Tuesday, November 15, 2011


     Not too long ago - what's two weeks? - we celebrated an "un-happy" Halloween.  Of course, we did not do it on October 31.  Rather, due to scheduling constraints, my Halloween missive was posted on October 29.  Ergo, "un", found its way, as I'm certain you have surmised, into the title.  I think the time has come, dear reader, given the honesty and candor that are the hallmarks of our relationship - such as it is - to reveal the literary Hoochie Coochie lurking in the wings whilst Halloween played itself out center stage.
        (In fact - and hindsight, the clarity of which is legend - I NOW realize that the collage of images that left us with that 'happy-ever-after' glow, emanated from the warm, crackling, dancing flames of ALL the 'happies' in our lifetime of Halloween 'play-acting'.  But that's another story - which we'll not hear today.  No.  I'll just refrain, be disciplined; ZIP IT.)
      You see a delightful, creative gal in a writers' group to which I belong - we'll call her Janet, because that's her name - suggested we 'play' a writing Trick or Treat game.  She had us warming up at the barre for weeks until the choreographic rules were set.  PLACES!  We would each enter a challenge/assignment; execute it on 10/31; include concise, instructions and - ENCORE! - offer a "Treat" to the best contenders.  Enthusiasm ran high as did the entrants.  That is, there were an impressive NUMBER of players - in case you were picturing besotted writers jogging aimlessly and amok.
      I fretted over my 'treat' as the competition was stiff - autographed books, free professionally-illustrated book covers, thousands of edited pages of an inchoate manuscript - you know, grown-up stuff.  I finally decided to offer 5" by 7" collages of my favorite Halloween photos over the past 50 or so yrs.  The lucky recipients needed only to visit my blog, leaving a comment on Halloween and be one of the ten pluckiest/most riveting of said comments.
      (Through no fault of mine, I feel a zipper sliding open.  Blame it on faulty technology, overbearing Catholic guilt that haunts the liar, that ole Jungian feminine quest for completion, the weather - whatever.  But here's what happened.  Having assembled 33 photos - circa 1950 through 2011 - I 'plugged' them into my handy collage-maker and received the condemning news that only 26 made the cut - as they say.
      Panic consumed me.  Which 26? Were 'key', prized entries rejected? Was this daemonic "app" just out to get me?  Steeling myself, I squinted - a 'meanie' squint - as the chosen were paraded, in a perfect geometrical, circular reel-of-misfortune, on the monitor.  Selecting a 50% overlap with authority, I clicked "create".  Naturally, the 7 rejects were stellar components of the finished piece.  BUT.  "Foiled!", I shouted as my squinted visual acuity, now enhanced, perceived the absence of star-quality images I'd - in my excited haste - neglected to scan.  Ha.  Guilty Christians 1; App Lions 0.)
      Given the size of the field, visiting all entrants' blogs and accommodating the 'trick' was time-consuming.  Then printing, laminating and packaging my ten recipients brought me to 11/15.  That's what "two weeks" is.  I've been contacting them to extract snail mail addresses lo, these past 12 hours.  To be sure, the grown-up winners, by now, have read their prize books, approved their illustrations and changed their edited manuscripts.  Beware the 'seemingly simple'.
      (So be it.  I simply cannot/will not desecrate my treat by NOT including the entire pictorial story. Unfortunately, I was only able to find a segment of the image, but I give you Bill.  A new next-door neighbor in the 80's, Bill came over to inquire of my husband as to whether the parents wore costumes when escorting their kids Halloween night. Mom always used to say, "The Devil's always busy."  Now my impish, Irish husband always wore hand- painted boxer shorts, a t-shirt; bow tie, a Groucho Marx nose/mustache mask; a trench coat on this special night. He went, if you asked, as a "flasher".  So, to Bill's query, he said, "Why, of course."  Dear Bill, a brilliant lawyer & very kind friend/dad, spent en entire week meticulously building a perfect, multi-colored Rubik Cube which revealed only his head and legs - knees to shoes.  And such a good sport.  Had us over for ice cream sundaes that night.
The flasher, seen left, didn't ALWAYS present with such panache.  There were times when his son was the ONLY guy who would be seen with him - for obvious reasons.  His biker outfit was intended to be a costume.  The above has no justification.  Ironically,  only our (his) dog was left out.Bridie, as you can see, was NOT as willing a participant in looking-the-fool as some other folk. And our own children were often in agreement with her.

At age four, our oldest, Philip, announced he would not speak at the school Halloween party.  Therefore, he was clad in an absurd multi-color fro; clown suit and carried a horn.  "You needn't say a word," I admonished, escorting him to the bus, "Just honk." 
 Our youngest refused to speak at age 3, so she wore green tights and a leotard. Festooned with purple balloons, she went out as a bunch of grapes.  The following year, Mommy had the flu, the flasher was carving pumpkins and once again, Jennie decided she was not going to speak.  The tree to your right was the result.  Their children did not suffer the same afflictions.  Emma, Jen's daughter, was delighted to trot her royal stuff and although "Harpo's" daughter, Molly, was not a merry bumble bee, she loved her role as a toddler jockey and bounced right along to her conquering pirate this year.)


I believe the recipients in our writing performance will not only agree, but, hopefully, conjure up some happy nostalgia of their own.  Perhaps, you will as well.  Later, Lorane. . . .
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