It was early October when we moved into our current neighborhood. The leaves were changing, the air was brisk, and my husband and I had just purchased our first home together. Our little family was giddy with anticipation. Everything was coming up Milhouse.
Not long afterwards, we discovered a small and shady park within walking distance of our house. We almost never go there anymore—it has become a much beloved destination of junkies, creepy weirdos, and billions upon billions of mosquitoes—but back then, we found the little park just DARLING. And so very convenient! We visited it regularly.
About halfway through the month of October, we were pushing our two-year-old son on one of the park swings when we were greeted by another family with young children. Polite small talk was had, introductions were made, basic courtesies were observed. Then the father asked us:
“So! Do you guys have any big plans for Halloween?”
We were stumped. This was an unusual question for us. We weren’t big Halloween people. I mean, sure—we’d attended a couple of costume parties over the years, but we hadn’t been very invested in them, waiting until the extreme last minute to throw together a couple of busted ass costumes made out of whatever shit was readily available. Big plans? What “big plans” were we supposed to have?
My husband and I replied that we did not, in fact, have big plans.
“Well, you guys are in for a treat. This neighborhood goes crazy at Halloween. Everyone decorates, dresses up, goes all out. You’ll see. It’s like Vegas.”
We looked at each other, alarmed. Crazy? Vegas? Going all out? None of these things sounded appealing to us. For the first time in my life, I was feeling actual fear about Halloween.
The big day finally rolled around. I’d made sure to buy about ten thousand bags of candy based on what Mr. Big Plans had told us about the neighborhood Halloween situation. We stationed my husband’s parents at the door to hand out candy, and took our son (dressed as a little pumpkin with legs) out for his first real trick-or-treat experience.
“This doesn’t seem like that big of a deal,” I said to my husband, as we started out down the sidewalk, rustling through the leaves and kicking them out of the way of our Tiny Pumpkin Man. “It seems like a pretty norm—“
And that’s when we saw the guy running around with the live chainsaw.
I did a quick reassessment of the situation and determined that Mr. Big Plans had not been wrong. Because this shit was crazy. This shit was Vegas. This shit was going all out.
And it was NOT NORMAL.
Here is what I have learned about our neighborhood’s Halloween proclivities since that day:
1. There is one family who builds an extremely intricate “Haunted Garage” every year. EVERY. YEAR. Interestingly enough, Chainsaw Man is the prelude to the Haunted Garage. He runs around on the sidewalk in full Texas Chainsaw Massacre garb, revving his chainsaw and chasing groups of kids into the street.
It’s always scary at first, but once I recover from my massive coronary and realize there’s no actual chain on the chainsaw, it becomes not nearly as frightening. That’s when I breathe a sigh of relief and decide it’s all good harmless fun for the kids. Because most young children know how a chainsaw works, right? They know there’s no real danger when it doesn’t have a chain, right? They can get past the terrifying psycho in the bloody costume brandishing a lethal and incredibly loud weapon at them, and see that they’re perfectly safe, right?
2. There is one guy who leaves his front door wide open, leaving only the screen door shut. Every year, behind the screen door, he places a creepy motion-activated man made out of the shittiest and cheapest plastic ever manufactured in China. The Creepy Motion-Activated Man stands guard over a huge bucket full of Halloween candy, which sits next to him on a chair.
The guy who actually owns the house then disappears out of sight.
If you’re a trick-or-treater, here’s what you need to do to get to the candy. You literally have to OPEN THIS DUDE’S SCREEN DOOR and STEP INTO HIS HOUSE. Then you have to REACH PAST the Creepy Motion-Activated Man, who of course goes off and starts spewing all kinds of freaky bullshit that would scare even the most jaded “Pssht, The Ring wasn’t scary” asshole out of his god damn mind. At that point, if you’re still hanging around and not running as fast as you can down the fucking street, congratulations! You get to eat some Fun Size Three Musketeers.
3. My neighbor across the street is the nicest man in the world, and he and his wife are completely lovely people whom we trust. However, I would like an explanation as to why every year, he gets out one of those clicker things and uses it to keep count of all the trick-or-treaters that come and go. Seriously. He does this. The kids go up there to get candy and he’s all “Happy Halloween!” CLICK! “Enjoy that candy!” CLICK! CLICK! “Great costume!” CLICK!
I don’t get it. I DON’T GET IT. What does he do with this information? Does he have an Excel spreadsheet in which he charts significant trends in trick-or-treat traffic across the years? Is he the world’s most useless analyst? Is “World’s Most Useless Analyst” supposed to be his Halloween costume? WHAT IS HE DOING? AND WHY?
While these are just a few of the Halloween shenanigans that my neighbors get up to every year, I can assure you there is SO. MUCH. MORE. There’s the guy who hands out candy while wearing a full-body spandex suit including head cover. There’s my elderly neighbor who puts together a special trick-or-treat bag just for my son and then makes such an enormous deal about it you would think she’d crafted him a magical wizard’s robe out of spun gold, dragon scales, and unicorn poop. And there’s the Mexican teenager who trick-or-treats in just his normal clothes, and if you ask him what his Halloween costume is, he’ll tell you “a Mexican.”
Now when someone asks us if we have “big plans” for Halloween, the question doesn’t seem quite as stupid or out of left field. We just sort of nod our heads and say: “The usual.” You know. Trick-or-treating with chainsaw-wielding assholes and high school kids “dressed as Mexicans.”
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Sarah del Rio is a comedy writer whose award-winning humor blog est.1975 brings snark, levity, and perspective to the ladies of Generation X. Despite being a corporate refugee with absolutely no formal training in English, journalism, or writing of any kind, Sarah somehow manages to find work as a freelance writer and editor. She contributes regularly to BLUNTMoms, has made several appearances on the Huffington Post Best Parenting Tweets of the Week List, and her blog est.1975 won Funniest Blog in The Indie Chicks 2014 Badass Blog Awards. She has also been featured on Scary Mommy and In the Powder Room.