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

 

Slide1

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)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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!)

Uncategorized

I Think the Fox Says, “Never Eat Raisinitos”

Hey guys! Happy Halloween from Merida and Luigi!

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I’ve got a few quick questions for you. I’m trying to keep my pulse on the popular culture, so I can stay hip, down with the groove and all that jazz.

My son tells me I should start by not calling it ‘the popular culture’.
Whatevs, dude.

I need your help to clear some things up for me. I take it most of you young whippersnappers enjoy mindlessly clicking on things?

So c’mon! Let’s poll the night away, kids!

What does Kim Kardashian actually do all day long?

kim-kardashian

Is What Does The Fox Say? song straight from the gates of Hell?

cn_image.size_.what-does-the-fox-say-video

What does ‘twerking’ mean?

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Celebrity Sightings

What should I hand out to the trick-or-treaters this Halloween?

halloween-candy-by-phanton-kitty

Okay, that’s enough. Thanks for your valuable input.

And in the spirit of Halloween, I invite you all to visit Go Jules Go right now to see a video she made of Mr. Maineiac and Lil’ Maineiac (my 11-year-old son) and other bloggers taste-test a ridiculous flavor combo of Doritos mixed with Raisinets.

Click here—-> EPIC POST ALERT. (They even tried it with Cool Ranch to add an extra amount of Blech.)

What is the oddest/most disgusting flavor combination of food you’ve tried and actually liked? Leave it in the comments so I’ll be sure to never try it.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Be sure to stay tuned for my Blogger of the Month interview tomorrow, Nicole of The Middlest Sister — it’s also pretty dang epic.

Humor

How to Really Freak Out Your Kids

Want to give your children a fright this Halloween? Really give them the heebie-jeebies?

Here’s one sure-fire way to scare them silly. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to a public place with your kid.
  2. Make sure there are lots of your child’s friends around.
  3. Be yourself.

Boo! It’s that easy!

My kids are still fairly young, but they’re already plenty embarrassed by mom and dad whenever their friends come over to play. Especially when we do things like pinch their cheeks, tell detailed stories about their potty training days or bust into the cabbage patch dance for no reason. But really, if we simply stood beside them breathing, it’d be mortifying enough for our kids to run away screaming.

Just today, I mentioned to my daughter how I planned on visiting her at school tomorrow to eat lunch with her class.

“What? What?” she yelled, jumping up from the kitchen table.

“I want to share lunch with you in the cafeteria! Tomorrow! With your little friends! It’ll be so much fun! I might even see your teach–”

“Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no, NO,” my daughter said, waving her hand in the air. “Oh. No. Way. No way do I want you there! Please don’t come, Mom! Please!”

“What?” I asked, a bit taken aback by her outburst. “Why not?”

“It’ll be too….too…freaky,” she said with a shudder.

“Freaky? But I’ll share my chicken nuggets with you, how’s that sound? Huh? Not freaky at all! And you can tell me about your day…and I can talk with your friends and–”

“Mom! It’s the way you eat! I don’t like the way you eat!”

“The way I eat? And how do I eat?”

“You always eat like this,” (she stared blankly off into space and pretended to shovel food into her mouth, slowly chewing it in a robotic daze)

“Gee, I’m sorry. I’ll try to eat my food in a more animated way next time.”

“Good.  But I still don’t want you there, sorry, Mom,” she said as she reached over and patted my hand. “But you can eat dinner with me tomorrow when I get home, okay?”

I’d like to take a moment here to point out my daughter is barely six years old. I’m afraid the teen years don’t bode well for this mama.

So I’ve decided not to visit my daughter at school after all. Wouldn’t want to traumatize the poor girl. But tonight, my husband and I might plan on busting out a fairly badass couples’ costume while we’re trick-or-treating with the kids. Just for the kicks and giggles.

Or maybe I’ll just sit in the car and not be seen in public with them, remaining at least 50 feet away at all times, the way things are meant to be.

Happy Halloween from Merida and Luigi! May you and your hellions have loads of sugar-laden but embarrassment-free fun tonight!

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 · Uncategorized

Fritter Friday

So apparently

…I have changed my blog theme around 72 times since I started blogging last year. And each time I’ve noticed something odd–I keep choosing text that is significantly bigger on the screen. This means I am either losing my eyesight at a much faster rate than I thought, or I need to invest in glasses that don’t cost 12 bucks at Target. Eventually, I fear my posts will be have to be read one giant word at a time. I apologize in advance.

…I have to post more on this blog so I can generate more “hits” and possibly more comments. If I don’t post something, anything, for a few weeks, I may risk losing readers. I had a total of 7 hits on my blog yesterday. In a strange coincidence, I looked up She’s a Maineiac 7 times on the display iPhone at Target until the clerk asked me to leave when I started crying.

…I need to do some more research on the proper use of colons and semicolons: I’m not sure if I’m doing it right; I’m not sure if I use them too much; I’m sure it’s getting distracting for you readers out there: Am I right? I’ll try to stop; but: I can’t promise anything.

