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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 96 15:59:56 -0800
Subject: Happy Halloween?
Forwarded-by: Lani Herrmann <email@example.com>
From: SMichael@symantec.com (Shannon Michael)
HALLOWEEN -- IT AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE
by DAVE BARRY
Knight-Ridder News Service
I LOVE Halloween. It reminds me of my happy childhood days as a student at
Wampus Elementary School in Armonk, N.Y., when we youngsters used to
celebrate Halloween by making decorations out of construction paper and that
white paste that you could eat. This is also how we celebrated Columbus Day,
Washington's Birthday, Lincoln's Birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter,
New Year's, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Armistice Day, Flag
Day, Arbor Day, Thursday, etc. We brought these decorations home to our
parents, who by federal law were required to attach them to the refrigerator
That was a wonderful, carefree time in which to be a youngster or
construction-paper salesperson. But it all ended suddenly one day -- I'll
never forget it -- when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite,
called "Sputnik" (which is Russian for "Little Sput"). Immediately all the
grown-ups in America became hysterical about losing the Space Race, which
led to a paranoid insecurity about our educational system, expressed in
anguished newspaper headlines asking, "WHY AREN'T OUR KIDS LEARNING IN
SCHOOL?" I wanted to answer, "BECAUSE ALL WE EVER DO IS MAKE DECORATIONS
OUT OF CONSTRUCTION PAPER," but I couldn't, because my mouth was full of
But getting back to Halloween: It's still one of the most fun holidays of
the year, as well as one of the most traditional, tracing its origins back
more than 2,000 years to the Druids, an ancient religious cult that
constructed Stonehenge as well as most of the public toilets in England.
The Druids believed that one night each year, at the end of October, the
souls of the dead returned to the world of the living and roamed from house
to house costumed as Power Rangers.
And thus it is that to this day, youngsters come to our door on Halloween
night shouting: "Trick or treat!" According to tradition, if we don't give
the youngsters a "treat," their parents will "sue" us. That's why most of
us traditionally prepare for Halloween by going to the supermarket and
purchasing approximately eight metric tons of miniature candy bars, which
we dump into a big bowl by the door, ready to hand out to the hordes of
The irony, of course, is that there ARE no hordes of trick-or-treaters, not
any more. We in the news media make darned sure of that. Every year we
publish dozens of helpful consumer-advice articles, cheerfully reminding
parents of the dangers posed by traffic, perverts, poisoned candy, and many
other Halloween hazards that parents would never think of if we didn't
remind them ("Have fun, but remember that this year more than 17,000
Americans will die bobbing for apples").
The result is that many children aren't allowed to go trick-or-treating,
and the ones who ARE allowed out come to your house no later than 4:30 p.m.,
wearing reflective tape on their Power Rangers costumes and trailed at close
range by their parents, who watch you suspiciously and regard whatever candy
you hand out as though it were unsolicited mail from the Unabomber.
So for most of Halloween, your doorbell is quiet. This means that you pass
the long night alone, hour after hour, just you and the miniature candy
bars. After a while they start calling seductively to you from their bowl
in their squeaky little voices.
"Hey, Big Boy!" they call. "We're going to waste over here!"
As the evening wears on they become increasingly brazen. Eventually they
crawl across the floor, climb up your body, unwrap themselves and force
themselves bodily into your mouth. There's no use hiding in the bathroom,
because they'll just crawl under the door and tie you up with dental floss
and threaten to squeeze toothpaste in your eye unless you eat them. At
least that's what they do to me. By the end of the night my blood has the
same sugar content as Yoo-Hoo.
But eating huge amounts of candy allegedly purchased for youngsters is only
part of the Halloween tradition. The other part is buying a pumpkin and
carving it to make a "jack-o'-lantern," which sits on your front porch, a
festive symbol of the age-old truth -- first discovered by the Druids --
that there is no practical use for pumpkins.
Here's how to make a traditional jack-o'-lantern:
1. Cut a lid on top of the pumpkin.
2. Pull off the lid and peer down into the slimy, festering pumpkin bowels.
3. Put the lid back on and secure it with 200 feet of duct tape.
(This is also the traditional procedure for stuffing a turkey.)
But however you celebrate Halloween, make sure you remember this important
safety tip: (IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP GOES HERE). Otherwise, you will not
survive the night. I'd give you more details, but right now I need to do
something about these tiny Milky Ways crawling up my legs.
© 1996 Peter Langston