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The Halloween thing

Alex Miller

He’s Darth Vader this year, and it seems like only yesterday that he was Winnie the Pooh. Quite a leap, I should say, but you should hear his heavy breathing. It’s not bad at all for a 4-year-old.Darth has some kind of utility belt, so Andy and I took a look at it and assessed its properties.”You can push the buttons,” I suggested.”No,” he said, harkening to his recollection of things Darth Vader does and does not do in the films. “He doesn’t push buttons.””Well what about this,” I say, touching something that looks like a communication device (and here I thought Darth did everything telepathically). “Hello? Emperor? Whaddaya want on your pizza?”Andy didn’t think that was funny. Put on the mask and he’s serious as a heart attack about his character. Fortunately, his patience with wearing a mask is roughly equal to his ability to sit still in the movie theater.And so the house is filled with Halloween stuff, earnestly molded from plastic by people in China who desperately wanted to know why we Americans were spending our hard-earned money on things like plastic pumpkins and light-up witches. If nothing else, it must make them feel smarter than us, as they use their hard-earned money to buy things like food and clothing.Whatever. This is America and we’re allowed to be silly because we win most of our wars. We have this thing Jen found on clearance last November (the only way to buy such items, in her estimation) that’s like a skeleton mobile. Press a button and an eerie light appears and the whole mess of plastic skulls jiggles for about 15 seconds, creating a noise aimed to chill the soul.It looks really cool in the dark.The worst thing I ever bought was fake spider-web stuff. Take the time to do it right and it looks very creepy, but since the first time five or so years ago, I haven’t taken the time to do it right. It’s a pain in the ass – like putting tinsel on the Christmas tree times five. Maybe this year … there’s still time.We have over 700 pounds of pumpkin lining the stairs to our home. One day soon, we will haul out the knives and scrapers and gougers and stencil template thingies and get down to business. But here in cold country, don’t make the mistake of leaving carved jack-o-lanterns outside – they get downright weird. And I don’t mean fun, Halloween-y weird. It’s more like science-project or item-left-in-the-fridge-too-long weird. This is what they brush your teeth with in HELL.This year, we have a little bit of a Halloween metamorphosis. While Andy goes from Winnie to Darth, Austin, the 14-year-old, has sworn off the whole thing. Too cool, he is. I suggested some light vandalism – soaping windows and the like – but he’s too scrupulous for such things. There’s still hope for Max, 11. He’s fired up about his Annakin Skywalker costume, and I try not to think about the fact that his get-up is that of proto-Darth, the violent young man who goes on to murder his colleagues and some children on his way to turning into a black-clad, air-gasping super-villain, played by … his younger brother.Ah, how I miss the days of the Hundred Acre Wood, painted-on whiskers, fluffy tails and the like. At least Kaylie, at 12, has seen the advantage of dressing up as Tinkerbell: She looks very cute, and no doubt some boys will take notice of the fact. Assistant managing editor Alex Miller is father to five. His column appears on Fridays. Reach him at 970-949-0555 or amiller@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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