Halloween was never a big deal for me, growing up in South Africa. Of course I knew about it, as a dedicated reader of both Ray Bradbury and Peanuts, but it wasn’t anything we celebrated. Then, around about the time the Girl Child hit her teens it became a Thing for older kids, who would go out all done up in blood spatters and ghoulishness (but still, of course, unnervingly sexy) and hang out at the local malls, and frankly that was a scary evening for parents. Disney princesses and plastic pumpkins full of treats didn’t feature; it was a dark celebration.
So anyway, I have now lived through 16 Smalltown USA Halloweens, and I feel ready to share a relevant personal experience, and since I didn’t have an actual Halloween experience worth sharing, at first I thought I’d write about a Traumatic Childhood Fancy Dress Memory.
First off, it’s important to stress that my parents are, and were, good people who didn’t torment me more than they absolutely had to. But … they were the kind of parents who thought that if your chubby, introverted, bespectacled kid was taking part in a church youth group fancy dress party, it made more sense to dress her up as a literary-minded garden pest (“Ha ha! You’ll be cute – you’ll see; you’ll make people laugh and everyone will think it’s a clever idea!”) than as, say, a princess or Little Bo Peep like the boring other girls. So they rolled me up in a luridly yellow bedspread, tied it on with string, and shoved a book in my hands.
Each kid paraded in turn across the stage while everyone guessed who they were, and there were prizes but I have no idea how they were awarded. I didn’t get one, and I wasn’t paying that much attention because I was too busy Actively Ignoring the giggling princesses and sniggering boys. Suddenly it was my turn to cross the stage. Unfortunately, in the interests of verisimilitude, my parents had tied the string all the way round my body right down to my ankles. Parading was not an option. I hobbled to the stage, someone heaved me up onto it, and I rolled around and tried to breathe until the youth pastor hauled me to my feet. At that point the uppermost string started coming undone, and the costume threatened to collapse around my (string-secured) ankles. (I forgot to mention that my arms were tied inside the yellow bedspread, with only my hands sticking out to hold the book. Because, you know, worms don’t have arms. So holding myself together was a challenge that made any parading across the stage completely out of the question.) Mercifully someone in the audience shouted, “She’s a bookworm!” before I was even fully vertical, and the pastor rolled me to the edge of the stage and they heaved me back down and let me hobble off into the outer darkness.
So that’s my Halloween horror story (even though it didn’t technically happen at Halloween, as far as I know), and I thought it would be the best I could come up with for this post. But then this afternoon I was sitting in the Barnes & Noble coffee shop with a friend, and I got THIS post from Himself:
At first I thought one of the hens had kicked the bucket and he was being funny, but no, a cock pheasant had foolishly planted itself in a tree out back and stayed there while Himself scurried off to fetch a shotgun.
Here’s another picture:
Is it just me, or is it just a tad gruesome to have a dead bird lying next to the kitchen sink on Halloween? Whatever … we went out for Chinese instead, and tomorrow is the NaNo kick-off party, but I expect we’ll be doing fabulous things involving wine and a crockpot and my first wild pheasant on Sunday.
In the meantime, I couldn’t waste such a fabulous opportunity to dress up. THIS Halloween, I’m Minnehaha.
And now it’s your turn! Do you torture your children by using them to demonstrate your creative sense of humor? What kind of text messages do your loved ones usually send you? Do you have any good pheasant recipes? Talk to me!