Humor

The Power of Free Candy

Kids today have it so easy. My son gets a Luigi costume at Target, slaps on a fake mustache, then has us drive him around a few minutes so he can come home with enough candy to put Willy Wonka in a ten year coma. Halloween is just a blip between summer and Christmas to my kids. There’s no magic, no sense of adventure anymore.

Back in the 1970s when I was a kid, times were hard and we didn’t mess around. Halloween was Go-Time. The rest of the year my brothers and I rarely got candy (unless you count the Sucrets we stole out of my mom’s purse), so we prepared for this holiday weeks in advance.

And we were entirely on our own. Mom and Dad rarely bought us a costume. We had to cough up our own spooky designs from whatever was lying around the house. And trick-or-treating? Completely unsupervised and lasted until way past bedtime even on a school night, just like God intended.

We’d spend weeks brainstorming wacky homemade costume ideas: “Hey! I know! We can have Dad cut up some of the foam insulation from the attic and make a giant Pac-Man!” We’d analyze which houses would score the biggest payload: “Okay, rumor has it Mrs. Stevens gives out jumbo-sized Snickers but steer clear of Old Mr. Pitts, he throws moldy popcorn balls or crayons at your head and he smells like cheese.”

Once darkness fell, we’d fan out by ourselves clutching our garbage bag costumes. We’d bravely roam the streets, our sad Hobo faces covered in whatever we could scrape out of my dad’s ashtray, and beg perfect strangers for a Charleston Chew.

Whenever I tell my kids about the hardships we faced back then, they interrupt me and say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever, Mom. By the way, that is the dumbest idea for a costume, like, ever, and can you give me back my Kit Kats now? That’s your third one!”

Let’s travel back in time to my childhood Halloweens, shall we?

I’m not sure what I was trying to be here, I’d guess a gypsy, or maybe Laura Ingall’s long-lost Spanish cousin. Either way, it looks like I’m thinking, OH DEAR GOD, please don’t let me be seen in public with these two freakshows! He used up all my Noxzema for this?
I was a witch this year (again) and my brothers were hobos (again). Strangely enough, they didn’t even have to alter their appearance at all. And the hobo sticks came in handy when my brothers threatened to beat me over the head if I didn’t give them my Skittles. Just look into the cold dark eyes of my younger brother and tell me he didn’t intend to mug me later on for all my Pixy Stix.
This year we were all lucky to have ‘store-bought’ costumes. Still, I felt bad for my younger brother who had to trick or treat with Yul Brynner and the freaky-deakiest Raggedy Anne I’ve ever seen.
I’m not sure what’s scarier about this photo, the giant fork and spoon on the wall my brother used to chase me around the house with… the illusion that the entire room is invisible due to my mom’s horrible paint job or the fact that I chose to go trick or treating at the age of 11 dressed up like an Amish hooker.
Finally, my favorite Halloween photo of all-time. You thought I was kidding about the foam insulation Pac Man? It is a sheer miracle my poor brother didn’t suffocate after five minutes in that thing. Oh, and you thought I was joking about the garbage bag? Behold, my genius idea for a costume. Any guess what we were? We had to wear a SIGN to let people know. Probably a good sign it’s a bad costume. 

Well, duh! We were the Fruit of the Loom Grapes!

I think people gave us more candy because they felt so bad for us. Mmm-mmm! Pity tastes delicious!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

___________________________________________________________________________________

Yeah, I admit this post was a re-blog from a post I wrote in 2012. Sorry, but I think eating this Snickers bar is far more important than blogging.

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Humor

Little Post of Horrors

 

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Happy Halloween, kiddos!

It is I, Count Darlacula! [thunder claps] I’m here to share with you an old post I wrote ages ago about things from the past that truly scared the crap out of me. Namely, rotary phones and spaghettiOs.  What could be more horrifying? The above photo? You got me there. In my defense, it was taken before my first morning cup o’ joe. Joe being our next door neighbor and the cup meaning it was filled with his blood and not actual coffee and whatever, you get the idea.

Well, I’ve got to run off to enjoy some more of that delightfully waxy candy corn. I sure hope by next Halloween it finds its way out of my colon.

Meanwhile, ENJOY! (or not)

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The Spooky Tales of My Youth

It’s Halloween again! Gather ’round the fire, kids! Time for some deliciously dark and scary stories!