…I’ve been sucked into the Twitter madness. I’ve received lots of requests to follow me lately. (Wait, that makes no sense) Anyway, following myself is going to be hard. But I keep getting these emails for twitter. Do I accept this person as my cult member/follower or blatantly disregard them and toss them aside, thereby cementing the fact that I hate twitter but will be forever behind in this technological age?

Well, after I got over the initial shock that I even have a twitter account (I think I signed up one night in the midst of some moderate wine-drinking) I’ve decided to take the tweety plunge. Now if I could just figure out how to put twitter on my blog’s sidebar with the widget doohicky whazzitdoodle—I’ll be cranking out twitty tweets in no time. It’s quite the challenge bringing my inane thoughts to you in 140 characters or less. I may have to employ my husband as he’s a man of few words, and usually they are: Yes, Dear. I know, Dear. You’re so right, Dear. Why don’t you go blog about it instead of telling me, Dear?

My pumpkin barely survived the "This Blows!" Snowstorm of Halloween 2011

…I am a pathetic slave to technology. What is almost as bad as having no heat and electricity? Having no cable TV, internet or phone. This past weekend, during the “Holla!Surprise, it’s Me, Winter!Oh, Snap! ween” storm, our electricity flickered once then came right back on. We were lucky. (I know how lucky as I survived the Ice Storm of ’98 when I had no heat or running water for 2 weeks and my toilet cracked right around the same time I did.)

But when my husband clicked the TV on, only to be met with some digital snow, (that was his joke) all hell broke loose. It was Sunday, people. No football. Not to mention the fact that it was quiet in our house. Dead calm. The kind of unnerving quiet that gets under your skin and slowly drives you insane. The kind of mind-numbing hush they must have endured all winter in the Little House until Pa broke out his fiddle. The kind of silence where you can only hear the soft swish of your blood as it pulses through your veins. The kind of noiselessness you get after you’ve been at a heavy metal rock concert for a few hours, then go home and your ears are buzzing so loud they start to bleed.

The first few hours we were okay.  We talked to each other. We even had back and forth conversations with some occasional eye contact.  Then the withdrawal began. I simply told them, no, they couldn’t watch Phineas and Ferb and no, they couldn’t watch Netflix and no, they couldn’t play Dora on the computer and no, they—are you sensing my irritation yet? Finally, the kids gave up and went outside in their shorts to go sledding (Al Gore was so right). After plugging and unplugging the modem several hundred times, my husband gave up and sat down to read a book.  I grabbed my latest Oprah magazine and my glasses, and tried to read, but I kept getting distracted by all the noise of us breathing. At one point I could hear the universe humming. I think it sounded like the C note on the piano.

After two days of this, the cable line was repaired and it finally came back on. I rushed to the computer to see what I had missed and I was astonished to realize that nothing had happened. It was almost as if my existence on the internet didn’t matter.

…my kids have trained me well. Why is it that my kids can sense the split second I sit down, so they can then ask me to get them something? I could be in the kitchen, holding the milk, asking them if they want any, waving the carton in their faces, hovering the milk over their glasses in mid-drip– then later on, the nanosecond my butt hits a chair they ask for milk? Is this something they teach them at school? How to Drive Your Poor Mom Crazy–Lesson One: Hey, kids! Be sure to tell her you need something only after she sits down! Then after she gets if for you and sits down again, ask her for something else! Repeat all day long until you see steam coming out of her ears! Reminds me of the movie A Christmas Story,  “My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in fifteen years.”

_________________________________________________________________

Well, lucky for you dear readers, that’s all I’ve got for this random Fritter Friday post. (Whenever I see the word “fritter” I get hungry, so I’m off to go eat.)  Happy weekend, my friends!

reflections · Uncategorized

The Footsteps on the Stairs

Each night, the footsteps were the same; deliberate and heavy. The
sound would slice into my hazy dreams, and I’d drift helplessly back into the
world. My eyes would start to focus, gradually taking in the shadows lurking in my room.
In the corner, my dresser would morph into a dark shape of some menacing,
faceless monster, crouched and ready to pounce. A creeping,
gnawing feeling of being stripped bare, vulnerable and exposed, would begin to
crawl up my spine and seep into my thoughts. A shaft of pale
moonlight would stream through the gingham curtains of my
bedroom’s narrow windows, illuminating them like a pair of glowing pink eyes. Night after night, I would slowly pull my crocheted afghan up to my ears and wait to hear it again.

If my breathing was still enough, maybe I wouldn’t.

Thwick, thwick. Thwick, thwick. Thwick, Thwick.

I knew the sounds weren’t of this earth. Incredibly, the noises
seemed to be oozing and dripping with every step. Some nights, I imagined the
footsteps were of a slimy creature from the murky depths of the ocean. I was
convinced a giant menacing octopus was mucking across my grandmother’s pea green
kitchen linoleum and heading straight for my bedroom door. Yet as soon as I
would hear them, they would disappear again, melting into the symphony of the
crickets softly chirping outside my window.

