Halloween is almost upon us, and as Meg Tilly asked so brilliantly in the cinematic disaster Body Snatchers, "Where ya gonna go? Where ya gonna run? Where ya gonna hide?" Eloquently, she voices the dilemma of millions of Americans every Oct. 31. I've exhausted my options, with less than optimum results. Let's run through the choices, shall we?
First there's trick-or-treating. Being a greedy bastard and visiting every house within a 20-mile radius, hitting them up for the goods, is socially acceptable for children, but, three years ago, when I was dressed as Zsa Zsa Gabor and asked all of my neighbors to "Give me some candy, dahling, or I'll give you a slap," I didn't quite get the results I was looking for.
From what I can remember I got assorted candy bars, candy corns, rocks, kitchenware, lollipops and a jack-o'-lantern, still lit -- thrown at me, with great velocity. I can't even spell the names people called me. One grandmotherly woman was actually kind to me, and gave me some popcorn. My faith in humanity was restored -- until I heard the muffled call to her husband: "Come see this poor slow boy. It's lovely to see the mentally challenged out and about." At the tender age of 23, I retired from trick-or-treating forever.
The next year I opted to stay home, watch some scary movies, and give wondrous candy to the legit trick-or-treaters. The candy aisle at the supermarket was pure pandemonium. I might as well have been looking for the last green Power Ranger on Christmas Eve. I didn't want to be one of those houses that gave out nickels, fruit, hard bubble gum, cream soda Dum-Dums that stuck to the paper, black licorice, those awful dark chocolate Hershey's Miniatures, or Smarties. Honestly, do people ever buy Smarties for themselves?
I made a quick scan of what was available, and I saw some variety packs of good chocolate stuff that had escaped notice. I made a mad dash to get two packs. I popped 'em in my cart and strolled contentedly to the checkout counter. The line was huge, and I noticed the elderly woman behind me had nothing in her cart but a box of Metamucil, so I let her go in front of me. I started to sing along with the Muzak ("Precious and few are the moment we two can shaaaaaaare...") when I heard a crash. I looked to my side and saw a huge pyramid of canned beets topple over.
"Hope that wasn't my singing," I thought, then turned back. Quicker than I could say, "The cast of Wings should be sterilized," my treasures were gone! I was completely bewildered. Then I looked in the cart ahead of me. The elderly woman, for whom I had selflessly sacrificed my place in line, had two bags of assorted chocolates along with her Metamucil. I tried to conceal my anger and said kindly to the woman, "Excuse me, I think those are my Halloween candies there." I believe she mouthed the words "Bite me." I walked right up to her cart and reached in and picked up what was rightfully mine. That's when she started bawling hysterically, which caused the entire supermarket to glare in my direction. I was frozen like Jennifer Tilly would be if you aimed a flashlight at her eyes. I've never been so furious or so humiliated; I just stood there with my hand in the metaphorical cookie jar.
I backed slowly out of the store, and still candyless, I decided to go to a convenience store, where I bought 50 Chunky bars. A mixture of chocolate, nuts and raisins makes my stomach turn, but hey, I didn't have to eat 'em. I had enough Chunky bars to feed a small South American country, or Marlon Brando. I sat down and started to watch Halloween. Before the opening credits were over, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and was greeted, "Trick or treat!" by a child and his mother.
"Here ya go, fella," I said, smiling, as I handed him a Chunky. The child glowed; the mother frowned.
"Michael is allergic to nuts. Don't you have anything else?" she inquired.
"Umm... n-n-no..." I stammered. The mother ripped the treat from her son's hand and handed it back to me, setting Michael into a temper tantrum. "I'm really sorry," I managed to say.
"Thank you, thank you very much. It was his first Halloween and you ruined it for him. Aren't you proud of yourself?" She sneered as she stormed off. I sighed, shrugged, and went back to my movie.
Five minutes later, more doorbell. Two teenage girls, dressed up -- they looked like Clueless characters, gum chewing and all. "Like, trick or treat." I handed them two chunky bars, which appalled them. Clueless #1: "Like hello, do you know how many grams of fat are in a Chunky? Only like a million!" and she handed it back to me. Clueless #2: "Geez Louise, don't you have any like Snackwells or fat free potato chips?" and deposited El Chunky back in my hand.
And so it went all night. Kids whining about chocolate, kids complaining about raisins, kids bitching about their choices.... In four hours I got through about 15 minutes of the movie. And I got stuck with 45 Chunky bars. Hey, you want a Chunky? Last year I tried another great Halloween option: the costume party. I bopped on down to "Costumes R Us" to rent one, which was oh-so-wise to do on Halloween day. Sparse selection? The place was emptier than Jennie McCarthy's skull. Let me tell you, all eyes were focused when I stumbled in the door as a huge orange box of Tide. I felt about as mobile as Gilbert Grape's mother. I scanned the room and saw assorted Beavises, Ticks, Shannen Doughertys, Newt Gingriches, and one big orange blob.
I went straight to the punch bowl and then mingled about. Everybody bored me, and they all seemed to be staring at the monstrosity that was my costume. Then I saw her, the woman I could spend forever with, the woman who wouldn't bitch at me for drinking milk out of the carton. She was a twin of Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction), and she looked me straight in the eye, and walked up to me. We had several hours of engaging conversation; this and my never empty punch cup kept me in seventh heaven.
Then -- in the middle of debating which was more torture, watching the OJ trial or watching a Mickey Rourke movie -- she blurted, "Do you always talk so much before you a kiss a girl?" That was all the invitation I needed. I wrapped my arms around her and kissed. It was just like the movies.... The world started to spin in a little circle, like in a DePalma film, except it made me dizzy, and I suddenly realized it wasn't the kiss, but the heavy imbibing at the punchbowl. I lost my balance, which is not a smooth thing mid-smooch. The huge Tide box caused me to stumble, and I held my love tight, knowing she would be my rock and prevent my imminent fall. But my feet became entwined with hers and I fell forward, taking Mia Wallace with me.
I could see her expression of horror; the girl I so wanted to impress was being crushed by Mr. Tide himself. I believe the words that she used were "Jesus, I can't feel my legs! I struggled and squirmed, as Batman and Thor managed to pull me off of her, but by then it was too late. Physically, Mrs. Wallace was fine, but she was none too pleased with my squashing her, inadvertent though it was. In fact, everybody at the party just sort of glared and pointed at me until I left, shamed. No more Halloween parties for me, thank you very much.
Don't walk down the same unpaved road as I did. Learn from my mistakes. This Halloween, hide out with some friends, turn off all the lights and rent some movies. Try a couple of these, you'll thank me later: Halloween, Nightmare On Elm Street, Frankenhooker, Carrie, The Shining, Evil Dead 2, Dead Alive, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Exorcist, and Re-Animator. When the doorbell rings, don't answer it. There's no shame in hiding. In fact, I've found that detaching the doorbell altogether makes things much more pleasant. And if you turn the volume up really loud, you can't even hear those little fists knocking.