[cue creepy organ music]

Once upon a dreary time, I was your age and living through the ghastly 1970s and 80s. [lightning flashes] Times were hard during this digital-free era. My daily life was a constant battle between the forces of good and evil.  So many things went bump in the night. How I survived without today’s technology is a mystery.

When I was 12, if I wanted to call up a friend, I had to wait for my stupid brother to get off the phone. That’s right. We had only one line.

[cue Law and Order music–dunn, dunn!]

Countless hours were spent seething with anger and glaring at the phone cord trailing underneath the closed closet door where my older brother whispered sweet nothings (emphasis on the nothings) into his girlfriend-of-the-month’s ears.

But if the planets aligned just right, I could actually get on the phone for a few minutes and enjoy a private conversation–until my father installed a second phone on the same line in the kitchen. [dunn  dunn!]

Then I’d endure hearing the telltale click of one of my brothers picking up the phone on the other line, and their creepy breathing as they listened to my heated private conversation about how I liked Bobby, but Bobby liked Suzy.

The terror of realizing my brother might have heard something super secret would paralyze me with fear. Did he hear what I said? Is he going to blab it to the cool kids at the lunch table tomorrow? Will Bobby know I like him?!  The phone’s ominous click would seep into my dreams. Click! CLICK! CLICK! Oh, the horror!

When the phone wasn’t free, I’d hole myself up in my bedroom in the attic and blast my music.  Yes, we used to have to listen to our music out loud, with no iPod or earbuds. [dunn, dunn!]

I was the proud owner of a giant boxy beast of a stereo, a versatile, top-of-the-line technological marvel for the 80s. Why, I could either slap a record on the turntable up top or slide in one of my famous mixed cassette tapes of the Beatles/Def Leppard into the deck on the bottom.

Yes kids, back then we didn’t have iPods where you could casually flip through thousands of tunes using your magic fingertips. Instead, I had to sift through a dusty old stack of albums then listen to my favorite song skip on the needle.

Hearing John Lennon sing, “Imagine there’s no–Imagine there’s no–” over and over again was horrifying, my blood would run cold. Imagine there’s no what?! I’d cry. No what, John?! Will I ever know what he’s trying to imagine?

Today, I miss listening to music and forcing everyone else within a 10 mile radius to listen to it too.  Sometimes for fun, we’d crank up the volume so loud, the neighbors down the road would call the cops. You can’t pay for that entertainment, people!

If all the scratches on my records made me sad, I’d head out to rent a movie with my parents. It was a dark and stormy night, when I had to get into my Dad’s wood-paneled station wagon and  actually have him drive me to the video rental store. [dunn dunn!]

Yes, before Netflix, before DVDs on Blu-Ray, there was a time when we had to physically go to a place where people stood around like zombies, milling around displays filled with these things called VHS tapes.

Inevitably, you’d arrive all excited to rent the latest hottest flick that finally came out on video after being released five years earlier (“Hot damn! I’m gonna go rent ET tonight!”) only to find that the 55 copies of ET were already taken.

Still you’d desperately try to bring an empty box up to the counter, only to encounter a smug clerk sneering at you,  “If there’s nothing behind the box, there ain’t no movie. Now do you want to buy these 20 dollar Twizzlers or what, pal?”

So I’d slunk on back to my house, “ET”-less, stomach growling and attempt to whip up some food.  Did I zap some frozen meal in my microwave? Please! Only one friend of mine had one of those new-fangled contraptions. It was bigger than the entire kitchen counter and made such a loud buzzing noise we thought for sure we were getting cancer while watching her spaghettiOs splatter.

Are the SpaghettiOs done yet? I’m not sure, but I think my forehead’s melting.

All we had was my grandmother’s old stove that, if we were lucky, used to short-circuit and mildly electrocute us. [dunn, dunn!]

But only if you held a metal spoon just so and turned the loose stove’s dial at the same time. It was quite the science experiment. My brothers discovered this zapping action by accident one afternoon while making spaghetti-o’s and that was all it took. More cheap entertainment. “Hey! Check this out!” one of them would yell, stabbing the metal spoon down into the pan, feeling the tiny yet delicious jolt over and over again until they saw stars. Explains a lot.

