By Alex Berger
Halloween falls on Oct. 31; the midterm elections fall on Nov. 2. I had been asked by the honorable fiends of Halloween to meet with them to discuss a significant concern. We met at the stroke of midnight in the darkened offices of Times Ledger Newspapers.
“What seems to be the trouble?” I asked the Halloween folks.
“Well,” spoke up Willa the Witch, “it seems that politicians — who don’t even wear Halloween costumes — have replaced us as the scariest creatures on the face of the earth.”
“And that’s not all,” whispered Willi the Wisp. “They superseded us in our own sacred hallowed Hall of Halloween. We fear that, if this defilement continues, we’ll be banished from graveyards throughout the world, in accordance with the edict of Halloween jurisprudence. Help us return to our traditional place as numero uno in the scary business.”
“Loyal ghosts, spirits, lovers of the dark and good Samaritans,” I said, “no problem. Simply remember one thing: Politicians come and go, but you are forever.” There were smiles on the face of those who had faces. “So relax, and I will see you all Oct. 31.” Then they all disappeared. I saved Halloween.
With that done, I now await the arrival of Halloween with my thoughts racing back to Halloweens past and the delightful shivers I experienced in my days of yore. This year, I expect the thrills and chills to be bigger and better.
Like me, most everyone will be preparing for the big day by making costumes of scary characters: devils, vampires, black cats and Al Gore. Gloria particularly loves Halloween because every year I dye my hair orange to match her black Halloween dress. My disguise this year is to dress as someone somewhat bizarre. I put on my thinking cap and pondered, meditated and mused. I finally came up with the best choice: me.
I treasure everything about Halloween, even writing my annual column. When else can I get the editor’s approval to scare the pants off my readers? But I must pause and warn all the timid souls to turn the page if they ever covered their eyes watching a horror movie. If so, it is not advisable for you to continue reading further. Heed the words of Mel Gibson, who once said, “Being forearmed is better than being forelegged.” To all the others who decide not to exercise better judgment and want to keep reading, batten down your hatches, gird your loins, lock up the cat and stiffen your upper lips, for you are in for a bumpy ride.
Let me first set the record straight: black cats, ladders and broken mirrors are not all you have to worry about on Halloween. You also have to worry about the warnings specifically cited in the “Book of Superstitions.” It was written in bat’s blood Oct. 31, 1666, by one Count Vlad Dracul, who lived in a haunted castle in Romania. He still is viewed by many followers as the first vampire and his devilish words are embraced by many. One is the solution of his country’s homeless problem: Invite all the homeless people into an abandoned house and torch the place.
The count’s other diabolical tenets were his gift to the world and were handed down generation after generation and finally fell into the hands of my great-great-grandfather, Newt Berger, a bearded, 7-foot tap dancer. I read it last week and my eyes are still trembling. So tremble along with me as you read his unalloyed, uncensored lucubrations:
To ensure good luck, heed the following: “A newborn baby must be carried to the top of a stairway before being taken downstairs for the first time. Step on your own shadow before someone else does. A frog is good luck in any house it enters. Sneezing on a Sunday morning before you have eaten is forbidden. Do not meet a man with flat feet on a Monday morning — if you do, return home, eat and drink and start the day anew). When ironing, be careful not to iron in a diamond-shaped fold. Never leave an eggshell half-broken on a picture of your mother-in-law. And, most importantly, beware of politicians.”
Memorize the count’s dogmas carefully and follow them to the letter. He also mandated that everyone burn his words immediately after they have become ingrained in your senses. Failure to do so will result in an uncontrollable craving for candy corn forever. So, as the Halloween and midterm elections approach, be wary of all who cross your path.
As the count warns, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of bats, frogs and politicians?”
Contact Alex Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.