I'm torn between really liking and really disliking Halloween.
Actually, if I am at all honest, the list of "dislikes" probably greatly outweighs the "likes."
First of all, I dislike buying costumes.
This year Wesley wants to be Snake Eyes from GI Joe. Or a ninja. I think that Snake Eyes IS a Ninja, but I'm not quite sure.
It is my scrooge-like belief that the money spent on costumes is not unlike flushing $40.00 or so of hard earned money down the crapper. ( I believe I touched on this in last year's Halloween blog post. )
I dislike having to buy candy for other people's kids.
I don't even like to buy candy for my own kids because usually when candy is involved children turn into little beast-like creatures with only slightly better vocabularies.
It begins with crazed eyes in the check out lanes at the grocery store.
What ticks me off is that stores do this on purpose. They hire psychologists to tell them to set it up this way (I saw Dateline once). They put the candy that ONLY kids could possibly want at the very end of the grocery store journey, when the parents have been so beaten down and psychologically weakened that they are tempted to say "yes" just to get their kids to shut up.
"Mom! Mom, mom, mom, mom," they beg, tugging at some sort of appendage or various piece of clothing/accessory on my person.
"Whatever question you are about to ask, the answer is no." As usual, I'm ignored.
"Mom, can I get the Liquid Bomb Blasting Sour Puss Extreme Razzle Dazzle Raspberry Squirt Pop? I saw it on a commercial! It's actually really good."
I observe the concoction that has been thrust up to my eye level.
It looks positively wretched, both for the eyes and most likely for the health. The color isn't natural and probably contains no less than a hundred known cancer causing ingredients.
On the other hand, I like Halloween because presents the best television opportunities of the entire year. There is a horror movie broadcasted every single night.
Last night, I donated a sliver of my time to The Shining, much to Chris' dismay. He told me to turn it off because he was eating. He doesn't like to watch anything "out of the ordinary" while he is eating.
Best of all, there are Ghost Hunter marathons. My very favorite episode was last season when TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) investigated The Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.
A princess was a regular guest at the hotel and her original bed is still in one of the rooms. They performed the routine EVP's (electric voice phenomenon) in that room.
If you don't want to watch the 2 minute video on YouTube, I'll recap:
Jason (TAPS): Princess, are you in here?
Princess Caroline: Hello? Is there someone there? (This wasn't audible; it was only discovered after the replayed the tapes.)
Jason: Princess, are you in the room?
Princess Caroline: Of course I am in here. (Pause.) Where are you?
This interaction was positively brilliant and thought provoking. I watched it no less than a dozen times that night, thanks to my handy DVR machine. I also made Chris watch it. He hates Ghost Hunters.
Unlike some of my family members, I haven't had anything really supernatural happen to me.
My personal "ghost story" isn't nearly as impressive.
We were house hunting about six years ago, before we bought our first house. We had scoured realtor.com for all of the available listings in Des Moines.
One of the houses that showed up in our search was a turn of the century gem that boasted four fireplaces, 6,000 square feet and three stories, plus an apartment in the attic. The asking price was under 20K.
It was so intriguing, and probably SUCH a dump, that we had to see it. We talked our friend/realtor, Gina, into taking us there.
This was probably a mistake.
According to Gina, it had been a brothel. And a drug house. There had obviously been some serious crimes committed inside the house.
I had never, to my knowledge, been inside a house like this.
The first thing that assaulted me when I walked inside was the smell. It wasn't bad; it was different. It was a sweet smell. It didn't smell like air fresheners or detergent. It just smelled off.
The next issue was that it was freezing in there. We were house hunting on a overcast, fall day and we were wearing jackets, but the temperature dropped at least ten more degrees as we stepped into the foyer.
It was so sad. The once grand house had been completely stripped of everything of value ~ the fireplace mantles, the trim around the windows, the moldings around the doors. Everything was gone. The wood floors were bare and in terrible shape. Whoever bought this house was going to have to gut and replace EVERYTHING.
The smell was off, the temperature obviously dropped and the third thing that happened within seconds of walking in there was that I felt as if someone dropped a heavy cloak on me. My body felt a little heavier, my shoulders dropped. I felt a horrible, desperate sadness that made me want to cry.
"This place is haunted," Gina said. "I have been in thousands of houses and I can just tell by now."
"Okay then, let's go," Chris said. He could tell, too.
"Chris, I really want to just look around in here," I protested. I was morbidly curious.
Gina agreed with me. Chris turned to leave, but thought better of letting two women and a child walk around a house like this alone. He unwillingly joined us.
The rooms were choppy and bare. The sadness and cold followed me throughout the house. We walked upstairs to the fourth story apartment. There were hand prints on the walls.
As we left, the sadness stayed with me.
I wandered through the rest of the day feeling off and perpetually on the verge of tears. The dread I felt as I walked through that house clung to me like a wet rag. It was a horrible feeling and quite honestly, I felt as if something had followed me out of the house.
I did something that I had never done before. I asked if my husband would pray over me.
Now, we are Lutheran. We are not Baptists, or Pentecostals or any other denomination where this is regularly done. My faith is private, quiet. To ask someone to pray over me took a lot of courage to ask, but the feeling attached to me was serious and required some big guns.
Several years later, Chris asked me if I remembered that house.
I was like, hell yeah I remembered that house.
"Yes," I said.
Apparently a local Christian group bought it, renovated it and turned it into a homeless shelter for teenage boys. I was speechless. Here is the picture of the house:
To my dismay, Wesley is asking (read: pestering) me when we can go shopping for his costume.
I'm putting it off, but the money flushing is inevitable. No need to ruin a child's holiday just because I am the scrooge.
I'm sure when we go through the checkout lane, pleading will ensue for candy. Or a Pepsi. Or Goldfish. He becomes desperate after the first two "no's" and just starts asking whatever crap in the immediate vicinity that his greedy little eyes rest upon.
It should be a delightful trip. If not, I know that there will be great television on tonight. And that always cheers me right up.