I don’t know if you missed it, but I just realized we just passed an important day in American history. I’ve mentioned before that maybe it should be remembered.
It was Oct. 19, 1781, that Cornwallis surrendered his army to George Washington at Yorktown.
I’m talking about VB Day. I mean, there’s VE Day and VJ Day that brought an end to World War II, but for some reason we don’t recognize Victory over the British. It was a huge victory, and like Ike, I can just imagine General Washington riding down Broadway and waving to the crowd in a ticker-tape parade.
OK, there was no such thing as ticker-tape back then and as matter of fact, there’s no such thing even today. Ticker-tape has gone the way of curb feelers, mimeograph paper and Brownie Instamatics. Not to say that my old Brownie Instamatic couldn’t take good pictures, it’s just nowadays you can’t find anyone to process the film. The latest thing now, though, is to pull all those snapshots out of the photo album and scan them into your computer. And with the right software, you can take off unwanted poundage and clear up those wrinkles.
On second thought, those wrinkles add character, don’t they?
Well, don’t they? Tell me they do.
But I digress.
We’re about a week and a half away from Halloween and those chilly winds are picking up quite regularly now. I’m digging out the winter face masks, so no matter what it’s going to be I’ll be ready, whether it’ll be an El Niño, La Niña, or something in between, like…say, El Adolescente, a word that doesn’t exist but should.
If I may go off on a tangent, here are other words that don’t exist but should:
- The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater
- The mistaken notion that the more you press an elevator button the faster it will arrive.
- The small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the dustpan and keeps backing a person across the room until he finally decides to give up and sweep it under a rug.
- Manhandling the “open here” spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the “illegal” side.
- A fluorescent light bulb struggling to come to life.
- The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want ground pepper.
- One who is embarrassed to undress in front of a household pet.
- The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.
- The moist residue on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.
- The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you’re only six inches away.
Speaking of made-up words, today is the International Day of the Nacho, celebrating the invention of the nacho by Ignacio Anaya, whose nickname was “nacho.”
Anyway, this being close to Halloween I remember getting into a discussion with a lady – she was an elderly Navajo – at the Bubble Machine laundry a couple of years ago. She was telling me about how a skinwalker scared the living daylights out of her grown daughter, who had gone for a walk in Socorro the night before and ran back home banging on the door to let her in.
I learned about skinwalkers from reading Tony Hillerman’s Navajo mystery novels, and no, they don’t have anything to do with streaking, that goofiness from the 70s where teenagers ran around naked. No, the skinwalker is a person – basically a witch – who has chosen to use his or her power for evil by taking the form of an animal to terrorize others. To become a skinwalker this person is required to commit the ultimate evil, such as murdering a family member or breaking a cultural taboo, after which they acquire supernatural powers.
I remember when KRQE ran a photo a few years ago purporting to show a skinwalker crossing the highway up near Cuba. More recently, some guy in Arizona has apparently gained thousands of followers on TikTok with his posts of a skinwalker shouting, “Hey!” at him while riding his horse.
Like the lady I talked with, some describe hearing knocks on the window or banging on the walls. In the Diné language, skinwalkers is yee naagloshii which translates to “he who walks on all fours,” and she said she felt the presence of one roaming Socorro, cautioning her children not to go out walking after dark.
Must be the season of the witch, as Donovan sings.
I’m thinking of keeping a plate of nachos on hand for any errant skinwalker that may come by trick-or-treating next week.