One of the oddest of all holidays is coming up this Saturday, when – in normal times – all sorts of scary monsters, superheroes and even fairy princesses would come knocking on your door. But this year in our pandemic times, who knows?

Like the hopeless optimist I am, I went ahead with my timehonored plan and stocked up for trickor-treaters. It’s a good plan, but confession time: we’ve already started dipping into the supply of Halloween candy. Using cold hard grown-up logic we figured the practical thing to do was to buy all the Halloween candy as early as possible so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting it later. Wrong-o.

John Larson

We failed to factor in the presence of all that chocolate we so cleverly stashed “out of sight.” A little piece here, a little piece there, well, you can guess.

But what if nobody comes? I mean, there’s all those germs swirling in and out on the front porch each time you open the front door.

With that thought in mind, I figure we should have a Plan B. Something like kind of a reverse parade. I mean, in a parade people throw candy at you. So this year, why not throw candy at trick-or-treaters from six feet away so they can catch them in their sacks as they walk past your house? All social-distanced and hygienic and masked up. Failing that, there’s always a Plan C. Is there such a thing as virtual trick-or-treating?

But whatever the case, the “better safe than sorry” advice is not a bad thing to follow in our current Andromeda Strain reality.

I observe the occasion by watching a horror movie or two on Halloween night, and I don’t mean the gross-out graphic slasher stuff. I’m talking about the real thing, like Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, or The Mummy with Boris Karloff. Maybe Dracula with Bela Lugosi. Also, anything that had a ghost in it.

Those early movies creeped me out as a kid when they were shown on Shock Theater on TV and still do, kind of. A little more recently, there’s a movie that came out in the early 90s – the early 90s being “recent” to me – called Truly Madly Deeply, which is about a cellist who dies, leaving his livein girlfriend grieving something awful. Then one day, he shows up, or rather his ghost shows up, and she’s all happy. But when he starts inviting four or five of his ghost friends from the netherworld over to watch tapes of classic movies like Casablanca and La Strada all day on TV, she thinks maybe he should go back to the ether.

However, it’s not scary.

Scary is this: I suggested to my wife to dress up like La Llorona and scare the kids away before they reach the porch. Although La Llorona isn’t specifically a Halloween ghost, it makes for a good scary story for kids, you know, Los niños.

It’s a great legend, better even than the chupacabra, and much more melodramatic. The jealous mother who throws her two children into a river and in death walks the countryside as a spectral figure looking for them. Instead of finding them, however, she’ll steal any child she comes across to keep as her own and then throw them into a river. Or so the story goes, and leaving out all the soap opera details having to do with her faithless husband.

That tale goes back hundreds of years and has made it easy for parents to keep their kids from wandering out at night. Especially if they lived near a creek or river. So in a way, La Llorona fits in nicely with Halloween, and it would be perfect fodder for a scary movie. There are, in fact, a couple of Spanish language movies made in Mexico of the story.

As a matter of fact a new one came out last year, but I heard it turned out to be a run of the mill cheapo horror movie.

This year I’ll follow my daughter’s suggestion and opt for Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is a science-fiction musical take on the old Frankenstein concept starring Tim Curry as a cross-dressing mad scientist. And with the Time Warp song and dance it’s a perfect way to end Daylight Saving Time.

Personally, I’d like to turn my clock back to, hmm, anytime before 2020. Someday, God willing, today’s kids will be telling their grandchildren, “I remember back in 2020 when there was no toilet paper or instant ramen.”

And don’t forget that Election Day is next Tuesday. No matter who you vote for, just git ‘er done, and whatever the outcome I don’t want to hear any whining. Or gloating. Enough. I take to heart something the late columnist Molly Ivins of Texas once said, “The thing about democracy…is that it is not neat, orderly or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.”

Not unlike resetting all my clocks.

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