Archive for October, 2003

Halloween is Fun..no, really

Halloween is fun.  That’s my stance.  Any holiday that features free candy must be empirically good.  In order to experience Halloween successfully, you need to have a good costume (unlike my roommate Mike, who wore a Santa hat and a t-shirt with the word “Costume” written on it to our party last year).  These days, my main criteria for a costume is that it can’t involve a mask, or anything else that might prevent me from drinking beer.  Some people take themselves too seriously to wear costumes to a party.  These “serious” people probably want to read a column about the sniper in Washington D.C., but the only thing I want to talk about is how many people will “go there” and dress up in sniper outfits on October 31 (as a side note, however, what are the chances that, when this sniper is caught, he/she will say that he/she got the idea from watching The Jerk?).  Adult Halloween parties, inappropriate costumes or not, can’t hold a candle to the free candy involved in the trick-or-treating of my youth.

I suspect that most kids have horror stories about the costumes of their childhood.  One year, when I was about 10, my otherwise sane mother made me dress up as a GIRL to go trick-or-treating.  I fought and fought with her about it, but she thought it was a wonderful idea (I remember how tickled she was when she saw me decked out in full girl regalia) and sent me out onto the street wearing a dress and makeup, with a red pocketbook to hold the candy.  The entire night can be described as one long crying and screaming fit, and produced the lowest candy yield of my entire trick-or-treating career.  My neighbors opened their doors, expecting cute little goblins and witches, only to see a sobbing miniature drag queen on their doorstep.  Thankfully, this incident occurred before my parents bought a video camera and began taping everything they do (True story:  The first time the Megger met my father, he was holding a video camera.  He continued to roll tape while he shook her hand from behind the camera).  Note to my college friends:  NO, this story does not “explain a lot”.

My mother was also a strict enforcer of the “Winter coat over the costume” rule.  My point was that  the entire mystique of Batman, dark yet cool crime fighter, was destroyed when Batman was wearing a parka.  Her counterpoint was something about her being my mother and I had better do what she said and blah, blah, blah.  So, every year I would put on those uncomfortable masks, the ones with the eye and mouth holes that didn’t line up and the elastic that cut holes in the place where my ears meet my skull, and go out into the neighborhood dressed as Cold Weather Batman. 

The older kids in the neighborhood also singled out Cold Weather Batman for special attention.  None of my friends wore jackets over their costumes (at last check, they were all alive and without pneumonia), so when an older kid decided that it was time to try to rip off someone’s bag of candy, which of the Super Friends do you think he chose?  For the record, he DID NOT get my candy (Batman had a strong grip), and the coat provided good protection from his punches.  Justice prevailed, despite the fact that there were none of those balloons with the word “BLAM!” in them every time a punch was thrown (mostly by him), nor was there any cool “Batman is getting beat up” theme music.

The bully who tried to steal my candy was one of those kids who tend to show up on the doorstep late, asking for candy without having bothered with a costume.  These kids are usually old enough to shave, and should be beaten with a rubber hose for infringing upon a tradition that should remain “kids-only”, but most people just keep their mouths shut and hand over the candy, realizing that a failure to do so could have a direct effect upon their property values.  These bullies usually grow up to star on TV shows like Cops.  I haven’t paid attention to what happened to the bully who tried to steal my candy but I hope that he is currently being traded as currency in a prison somewhere (line stolen from My Cousin Vinny).   

My mother wasn’t always unreasonable about my costumes.  One year she allowed me to dress up in my father’s blue Air Force uniform and hat with an old pipe (unlit) in my mouth.  Some picture of Douglas MacArthur had given me the idea that any proper military officer wouldn’t dare to venture out in public without a pipe hanging from his lip.  The costume was great until I got sent home by some kid in a Harry Truman costume (Ok, not really).  Seriously, though, I walked all over town while sucking on that unlit pipe, and by the time I got home I wasn’t feeling very well.  My hard-earned candy was left unguarded against the attacks of my older siblings while I spent the remainder of the night and most of the next day barking out orders to the commode.  By the time I was ready to eat my candy, there were only empty wrappers left in the bag and to this day, whenever I get a sour stomach, I taste pipe.

   My friend Dan insists that once every five years it’s important to give out full blown candy bars on Halloween, rather than the mini-sized ones.  He says that it’s worth the investment because it’s the easiest way to curry favor with the local kid populace, and your house will be protected from egging and general mischief.  