But this night was different.

Thwick, thwick. Thwick, thwick, thwick, thwick–

The footsteps hesitated. The door to the basement, right
outside my bedroom, slowly opened, producing a
high-pitched screech that sent a lightning bolt of panic down my back. The warm
lump at the foot of my bed began to move. My dog raised her head, nose
twitching, as she cocked one ear toward the sound. Peeking through the delicate
holes in the afghan, I noticed the moonlight sparkling, tiny diamonds dancing in her brown eyes. I drew in a sharp breath then slowly let it back out, producing a feeling of
comforting warmth inside my little cocoon.

Suddenly, she heaved herself off my canopy bed and landed on the
pink rug below, sending herself sliding across the hardwood floor. She
scrambled back up, her nails clicking on the wood, and leaped toward the
bedroom door. Her tail wagged furiously as she looked up at the ceiling, ready
to greet this nightly visitor. Or thing.

The squishy steps resumed and I held my breath as I heard them going
down into the basement, each stair creaking under their weight. I threw off the
covers and glanced at the clock by my bed. 2:30 the bright red display flashed,
taunting me. The terror of a possible burglar in our home seized my racing
mind as the back of my neck turned to ice. I jumped out of my bed and stood frozen in the bone white moonlight.

The crickets were silent. My dog began to whine at the ceiling.

“Shh!” I hissed through clenched teeth. I tiptoed barefoot toward the
door and peered through the crack.

The kitchen was empty. I held my breath as I took one step onto the cold linoleum. In response, the footsteps on the stairs abruptly stopped, leaving me to listen to the refrigerator’s low hum. The light above the stove flickered. My dog
was now at the top of the basement steps, tail wagging in slow circles as she
peered down into the darkness. She gently barked and the tags on her collar jingled,
startling me out of my reverie.

I knew I had to look.

I rested my shaking hand on my dog’s head. “What’s down
there, girl?” I whispered.

The dusty basement steps didn’t answer.

Closing my eyes, I reached into the shadows to find the light switch. With a loud click,
I heard the faint crackle and buzz of the bare light bulb hanging at the foot
of the stairs.  Electricity surged through every cell of my body. The hair on my neck prickled as my eyes adjusted to the bright yellow light.  I crept halfway down the steps, scanning the dirty cement floor. The walls were thick with shadows and cobwebs. The washer and dryer sat silently in the corner, dirty laundry still waiting in a pile in the basket. My dog sat down at the foot of the steps, looked up at the ceiling and whimpered.

The next morning, I sat at the kitchen table, bleary-eyed from
the night before. My mother placed a carton of orange juice in front of me and
turned back to the pancakes browning on the stove.

“Hey, did you leave the basement light on last night?”
she asked over her shoulder, stacking the pancakes onto a plate.

“Yeah, sorry,” I mumbled. I gulped some orange
juice and looked down at my dog, curled up at my feet. She raised her head and
seemed to look right through me with her liquid brown eyes. I nervously twirled
my hair around my fingers.

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“Can I ask you something? And promise me you won’t think I’m
crazy.”

“Well, I’ll try,” she laughed. “What’s up?”
she asked, sitting down across from me.

“Is this house haunted? I mean, have you ever heard a ghost
here? Or sounds?”

“Why do you ask?” My mother’s eyebrows arched and she sipped
her coffee.

“I heard something. Well, every night I hear something.
Footsteps–going downstairs into the basement. And they sound, oh I don’t
know…they sound almost squishy or wet. I know, I know.  It’s crazy.” I sighed and picked at the pancakes in front of me.

“Oh!” My mother laughed. “That’s just your
grandfather,” she said and waved her hand at me. He’s probably just come
back from fishing. I hear him sometimes, too.”

My grandfather grew up loving the great outdoors. He often spent
his time hunting and fishing, never passing up a chance to go camping. When my
mother was a little girl, she remembers her dad happily coming home after another
weekend fishing trip up in the dense forest of northern Maine. He’d stroll into
the kitchen with his catch, kiss my grandmother on the cheek and hand the fish
over to be cleaned for that night’s supper. Then he’d walk down into the
basement in his muddy hunting boots to put away his fishing gear and tackle box. For
my mom, these were some of her warmest memories of her father.

He died at the age of 53, long before I was born.

The following night after the conversation at breakfast, I heard the familiar steps again. I smiled and looked up at the ceiling. “Hi, Grandpa. I can hear you, you know,” I whispered.
“Did you catch some fish again?” I added, giggling, unsure of why I
was talking to the air. Almost expecting an answer, I listened, holding my
breath.

The footsteps stopped.  The crickets’ chirping grew louder, and I knew the night would hold onto the secrets of this world a little longer. The soothing glow of the pale moonlight enveloped me once again as I stroked my dog’s silky ears and sighed. Looking into her eyes, I felt she knew these secrets well.

I never heard the footsteps again.

__________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading.

Happy Halloween to all of my blogging friends and readers!

I want to thank you all for your support and kindness with your positive comments.

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!)