Which brings me to regulating body temperature.  Back in my day, we didn’t have air conditioners or those cutting edge fans that oscillate. What did we do when the temperature hit 110 with 150% humidity? We’d sweat. [dunn dunn!]

That’s right. Sweat a lot. My bedroom was upstairs in the attic and it sometimes got so hot up there in the summer, my John Lennon record would melt into a sad Imagine puddle. So I’d whine and moan and cry to my parents. “It’s too hot! I can’t sleep!” And my father would put his hand on my head and say, “Tough cookies, kid”. What a wise man he was for giving me an extra dose of the tough love of the 1970s.

So kids, as you drift off to sleep tonight, watching the latest flick on your iPad, texting away on your smart phone and eating your Hot Pockets in your perfectly temp-controlled bedroom, think of me and the horrors I faced not so long ago.

Nighty night, kiddies!

Oh, and Happy Halloween! (Mua ha haaa!)

Humor

How I Became the World’s Greatest Gamer

Hold onto your Pac-Man hats, kids.  I have a confession to make.

I am a gamer.

And a damned good one.

It all started back in 1979 when I was nine years old. My dad walked into our living room and yelled, “Check this out, guys!”

With a flourish he clicked on our wood-paneled TV. Then the heavens opened, the angels sung and my life changed forevermore.

All due to this remarkable piece of technology:

Pong-CONSOLE

I was hopelessly mesmerized the moment the fuzzy pixelated shapes materialized before my eyes.

What in the world is this? Is this for real? Have we all gone mad? Has all that Mello Yello mixed with Pop Rocks finally fried our brains? It was hard to wrap our heads around what we were witnessing.

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My brothers and I continued to stare, our mouths agape as the ball sloooowly blipped back and forth across the screen from paddle to paddle.

Sure, graphics back then were nothing more than crudely formed rectangles, but we were in control of them! Me! A girl who wore thick tortoise-shell glasses and rainbow Mork suspenders, who had previously spent her days sticking multi-colored pegs into a magic light board!

Yeah, you know what, Dad? This really sucks.
Yeah, you know what, Dad? This really sucks.

Suddenly, we had the power to move objects on a TV screen. Our little minds were officially blown.

And my video game addiction began.

Shortly after Pong, Combat came along. Hallelujah! Thank the glorious Atari gods above!

combat1

This is when my gaming strategy skills really started to take hold. Now I had a little tank that fired and crept slow-as-death across the screen. Why, I could even hide behind barriers!  Sadly, this was my main tactic. My brothers were relentless, always cornering me, then spraying me with a steady barrage of ammunition, effectively blowing my spinning tank around the screen like a sad discarded piece of garbage.

Yet those brutal early gaming days taught me resolve, to never give up in my quest to achieve those impossible goals.

Like crossing the damn road without becoming a frog pancake.

Frogger_-_1983_-_Parker_Brothers

untitled (3)Frogger was the game where everything gelled. My skills grew by leaps and bounds. A fire burned in my belly, my focus sharpened. As God is my witness, I will save Frogger! My eyes would twitch as I gripped the Atari joystick, ignoring the gnawing ache in my thumb from pressing the little red button over and over again. Ignoring all forms of human contact. Ignoring food, water or toilet. My ultimate goal in life?  To be the best gamer that ever lived. Or at least better than my butthead brothers.

My tween years flew by in a blur of pixelated images:

…there I was, swinging on a vine across precarious pits filled with snapping crocodiles!

imagesCABGWZ0S

…transporting a stunningly ugly but oddly sweet creature back home!

original

…gobbling up ghosts while sporting a lovely pink bow!

imagesCALGX8ON

Then the love of my life finally entered the picture and captured my heart.

He was short, dark, handsome and unplugged toilets in his spare time.

super-mario-world-1

It was the summer of 1990 and I was back home from college. I knew I had to work overtime at L.L. Bean’s folding turtlenecks to pay the big bucks it would cost to get my trigger-happy hands on the holy grail of gaming:

the Super Nintendo.

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And every single penny was worth it. Worth the 15 hours a day I sat there and played Super Mario Bros. until my eyes bled. I was so good at that game, my brother and his friends would often begrudgingly ask me to help them get through the more difficult levels. 

