Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Six Easy Ways to Scare the Heck out of Your Neighbors

(The following was written for a publication that I will not name, in order to protect the innocent from being associated with the rest of the nonsense I post.) (And yes, they actually pay me to write this stuff.)

I love the month of October. The crispness of the autumn air – the splendor of the fall foliage…

Or at least I used to love October. I’m not really sure it exists anymore. Because nowadays it seems we go directly from September 30th to Halloween.

If you’re an old-timer like me, one who thought Halloween was simply the last day of October – well, you are sadly mistaken, my little goblins.

At least in my neighborhood (location undisclosed, as I would like to continue living there) there is a mad rush to adorn the outside of one’s house with all things Halloween-y the very instant the calendar page flips over from the 9th to the 10th month of the year.

With elaborate front-yard tableaus of pun-bearing fake tombstones, garbage-bag witches smashed into trees and synthetic-fiber cobwebs adorning front porches…well, you can’t really blame a homeowner for wanting to get the maximum amount of display time for their Halloween decorations when so much effort is put into the process.

But somehow, my heart just isn’t into making my property look like the queue area of The Haunted Mansion.

Besides, those fake tombstones aren’t scaring anybody.

I say – if you’re going to go to all the trouble of decorating your front yard for the month of All Hallows’ Eve, why not make your display really frightening. And so, in my continuing effort to help all of mankind, I suggest the following Halloween themes:

The Kiddy-Party Mascot: Consider the impact of a strategically-placed Chuck E. Cheese animatronic lawn ornament. Any parent who has ever had the pleasure of escorting a child to the place where a kid can be an obnoxious kid (that is their theme, isn’t it?) will break out in a cold-sweat upon the sight of the larger-than-life mouse. Warning: may prompt a post-traumatic stress disorder lawsuit.

The Rachel Ray: Place a life-sized cardboard cut-out of the ubiquitous TV-talk-show-host/chef/product-shill on your front porch and line the sides of your walkway with boxes of Wheat Thins. The neighborhood children will run screaming as they imagine the horrors of whole wheat snacks being tossed into their trick-or-treat bags in lieu of candy.

Mime-o-rama: Honestly, can you look at a mime without feeling somewhat uneasy? I rest my case. Anything even vaguely mime-y will do the trick for this decorating theme.

Our Unemployed 20-something’s Moved Back Home: Piles of dirty laundry and unwashed dishes randomly scattered across your front lawn, along with a dummy clutching a joystick leaning against a tree or lightpost, will remind parents of the frightening prospect that their nest may never be truly empty.

Coulrophobia (AKA Fear of Clowns): If you really want your Halloween display to provoke palpitations and inspire general feelings of dread, skip the skeletons and go with a clown motif. Fact: Clowns were invented to give children nightmares. It’s true. There’s no other logical explanation for their existence.

The only reason my kids will ever get within 20 feet of anyone in clown makeup is if said clown is making balloon sculptures (evidently balloon sculpture is akin to crack for the elementary-school set.) And even then, they grab the twisted balloon thingies and run away from the creepy person with the painted face as fast as their terrified little legs will carry them.

Oh, but Ronald McDonald is cool. He’s not a real clown – he’s a McClown, which is an entirely different beast.

And finally, my own personal Halloween décor choice – which scares the bejeebers out of our neighbors year after year --

The No Decorations Theme: Imagine leaving your front lawn and porch completely unadorned for nearly the entire month of October! Your friends and acquaintances will be bewildered - befuddled even - by your apparent indifference to the impending holiday. Are you ill? On an extended vacation? Kidnapped by killer clowns? (Oh, sorry, that’s my own little phobia…)

Then, on or about October 30th, place a pair of custom-carved jack-o-lanterns (preferably fashioned by someone of school age) on either side of your front door. That’s it!

It’s a minimalist statement, to be sure – but one that will truly mark you as a trendsetter.

Happy Hauntings!

4 Comments:

At October 21, 2007 4:19 AM, Anonymous Darin said...

Ah, my dear, you make me chuckle.

 
At October 22, 2007 11:27 AM, Blogger Skusting Dagger said...

We have friends in Brooklyn who are building a life sized Martian War Machine in their fornt yard for their upcoming Halloween party.
I will be sure that you get to see photos!

 
At October 22, 2007 12:47 PM, Blogger Cyn said...

I'm all about the chuckle. It's my life work. Some people dedicate themselves to saving the planet, eradicating hunger, righting injustices...me, I'm just working on bringing chuckles to the masses - one mildly amusing tale at a time.

Martian War Machine! Man-oh-man, I would kill for neighbors like that.

 
At October 25, 2008 6:46 PM, Anonymous Jordan said...

hahaha, i was actually looking for real ways to scare people, but i am glad to have found this, it was a much needed laugh as the impending doom of halloween approaches.

 

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