  There was one family in my town that always gave out full blown candy bars, and I still remember them with fondness.  There were other families in town that were viewed a bit less favorably.  These families would have been better off if they had just left their porch light off, rather than handing out any of the following:  Bags of popcorn, apples (caramel and otherwise), Smarties, Swedish fish and other cheapo candy, bags of pennies (which could break windows if thrown at high velocity), Charleston Chews (Nasty, even frozen), Necco Wafers, bags of mixed nuts, anything malted, and worst of all, those chocolate coins wrapped in foil that taste more like the foil than the chocolate.

It’s fairly obvious that I took my Halloween candy pretty seriously.  I never personally took any action against the houses that gave away lousy candy (why do that, when you can be home EATING candy?), but I had some friends who seemed to take the whole thing rather personally.  Besides the fact that I am a generally peaceful person, I always figured that the people who gave away the lousy candy would be punished by the fact that they would have lousy leftover candy.  This ties in with my theory that leftover candy is the only reason why otherwise reasonable adults would give away perfectly good candy to some little cretin with a mask and a winter coat.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 31 Oct 2003 No Comments

There’s Always Next Year

Let’s pretend that I have an old friend named Rick O’Shea. Growing up in Massachusetts, Rick was an exceedingly ordinary child. He wasn’t particularly attractive, witty, or athletic, and as a result no one paid him much mind. The lack of attention rankled Rick, right up until the moment when he discovered how to get noticed.

He wore a New York Yankees hat to school.

This simple act immediately annoyed everyone in a school full of Red Sox fans, and Rick was hooked. He didn’t even mind that all of the attention he was getting was negative, because he felt that even negative attention was better than being ignored. As an added bonus, Rick could feel superior because even on those rare occasions when the Yankees weren’t winning, the Red Sox would be sure to deal their fans a painful loss (see: 1986).

My theory is that the need for this feeling of superiority, known in the medical community as “traitorous obnoxiousness” is the main reason why the Yankees have so many fans north of Connecticut. These fans don’t actually love the Yankees as much as they love to have a reason to feel superior to the people (Red Sox fans) around them. If the Yankees actually lost, the Yankee fans north of Connecticut wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

A similar craving for superiority led to a similar movement beginning in the late 1970’s. A group of New Englanders decided to abandon the hometown Patriots and begin rooting for the (then) more successful Oakland Raiders. Thankfully, that group, known as the “New England Raider Defectors”, lost quite a bit of steam when the Patriots defeated Oakland on their way to a Super Bowl victory in January of 2002.

Anyway, last Thursday, as you know, the Red Sox played the Yankees in the seventh game of the American League Championship Series. I made plans to watch the game with Rick, because I had a feeling that this would be the year that he would have to eat crow. If Rick O’Shea was going to eat crow because of the New York Yankees, I, as the biggest Red Sox fan I know, simply needed to be there.

The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead and seemed likely to hold onto it. Pedro Martinez was on the mound and everything felt right with the world. This would finally be the season that I would always be able to look back on as “The Year that the Red Sox finally beat the Yankees.” I would tell my grandchildren about it. Heck, I would tell Rick’s grandchildren about it.

O’Shea was despondent, but seemed somehow generous, saying things like, “The Yankees just don’t seem to have their usual magic this year,” and “It’s about time that the Red Sox finally got past New York.” His Yankees hat had been removed and was resting on a nearby table.

These statements made me uneasy. Rick was supposed to play his usual role of the supremely confident blowhard. He was a YANKEE fan, for crying out loud. His humility was completely unexpected, and I found it unnerving.

It didn’t last long. I watched incredulously as the Yankees came back to tie the game and Rick reverted to form, clapping, whistling and throwing snack food into the air. As a side note, it seems that in every important game vs. New York, the Red Sox jump out to an early lead and then the Yankees ALWAYS come back to tie and then win the game.

This game was, tragically, no different, and Aaron Boone eventually took a Tim Wakefield pitch over the wall to clinch the series. I literally felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Something was inherently wrong with the world, because there is simply no way that the Yankees could have just beaten the Red Sox again. It just couldn’t be.

This was supposed to be Boston’s year, a year in which most of the players on the team were having the best seasons of their career. As a long-suffering Red Sox fan, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but somehow I was. I knew that I would have difficulty sleeping that night.

In my misery, I was vaguely aware of Rick, his Yankees hat once again atop his head, jumping up and down while pointing at me and shouting:

“WOO HOO!!! I KNEW THE RED SOX WOULD BLOW IT!!! THE RED SOX FAN IS A SUCKER! THEEEE YANKEEEEEEES WIN, THEEEE YANKEES WIN!!”

Next year Rick will be sorry. I’m sure of it.

Sports &The Day to Day Grind Tim 10 Oct 2003 No Comments