“Oh!” I’d say smugly. “You’re telling me Mario has to run, double jump, twirl, spin, flip, morph into a raccoon, THEN dive onto Bowser’s head three times in rapid succession, all while avoiding shooting laser beams and fiery pits of death? Hand me the controller. Watch and learn, my friends. Watch. And. Learn.”

Dear Bowzer, my name is Mario. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
Dear Bowser, my name is Mario. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

I could defeat any game with one hand and both eyes closed.

Gee, that’s terrific, Darla, you snicker. So you’re good at doing something really stupid and completely meaningless? Did you ever even see the sun once during your childhood? You must be so proud.

Well, first off, I do know the sun somewhat resembles a circle, and I’m guessing it’s similar to the gold coins Mario likes to collect.

Secondly, I am very proud, thank you. This weekend I plan on playing Mario Kart 7 on my son’s Wii, making sure he eats my wake so I can gloat in his face the rest of the week. Of course, this will be after I help my husband get through the harder levels in the new Tomb Raider. Yes, there will be much gloating all-around.

And they said my gaming skills would never amount to anything.

****

What was your favorite video game as a kid?  I will bet you I’ve played it and scored a million points.

If you’ve never played a video game, what other useless skills do you possess?

blogger of the month

Firsts and Lasts with Angie from Childhood Relived

One fine day a couple years ago, I stumbled upon a humor blog that was hipper than Mrs. Brady’s polyester pant suit, cooler than Shrinky Dinks, and funnier than the fact there was a character on the sitcom Growing Pains named Boner.

angie banner

Angie, the self-described ‘bratass’ from the blog, Childhood Relived, put a humorous spin on 1970s and ’80s pop culture using her own special blend of Pop Rocks and Riunite on Ice.

Her brilliant writing never failed to make me laugh. Plus rumor has it she was once cast as an original member of the beloved Keaton family.

Sha la la la, indeed.
Sha la la la, indeed.

And I’m almost certain she had a bit part on Saved by the Bell: Screech’s Puberty Years

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Then something big happened. After being Freshly Pressed numerous times and ruling the WordPress Recommended Humor Blog page for months — she had to go and get pregnant.

Continue reading “Firsts and Lasts with Angie from Childhood Relived”

Humor

So Here’s the Thing About Driving…

Driver’s Ed taught me many things:

  • maintain at least two car lengths behind the car in front of you at all times
  • always yield when making a left turn
  • never casually toss your strawberry Hubba Bubba gum out the window while driving 70 mph
Dangerous to your hair.
Dangerous to your hair.

But my dad’s sage advice proved to be the most valuable.

“Darla,” he said, “never ever under any circumstances back up your car with your door open.”

Continue reading “So Here’s the Thing About Driving…”

Humor

Dear Diary, I Hate You

IMG_2339

BlogIcon_zps25d7643cRenée A. Schuls-Jacobson–mother, teacher, accomplished blogger and writer–is running an intriguing series, So Wrong. She wanted us to dig deep and cough up some of our most embarrassing, humiliating moments. Things that actually taught us a lesson. Not surprisingly, my well of embarrassing moments was deep, but rarely did I ever learn a lesson. Please.

Except this one time in the early 1980s when I was mortified beyond belief in front of the boy I really, really liked in seventh grade.  It involved much pining and crying. And Reeboks and jean jackets. Also, I might have boogied to The Safety Dance.  I made sure to document it all in my cherished diary. (Which is like, totally, like, real and all. Like, Seriously.)

In seventh grade, I wore my heart on my sleeve. Also my boob.
In seventh grade, I wore my heart on my sleeve. Also my boob.

So if you want to take a trip back to the ’80s and experience my unrequited love, you don’t want to miss this story —>Dear Diary, I Hate You. Be sure to check out the other humiliating stories while you’re there. Feel free to leave your own embarrassing story in the comments. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.

sowrong

Humor

Behold, the Power of Free Candy

Kids today have it so easy. My son gets a complete Luigi costume at Target, slaps on a fake mustache, has us drive him around a few minutes, then comes home with enough candy to put Willy Wonka in a ten year coma. Halloween is just a blip between summer and Christmas to my kids. There’s no magic, no sense of adventure anymore.

