VALLEY DISPATCH STAFF, The late Frank Zappa said Halloween was his favorite holiday.
It’s my least favorite.
I can’t stand the colors black and orange. I hate the images of witches, goblins and ghosts, even the innocent, cartoonish ones. Even more loathsome are the grotesque and macabre figures of zombielike creatures who look like they just crawled out to the pit of Hell.
In recent years there’s been this proliferation of front-yard Halloween displays. Each year they become more elaborate. Some actually look like real cemeteries. Who are these people and when did they decide it’s cute to have dead people on the front lawn? The kids I grew up with would have viewed these homes as prime targets for mischief.
Now they have these giant inflatable figures that stand about 10 feet and light up. When I was a kid, families were content to gather leaves and stuff them into a pair of trousers and a flannel shirt. Round out your scarecrow with a straw hat, sit it in a summer lounge chair on the front porch and you were good to go. It was also a sure-fired way to keep me away from your house because those things just creeped me out.
Growing up, not only did I not like Halloween — although I concede I went out and got my fill of candy — I hated getting dressed up. Every year I would vow that I wouldn’t trick or treat. Inevitably, I’d cave in to peer pressure and at the last minute throw some kind of costume together. Usually a hobo or a baseball player.
And it’s not only Halloween, with all its elements of paganism and the occult, it’s autumn in general. I tire of the cornstalks and jack-‘o-lanterns. In fact I don’t even like pumpkins. And just what is a gourd and why would anybody of sound mind want to eat one?
I can’t stand apple cider, hot or otherwise. I goes right through me.
To me, fall is just a precursor of what’s ahead — winter. It’s the long wake before the funeral. It seems that everything has begun the slow process of dying. The leaf-peepers head north to admire the foliage but after a week or so of vibrant colors the leaves turn brown and fall off. They swirl around empty parking lots as if trying to avoid capture. And with all the rain this year even the annual foliage trip will probably be a wash.
And the days are shorter. Don’t even think of coming home after a hard day’s work and firing up the grill. A game of catch in the back yard? Nope. All the patio furniture is stored away until the spring and the yard is barren, except for the swing set. The empty swings moved eerily back and forth in the wind, as if ghosts sat upon them.
I look out my kitchen window at the once-lush garden behind my house. It seems like only days ago when the garden yielded carrots, green beans, bell peppers and ripe, red tomatoes. The beautiful white and pink roses that lined the back fence are just a warm memory now. A tangle of thorn bushes are all that remain. Rich and glorious sunflowers have turned into morbid corpses, bent over and bowing toward the earth.
I don’t know why autumn puts me in this low funk. Last year the Red Sox took my mind off the dismal season. I’m looking for a little something this year to cheer me up. I think I have just the thing. A warm apple-crisp a la mode. Hold the cider.
Here’s hoping that everyone has a safe Halloween.
What to comment on this column? E-mail Dennis Shaughnessey at firstname.lastname@example.org.