and clutched their pearls, I slapped at the creature and landed a blow to its face. My smack reminded myself of Dorothy slapping the Cowardly Lion on the snout in The Wizard of Oz.
“It” turned out to be a female employee of the haunted house who screamed out, “He hit me.” Immediately the lights came on. I was so embarrassed that all I could do was look down. The “monster” told someone, “There he is. He’s the one.”
I kept my head down as the staff ushered someone out of the house or horrors. “What a relief,” I thought. They didn’t know it was me. Then the lights went out and I continued my journey through the darkness.
When I reached the end of the tour through hell and stepped onto the brightly lit sidewalk, Jack was standing there smoking a cigarette, calm as can be. It looked like he had been there for quite some time. I approached him and said, “What are you doing out here?”
He replied, “They threw me out. They said I hit someone.”
My first thought was, “So that’s who she mistakenly identified as her assailant.” My initial impulse was to stay quiet and keep the truth to myself, but I told him the truth as we got in the car and headed out to have a drink.
Surprisingly, he didn’t get mad at me that night and we laughed about it for years afterwards.
Not surprisingly, he never went to another haunted house with me again. e