Back in the 1970s, when I was a kid, times were hard and we didn’t mess around—Halloween was Go-Time. The rest of the year, my brothers and I rarely got candy (unless you count the Sucrets we stole out of my mom’s purse), so we prepared for this holiday weeks in advance.

Plus, we were entirely on our own. Mom and Dad rarely bought us a costume. We had to cough up our own spooky designs from whatever was lying around the house. And trick-or-treating? Completely unsupervised and lasted until way past bedtime, even on a school night, just like God intended.

We’d spend weeks brainstorming wacky homemade costume ideas: “Hey! I know! We can have Dad cut up some of the foam insulation from the attic and make a giant Pac-Man!” We’d analyze which houses would score the biggest payload: “Okay, rumor has it Mrs. Stevens doles out jumbo-sized Snickers so be sure to hit her up first… but steer clear of Old Mr. Pitts, he throws nothing but moldy popcorn balls or crayons at your head and he smells like cheese.”

Once darkness fell, we’d fan out by ourselves and bravely trek the streets, clutching our garbage bag costumes, our sad Hobo faces covered in whatever we could scrape out of my dad’s ashtray, and beg perfect strangers for a Charleston Chew.

Whenever I tell my kids about the hardships we faced back then, they interrupt me and say, “Yeah, yeah…whatever, Mom. By the way, that is the dumbest idea for a costume, like, ever, and can you give me back my Kit Kat now? That’s your third one!”

Let’s travel back in time to my childhood Halloweens, shall we?

I’m not sure what I was trying to be here, I’d guess a gypsy, or maybe Laura Ingall’s long-lost Spanish cousin. Either way, it looks like I’m thinking, OH DEAR GOD, please don’t let me be seen in public with these two freakshows! He used up all my Noxzema for this?
I was a witch this year (again) and my brothers were hobos (again). Strangely enough, they didn’t even have to alter their appearance at all. And the hobo sticks came in handy when my brothers threatened to beat me over the head if I didn’t give them my Skittles. Just look into the cold, dark eyes of my younger brother and tell me he didn’t intend to mug me later on for all my Pixy Stix.
This year we were all lucky to have ‘store-bought’ costumes. Still, I felt bad for my younger brother, having to trick or treat with Yul Brynner and the freaky-deakiest Raggedy Anne I’ve ever seen.
I’m not sure what’s scarier about this photo, the giant fork and spoon on the wall my brother used to chase me around the house with… the illusion that the entire room is invisible due to my mom’s horrible paint job or the fact that I chose to go trick or treating at the age of 11 dressed up like an Amish hooker.
Finally, my favorite Halloween photo of all-time. You thought I was kidding about the foam insulation Pac Man? It is a sheer miracle my poor brother didn’t suffocate after five minutes in that thing. Oh, and you thought I was joking about the garbage bag? Behold, my genius idea for a costume. Any guess what we were? We had to wear a SIGN to let people know. Probably a good sign it’s not a very good costume. If you can guess what we were in the comments below, I’ll ship you a truckload of Twix.

UPDATE: The mystery of the trash bag costume has been revealed by the too-brilliant-for-her-own-good

Speaker7

She correctly guessed we were:

The Fruit of the Loom Grapes!! Congrats, Speaker7!

**********

Happy Halloween! Care to share any really horrible and lame costumes you once had as a kid?

Humor

The Spooky Tales of My Youth

It’s Halloween again! Gather ’round the fire, kids! Time for some deliciously dark and scary stories!

(cue creepy organ music)

Once upon a dreary time, I was your age and living through the ghastly 1970s and 80s. (lightning flashes) Times were hard during this digital-free era; my daily life was a constant battle between the forces of good and evil.  So many things went bump in the night. How I survived without today’s technology is a mystery.

When I was 12, if I wanted to call up a friend, I had to wait for my stupid brother to get off the phone. That’s right. We had only one line.

(cue Law and Order music–dunn, dunn!)

Countless hours were spent seething with anger and glaring at the phone cord trailing underneath the closed closet door where my older brother whispered sweet nothings (emphasis on the nothings) into his girlfriend-of-the-month’s ears.

But if the planets aligned just right, I could actually get on the phone for a few minutes and enjoy a private conversation–until my father installed a second phone on the same line in the kitchen. (dunn  dunn!)

