Archive for October, 2012

When I was a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday. I loved it more than Christmas. It was that cool time of year when the leaves would fall from the trees during windy evenings and the breeze still had a hint of warmth. Okay, I guess it also had to do with the fact that on Halloween night I would get CANDY, CANDY and more CANDY. I loved dressing up and loved creating my perfect costume. When we were little, my Mom would make Halloween costumes for me and Tracy:

                             ” Help, I’ve lost my sheep! And my dignity.”

In later years, Mom would sometimes buy us costumes from the store — probably K-Mart, and most likely a blue-light special. Little girls in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s had about two costume choices: nurse or witch. I chose the nurse. I liked those little candy pills that came in the little plastic nurse’s box. Hand-me-downs were also a part of Halloween: Coleen and Melissa would be wearing those Little Bo Peep costumes a few years later.

When I was a lot older (at least 9 or 10), I would pride myself in making my own costume. I wasn’t your typical girly-girl who wanted to be a Princess or Fairy or Bride for Halloween. I was immensely proud of a ‘bum’ costume I designed … complete with a pair of my Dad’s old pants I stuffed with pillows to look fat. I guess homeless people were fat back in the day. I rubbed used coffee grounds all over my face to resemble a five-o’clock shadow. “Brother, can you spare a dime? Or a Snickers?”

When I was just starting elementary school, there was a super dry spell in Halloween festivities for children in the San Francisco Bay Area. There was a crazy serial killer named the Zodiac on the loose (maybe you’ve heard of him). During those Zodiac rampage years, no trick-or-treating was allowed in the greater Vallejo area. I hated the Zodiac. I was too young to understand the awful truth about the Zodiac — all I knew was some crazy person had ruined my favorite holiday and all of us were banned to school cafeterias and community centers to celebrate our Halloween. Trick-or-treating around a cafeteria just isn’t the same once you’ve experienced the real outdoor festivities, especially when that nasty warm corn smell was still lingering in the air from lunch time.

We’d parade around the cafeteria in our costumes getting candy and snacks. Oh, and there was bobbing for apples, or as I like to call it, Hello Hepatitis! What the bleep? What were those adults thinking? Hey gang, let’s grab a huge rusty pail from the backyard scrap pile, fill it with water from the hose and throw some apples in it. Then for kicks, let’s have the kids dress up like dorks with crazy makeup all over their face, run around the block begging the neighbors for candy in the cold, then drag them and their runny noses over to the big rusty water pail full of apples and stick their faces in it. Then let’s have them bite at the apples with their candy-corroded teeth long enough so that their spit mixes together in the water. If one of them actually snags an apple in their teeth, they WIN!! They win an APPLE!!

Even as a kid I knew there was something terribly wrong with bobbing for apples. But there were more dangers lurking around in Halloween goodies. My Dad made us well aware of the potential razor blade or cherry bomb or “drug injected by needle” that just might be hiding in our mini Three Musketeers bar. When we got home from trick-or treating during the non-Zodiac years, we had to line up and pass our bags over to Dad for official inspection. Dad would check for pin holes and the like in our candy wrappers. Many times he would have to taste test our candy to be sure they were safe for us. He had to check A LOT of our candy. Well, he didn’t want a cherry bomb to blow our cheek off.

One time I didn’t listen to my Mom and Dad’s lecture about eating candy at night and I snuck lots of candy from my trick-or-treat bag into my room right before bed, and proceeded to eat most of it. That night, I had the dreaded “eating-candy-before-bedtime nightmare.” About werewolves. Dancing werewolves. If you missed that post, click here, or here (I tend to write about those werewolves quite a bit apparently … )

These days, Halloween has somewhat lost its’ magic. We have a ton of cool Halloween decorations, but never decorate because no one trick-or-treats in our neighborhood. Our neighbors have a light that illuminates our entire cul-de-sac, but strangely enough, they forget to turn it on Halloween night. So we usually go to where the nieces and nephews are to see all their darling princess, Superhero and Tinkerbell costumes. And Jay makes sure to check all of their trick-or-treat candy for dangerous items.


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Oh yeah, they’re stupid alright, or should I say … stooopid. Sure, eating fries is usually stupid if you’re watching your diet, but I’m talking about another kind of fries.

We were in Southern California last week visiting Jay’s family, and Jay’s twin brothers, James and John, were raving about these Stupid Fries we just had to try at a Huntington Beach Restaurant called Red Table. These fries were apparently hot. Spicy hot. Wicked hot. Adam Richman-can’t-eat-them hot. Jay and his brothers love spicy food. Jay eats food so spicy it makes macho Mexican men faint. So the brothers knew Jay just had to try them.

Our son, Mikel, flew in to LA to be with us, and while he was on a layover , he texted Jay to see what we’d be doing that evening. Jay texted back that James and John wanted us to go get some Stupid Fries. Mikel texted back asking if there’d be anything besides potatoes for dinner. See, he thought his Uncles were going to cruise us through a McDonald’s or something for some regular stupid fries. He didn’t know that Stupid Fries were a fancy side dish we’d have at a fancy Huntington restaurant.

Naturally James and John had tried the Stupid Fries before. In fact, James was the first to discover them. He asked the waitress how stupid you had to be to eat them. She said really stupid. So James brought his twin, John, back to the restaurant and they were served by the same waitress. So James told her, since you said someone has to be really stupid to eat these, I brought my brother, John. That’s how it is with James and John. I’m still waiting for the day they take their comedy act on the road.

So we all went to this fancy Huntington restaurant, and there they were on the menu:

See, they’re Stooopid. Note the “Warning!” on the menu. Stay tuned. So they ordered the fries and everyone immediately started digging in to them. See, they look quite innocent:

But that’s not ketchup on the side. And notice the super-freakin’-hot spicy stuff dusted all over them. Oh, and that stuff that’s not ketchup? It’s a sauce made of habanero and ghost chilis (the hottest pepper on the planet apparently) that marinates in its own deathly heat for 3 or 4 days. I didn’t even go near the sauce. I’m not stooopid. But just to say I tried them, I took one little French fry and touched it to the tip of my tongue. Immediately my tongue and bottom lip felt like a big blistering ball of hell fire and brimstone. So I just watched the rest of the family through my tears.

Here’s Jay—the heat lovin’ guy was twitching in pain at this point. Said his mouth was numb, but he kept eating them.

This is John. He had to switch from drinking from his water glass to downing the whole pitcher.

Mikel can’t believe we’ve made him eat these. He’s ready to call Child Protective Services.

Jame’s wife, Diana, is so sweet the fries wouldn’t be mean to her. But she did have to fan herself after every bite. That blur you see below her face is her hand moving like a hummingbird’s wing.

And James was enjoying them, though he had to tend to the tears of pain every once in awhile.

I didn’t take a picture of John’s wife, Debbie, cuz she wasn’t stooopid enough to eat them. She’s a Doctor after all.

Speaking of medical professions, let me show you how the evening ended:

Yep, the stooopid fries got the best of one of the restaurant patrons that night. I’m not kidding. Let’s just say if you make a visit to the Red Table in Huntington Beach, steer clear of the Stooopid Fries. Just order yourself a nice little salad.

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