Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat?

Which do you prefer? The sugar addict in me is inclined to scream TREAT as visions caramels and chocolates dance in my head. But then I remember a certain house on my block where I grew up. On Halloween, this cozy, yellow-painted ranch surrounded by a white picket fence, a house complete with white shutters and window boxes, transformed into a house of complete, no-nonsense horror. It was one, immense trick. No one approached this dwelling in search of treats. Oh no. On a kid’s scale of treat worthiness (ten being primo and one being lame), the goodies given away at this house came in somewhere around negative two. Yet, this home got more Halloween traffic than any other house for miles. Why? Because the people who lived inside it took Halloween seriously. They rigged, booby-trapped, and wired every inch of the property to be the ultimate scare experience. Every year the horrors were different. No one ever knew what to expect, but all understood that the experience was about the trick, not the treat.

The witch-themed Halloween haunts my memories most vividly. On that night, the adventure began the moment my friends and I stepped through the gate opening. A hideous, life-size witch came flying out of a tree, stopping short just before the sidewalk as cackles and witchy screeches filled the air from well-hidden speakers. Those who didn’t drop dead from heart failure, proceeded on to the doorway where a cluster of shrieking, real-life witches (and NOT the Glenda the Good Witch type, either) surrounded in purple light and dry ice fogs invited shaking hands to reach into one of three caldrons for a treat. Reach into the right kettle and get the low-rated goodie; reach into the wrong cauldron and get a mitt-full of wet eyeballs, innards, and hunks of flesh, which some craggy voice proclaimed to be the leftovers of earlier trick-or-treaters. Want to guess where my hand went? Only now, as a rational adult, can I muster up enough logic to assume that I’d palmed peeled grapes, cooked pasta, and raw chicken. But at the time, I KNEW I had my hand in guts and goo. I KNEW from that moment on that I’d never be a surgeon.

That wasn't the end of the adventure, either. On the way back to the gate and freedom, more witches popped out of bushes, screeching and cackling and lunging. Bats and black cats rigged to wires flew off the roof, the felines hissing and spitting at high volume. In complete panic, certain our lives were in jeopardy, we bolted and stumbled for the gate opening in a mad frenzy of costumes, screams and adrenalin. Would we survive this to see daylight?

Ah, good times.

So, trick or treat? Remember, though: a treat lasts but a moment; a trick, or the memory of it, can last a lifetime. Happy Halloween, everyone!

P.S. I can't end this blog without adding a very special treat that Buck Fever received from reader Sean and The Recorder Newspaper—a wonderful review. Okay, some treats do last longer than a moment:

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