Tee’s Review : If you go as a pro wrestling clogger, have your man carry a chair and money around so he can be the recipient of your lap dance.
Here at Baskerville Hall, the dog is howling as usual and the residents are preparing for the most celebrated holiday of the year. There is a palpable atmosphere of terror and the smell of mustiness permeates the premises like a stick of moldy incense. Lights flicker, bones rattle in the basement and the spoons refuse to stack in the silverware drawer. The mailman feels a shiver down his spine as he hastily stuffs the postal contents into the box, which is hanging by one nail. The hour of darkness is nearly upon us. We find ourselves laughing maniacally at the slightest amusement. The scratching at the door, the whistling of the wind as it comes across the moors, the faint susurrus of whispered lamentations all mount as the night draws in. It is Halloween.
To make my house a little less spidery and a little more welcoming, I washed my front windows and pulled down all the real webs—there were many! I dug through some boxes in the basement for my pumpkin lights and reverently hung them over the front porch windows. I have heard a rumor there will be trick or treating this year. I plan to put some goodies out near the front steps to keep the kiddies from ringing the doorbell. The Baskerville hound will be baying enough as it is without further provocation. Once again, the mystery of the missing plastic jack-o-lantern is debated. I will continue the search for its shiny, neon orange and black grimace among the piles of crap we have managed to squirrel away in the basement. If there really isn’t a pumpkin shortage, I’ll scrape out a real one, carve a scary visage into its flesh and throw in a battery-powered light source. Oh, it’ll be right frightening at Baskerville Hall this year, as is our tradition.
During our afternoon walks, we noticed the decadence with which our neighbors have lavishly decorated their houses and yards. The hound has had a few run-ins with the straw-stuffed bodies of scarecrows lounging too closely to the street. One neighbor gave us a laugh at the carnage suggested by the armament of her pink flamingo. I love when scary meets hilarious. One house has an ominous sign above its front fencing stating “Dark Shadows Mansion” in gothic lettering up above the rickety gate. This house wins the prize with its numerous gargoyles perched on the roof ledge. It looks like the kind of place a movie producer would choose–one in which the teenagers seek refuge, providing fodder for the slaughter.
Some decorations are enchanting, spurring casual conversation with the homeowners. It’s not all doom and gloom, and our appreciation sometimes elicits impromptu invitations to Halloween doings at the house which the jeweled pumpkin or the line of witch-hatted cats whimsically decorate. We have received a few choice invitations for the holiday revelry we have come to expect in the vicinity. The possibility of costuming for these events prompts me to crack open the steamer trunk appropriately stored in a dark corner of our basement. Ideas have already been circulating in my imagination, but weather must now be considered for actual execution.
The clogging petticoat has long been considered as this year’s dress for success. It’s tacky and outrageous enough to work a theme around. Perhaps some sort of tap-dancing ghost. My buddy Tee, who works at a charity which feeds and clothes the homeless, will sometimes gift me with donations which have been deemed inappropriate attire for living on the streets (but perfect for weirdo house-holding friends). Maybe I’ll pair the frilly white petticoat with the black tee shirt sporting images of scantily-clad male wrestlers I received for my birthday to create a new wrestling persona known to be wicked with the footwork.
In designing a disguise or costume, am I contractually (through marriage) obliged to coordinate my holiday wear with my husband’s? We always seem to match each other at Halloween. Two years ago, we dressed as Asheville homesteaders complete with overalls and canning jars of fermenting vegetables. We were relieved from creativity in 2020, when we attended just one outdoor party dressed as skiers because the temperature was chilly. My creative juices were trumped by my tropical blood and the need to be warm in a costume intended to keep me comfortable, despite the risk to my ingenious reputation for causing an uproar. Fellow party-goers had to ask what we were! I made an oath right then that this embarrassment would never be repeated. What will we look like this year? I love a good mystery.
Then there are the kiddies. They have expectations. We’ve loaded up on the “hand out first” candy and the “good stuff” candy. I have a malingering penchant for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups exacerbated by the sight of witches and goblins. I swear by the púca I only eat them at Halloween time. And sometimes at Christmas. Also, at Easter if the bunny is keen to pay a bit extra for dental bills. We save the most desirous sugary delights for that time when all the Snickers and Three Musketeers Bars have gone out into the bags of all those Pokémon and Elsas on the block. It’s all I can do not to attack the Reese’s bag before October 31.
Of course, Halloween is just another holiday taken over by rampant commercialization. Sure, it’s fun, but legend has it that all the hoopla started way back in history as a festival (Samhain) to mark the end of the harvest and the beginning of the time of darkness. They probably never had to suffer through winter with a time change, making it dark while it’s still late afternoon, but we may never know the real story or the amount of suffering dickering with the clock has wrought upon civilization. So, they were free to celebrate with festivals of bonfires close to burial grounds which, on this night, were considered portals to the Otherworld. Pretty much fun all around.
The predominant belief was that at a certain point in time, All Hallows Eve (October 31), the veil between the living and the dead was so thin that people could communicate with the spirits of their long-lost loved ones, or maybe even dead people that still owed them money. This tradition lives on in the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (November 1). I’m unsure how these rumors got started and perpetuated, but I am familiar with the desire for just such an hour. I would love to share a pot of tea and a little conversation with my mom (gone seven years from the world of the living) next to a bonfire on a cold dark night. It is an ancient human tradition to mourn the loss of loved ones by keeping their memories close. May this Halloween bring you closer to that other realm and its residents, grant you solace and a few tender, little goblins. Here at Baskerville Hall, we will honor the old Celtic traditions, keep the hound at bay and stash away the best treats for the dark days that follow.
Guest Editor Tee has her own hound and an impressive collection of strange and wonderful garments meant to cause an outburst of finger pointing.