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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

13 Rules of Halloween

Mooooo-ha-ha-haaaaaaaa! Halloween is upon us and the ghouls are creeping. Surely you'll be out among them trick-or-treating tonight, too. Well, be warned. If the clouds part and the moon shines upon your unfortunate features revealing them to be of someone too old, too greedy or too spooked to participate in the festivities, many curses will fall upon you and your treat bag. Break one of the 13 cardinal rules of trick-or-treating and NO CANDY FOR YOU! Woooooh-hee-hee-hee-heeeeeee!

  1. Wear a costume.
  2. Shave your beard.
  3. If you're taller than 6-feet, hunch down.
  4. Shave your beard.
  5. Tote a traditional orange jack-o-lantern bucket for collecting candy. When you walk from house to house with a large, black garbage sack, you look like you're robbing people.
  6. Shave your beard.
  7. Open your mouth and say, "Trick or treat." Don't grunt. Don't shove your bag toward the candy bowl. Don't smile menacingly. Don't just stand there looking at me looking at you.
  8. Shave your beard.
  9. Do not carry two buckets and claim to be collecting candy for yourself and a mystery family member who sadly could not go trick-or-treating for being struck by a terrible undiagnosed illness. This is trick-or-treating NOT trick-and-treating. You can't have your candy and his candy and eat it, too.
  10. Shave your beard! (I am not joking. Shave it. Do not come to my doorstep asking for candy with even one dangling chin hair wagging at me. It's a dead give-away that you are too old to be out on a night like this.)
  11. Do not claim to be trick-or-treating for your child who is "asleep in the car." Satan will set your pants on fire just as sure as I will turn you away. He and I both have the prerogative to do that on Halloween.
  12. Don't be so chicken-hearted that when something jumps out and startles you you turn around and run over your own offspring. If you can't go bravely, send your husband. If he plans to carry a bucket for himself, tell him to shave his beard.
  13. At 9 o'clock, Halloween, the treating part at least, is officially OVER. Do not knock on my door or ring my doorbell, unless you want to see something really scary. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jack of the Lantern

Hundreds of years ago, there lived upon the Emerald Isle, a right dodgy fellow known as Stingy Jack.  Stingy Jack stole turnips and potatoes from his neighbors’ gardens.  He played terrible tricks on his family.  He made ghastly faces at children. Whenever someone asked, “Why do ye act the maggot, Stingy Jack?” he shrugged his shoulders and wickedly replied, “The devil made me do it.”

Bad to drink, Stingy Jack spent many an evening in the local pub, drowning himself in whiskey and slapping the supple hindquarters of weary barmaids.  There, he finally met up with the devil himself, who enjoyed keeping company with drunkards.  The two nasty fellows sipped crappers together well into the wee hours.

When it came time to close shop, Stingy Jack refused to pay the tab.  To settle the bill, he connived and conned the devil into transforming into a silver piece; but as soon as the Prince of Darkness did, Jack slipped the coin into his pocket, alongside a cross, trapping the villainous old gobshite. 

Eventually, Stingy Jack grew weary of hearing the devil complain and threaten; so, in exchange for release, Jack negotiated with the fiend a 10-year reprieve for rebuttal. Mephistopheles promised to wait a dime before collecting Jack’s soul. 

Time passed. Jack got meaner and more irritable with every change of season.  He grew old, shriveled and lonely.  At the turn of the decade, as Stingy Jack traveled a desolate bogway, Lucifer appeared from the shadows.

 “Ahh,” said Jack, who’d been expecting this meeting, “céad míle fáilte, a hundred thousand welcomes. I see ye have returned for me soul.  Before ye take it, could ye climb that tree yonder and shake down an apple for a poor old man.”

Well, the devil, always happy to serve dark hearts, never minded thieving anything for anybody.  He climbed the tree.

Jack, set straight to hammering crosses in the ground.  “It seems I’ve trapped you again there Satan,” he laughed, hacking a sick, wet gurgle. Believing he had the goat by the horns now, he bargained, “I tell you what Beelzebub, promise to never take my soul and I will let you down.”

The devil briefly considered his options and smiled a yellow, worm infested grin.  Again, he agreed to Stingy Jack’s terms.

A few days later, Stingy Jack, without anyone who cared whether mean, jarred Jack staggered on through the world or disappeared in a peat bog, passed away with one last, thick cough. Still in a stupor, he made his way toward the pearly gates.  But, alas, St. Peter took one look at him and commanded, “Gerrup da yard!” 

Dejected and surprised, but half-pleased to go visit his old conspirator in evil, Jack crossed the River Styx. Jovially, he rang out, “How's she cuttin',” as he approached the pits of Hell.

Remembering Stingy Jack’s trickery, however, and true to his word, the devil would have none of Jack, either.  “Do ye take me for a blasted eejit, man?”

“Where shall I go,” slurred Jack.

“Back the way ye came,” decreed the devil, tossing an ember from Hell’s fire to light the way for a lost soul.

In death, as in life, Jack, grumbling that the devil made him do it, stole a turnip and carved it into a lantern to hold the ember.  To this day, Jack of the Lantern restlessly wanders the countryside, seeking a place to settle.  (Insert evil cackle.)

Be careful that he doesn’t settle on your doorstep this All Hallows Eve. Carve a pumpkin. Light the candle. Above all, extend generous hospitality and treats to all of your spooky visitors.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Time Out

Every mommy needs a time out. The great thing about being a mommy (actually, I'm a mama, but close enough) and a freelance writer is that sometimes I get time-outs sent to me in the mail. A little earlier this morning, a rectangular package arrived on my doorstep. Guess what was inside:

a) A baby with a note saying, "Please give me a loving home."
b) Kittens with a note saying, "Please help us find loving homes."
c) An encyclopedia salesman saying, "I heard this is a loving home."
d) A bottle of wine with a note saying, "A mommy's time out is a well-deserved break."

If you guessed a, I would like to inform you that this isn't the 1950s anymore. No one has left a baby on a doorstep in decades. If you picked b, I suspect you thrive off of chaos. If you selected c, perhaps you've read too many romance novels. Encyclopedia salesmen went the way of the baby in the basket on the stoop.

Ding, ding, ding, ding! The correct answer is (d), a time out!

The label even provides directions for use:
See the chair in the corner? That's where mommy sits to gather her thoughts. Her "snack" is on the table next to her time-out chair. Just like Junior, sometimes mommy needs a few minutes to regroup and regain her self-control.

How about you? Do you need a Mommy's Time Out?