Then I’d endure hearing the telltale click of one of my brothers picking up the phone on the other line, quietly breathing and listening to my heated private conversation about how I liked Bobby, but Bobby liked Suzy.

The terror of realizing my brother might have heard something super secret would paralyze me with fear. Did he hear what I said? Is he going to blab it to the cool kids at the lunch table tomorrow? Will Bobby know I like him?!  The phone’s ominous click would seep into my dreams. Click! CLICK! CLICK! Oh, the horror!

When the phone wasn’t free, I’d hole myself up in my bedroom in the attic and blast my music.  Yes, we used to have to listen to our music out loud, with no iPod or earbuds. (dunn, dunn!)

I was the proud owner of a giant boxy beast of a stereo. It was versatile, top-of-the-line technology for the 80s. I could either slap a record on the turntable up top or slide in one of my famous mixed cassette tapes of the Beatles/Def Leppard into the deck on the bottom.

See, back then we didn’t have iPods where you could casually flip through thousands of tunes using your magic fingertips. Instead, I had to sift through a dusty old stack of albums, then listen to my favorite song skip on the needle.

Hearing John Lennon sing, “Imagine there’s no–Imagine there’s no–” over and over again was horrifying, my blood would run cold. Imagine there’s no what?! I’d cry. No what, John?! Will I ever know what he’s trying to imagine?

Today, I miss listening to music and forcing everyone else within a 10 mile radius to listen to it too.  Sometimes for fun, we’d crank up the volume so loud, the neighbors down the road would call the cops. You can’t pay for that entertainment, people.

If all the scratches on my records made me sad, I’d head out to rent a movie with my parents. It was a dark and stormy night, when I had to get into my Dad’s wood-panelled station wagon and  actually have him drive me to the video rental store. (dunn dunn!)

Yes, before netflix, before DVDs on Blu-Ray, there was a time when we had to physically go to a place where people stood around like zombies, milling around displays filled with these things called VHS tapes.

Inevitably, you’d arrive all excited to rent the latest hottest flick that finally came out on video after being released five years earlier (“Hot damn! I’m gonna go rent ET tonight!”) only to find that the 55 copies of ET were already taken.

Still you’d desperately try to bring an empty box up to the counter, only to encounter a smug clerk sneering at you,  “if there’s nothing behind the box, there ain’t no movie. Now do you want to buy these 20 dollar Twizzlers or what, pal?”

Are the Spaghettio’s done yet? No, but my skull feels like it’s melting.

So I’d slunk on back to my house, “ET”-less, stomach growling and attempt to whip up some food.  Did I zap some frozen meal in my microwave? Please! Only one friend of mine had one of those new-fangled contraptions. It was bigger than the entire kitchen counter and made such a loud buzzing noise we thought for sure we were getting cancer while watching her spaghettio’s splatter.

All we had was my grandmother’s old stove that, if we were lucky, used to short-curcuit and mildly electrocute us. (dunn, dunn!)

But only if you held a metal spoon just so and turned the loose stove’s dial at the same time. It was quite the science experiment. My brothers discovered this zapping action by accident one afternoon while making spaghettio’s and that was all it took. More cheap entertainment. “Hey! Check this out!” one of them would yell, stabbing the metal spoon down into the pan, feeling the tiny yet delicious jolt over and over again until they saw stars. Explains a lot.

Which brings me to regulating body temperature.  Back in my day, we didn’t have air conditioners or those cutting edge fans that oscillate. What did we do when the temperature hit 110 with 150% humidity? We’d sweat. (dunn dunn!)

That’s right. Sweat a lot. My bedroom was upstairs in the attic and it sometimes got so hot up there in the summer, my John Lennon record would melt into a sad Imagine puddle. So I’d whine and moan and cry to my parents. “It’s too hot! I can’t sleep!” And my father would put his hand on my head and say, “Tough cookies, kid”. What a wise man he was for giving me an extra dose of the tough love of the 1970s.

So kids, as you drift off to sleep tonight, watching the latest flick on your iPad, texting away on your smart phone and eating your Hot Pockets in your perfectly temp-controlled bedroom, think of me and the horrors I faced not so long ago. Nighty night, kiddies!

Oh, and Happy Halloween! (Mua ha haaa!)