Halloween is one of my favourite dates on the calendar, which should surprise no one as half my evening wardrobe is already considered borderline costumey. From an early age my mother instilled in us the importance of making our own costumes rather than buying them. Some could say it was just a parent’s ruse, as the availability of anything beyond a mask in the Cayman Islands of the 70’s was pretty rare, but my Mum is ALL about the originality. Back then one of the main staple materials in the costumes she created for us was brown paper supermarket bags. Imagine the tough time she’d have now with the scarcity of these thanks to the green initiative! I suppose there’s always coconut husk, but I’ve a feeling it could get itchy…
Mum drove us around for Halloween when we were children, taking us from one house to the next. I was usually at the head of the pack, bold as brass, trying to get my weight in sugar from generous residents over a couple of hours. One year I wore a chimpanzee mask (yes, let the comments begin) and when necessary, would sing “You musta been a beautiful baby” to really encourage the opening of the coffers. Just call me the Artful Dodger. Of course we would also have visitors to our apartment in town. I remember being slightly taken aback when ghouls and ghosts taller than my parents came a’knockin’ – seemed there was no age limit when it came to free candy being up for grabs. This was re emphasized at Christmas when Santa flew into Owen Roberts Airport (by plane, not reindeer) and then threw out sweets to an eager crowd in the park nearby. Any kid under four feet tall was in serious danger of being trampled by an adult with longer arms. Apparently it’s every man for himself when Good ‘n’ Plentys are hurled into the air.
When I became old enough to rent my own place, I eagerly awaited the arrival of scores of children at my door. I purchased candy, I got a pointy hat…but no one ever showed up (are ya reaching for the Kleenex yet?) A year later I moved to an even more prominent address in the heart of Seven Mile Beach. Surely I would be inundated with young monsters and the like? October 31st came and went, and not a soul appeared. Not long afterwards my best friend Lynne began renting the other bedroom in the apartment. The months passed quickly, and Halloween was on the horizon once again. This time we upped the ante with some decorations, lights and a mention to a couple of friends who were parents of small children that we would definitely be home that night. It was all for naught. Not a dickie bird.
As the years went on I became more and more involved in the local entertainment industry. I was either singing, hosting a comedy club, or putting on a concert so I was rarely at home. Halloween was a prime night for adults to go out and have fun as well; hence bands and DJs were always in demand. I wore a number of different costumes such as Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show (hardly a stretch with my hair), a Vampire queen (I swallowed a fake incisor that year, and so ended up a bloodsucker with dental issues) and a Mummy, although I looked more like an accident victim, wrapped up in so many bandages that any movement was extremely restricted. That’s the one thing about a great costume – it should also be a comfortable costume. Anything that makes dancing, sitting, standing or talking difficult must be given careful consideration lest you spend the evening prone and alone.
I now own a cottage in Snug Harbour, yet alas it is behind Jennifer Drive on a wee private dark road which therefore does not encourage curious visitors. My house is literally The Last House on the Right – a possible sequel to The Last House on the Left. Lynne and I also have myriad cats roaming around outside, and a unicycle on the front porch. The whole package screams “Stay away from the loons!” Lynne, ever-positive, purchased three large bags of sweets two weeks ago in preparation for our yearly unpopularity contest. One evening I fancied some chocolate, so I delved into the stash, inhaling a few bite-size Snickers bars and Reeses Sticks. I was sternly informed that I had better replace them PDQ before all the “good” candy disappeared off the shelves at the supermarkets and we were left with only “bad” candy (whatever that is) to choose from. I thought I had done a good job of hiding the theft, but sometimes it’s like living with Miss Marple.
We sat down and tried to work out a game plan for this year. Lights at the entrance to our street were a possibility, or illuminated signs that pointed our way saying something soothing like “Come on down, we won’t bite.” I bumped into a neighbour who was boasting about her house being “overrun” with children every Halloween. Why must people hurt with their words? We are therefore hatching an idea – if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, can’t the mountain come to Mohammed? Residents of Snug Harbour, don’t be surprised if you see a collapsible table being assembled by two ghosts somewhere along Jennifer Drive with a vast supply of “good” candy in their possession. They may even have a carved pumpkin or two at their disposal, and some music if one of them can find twenty “D” batteries whilst we’re still in hurricane season.
On the other hand, if it happens to be raining, we may just “give up the ghost” and stay home. A person should only go so far to hand out free sweets or it reeks of desperation. Besides, there’s always next year…