I grew up with nary a ghost or a witch decoration in our house. We went to church. We had 90% “Harvest”, 10% “Halloween”. Even my elementary school threw class Harvest parties. With apples. Hay bales. Orange mashed potatoes for lunch. And way not enough candy to make the time off math class, worth it.
My sisters and I did go Trick-Or-Treating a few times. There was the year I was a patchwork Native American. The year I was a hobo, holding a candlestick (1700s Hobo? It was stuff I found in my house). The year I was Snoopy (TM on the mask, but not the socks I was wearing as white dog arms, the leotard stuffed to make me look almost pregnant instead of dog-belly-like, and my actual dog’s food bowl I was filling with candy). Then, skip ahead to college where I dressed as a zombie, while all the other girls were slutty _______. “This is disturbing,” my Mom said, looking at a photo of me with fake blood oozing from my mouth. She missed her underage preggo Snoopy.
Fast forward to now. Since the days are shorter this time of year, I end up doing my fancy delivery job in the dark, most nights in Beverly Hills. You know who has the money to really do up their houses for Halloween? People that live in Beverly Hills. I had a delivery to Paris Hilton’s gated neighborhood the other nite, on a particularly foggy evening, and my mouth dropped open when I saw the majesty. Spiders the size of luxury sedans, lurking on rooftops in cobwebs draped over houses like limp circus tents. Orange and purple fairy lights twinkling in every last topiary for miles. A FUNERAL – with a real life silver coffin – skeleton arm reaching out Carrie-style, green light bursting from the satin interior, smoke crawling along the grass, and skeleton funeral viewers: some standing, cloaked in rags, some seated. All lining the path to the front door of this particular mansion.
But here is the thing. Those decorations are killer on Halloween night when they’re lit and meant to be experienced. Up until that point, they kind of hang out haphazardly, waiting.
For me. Alone. In the dark.
So, here I come, with my arms full of my car keys, my cell phone, credit card slips, pens, and bags of steaks, pasta or chow fun. Just doin my job. I’m already aware that there are REAL spider webs and the spiders to go with them, in nearly every entrance to every home. Often times people forget to turn on their porch lights. Sometimes there are uneven staircases winding through overgrown ivy. Does anyone ever enter the house this way??! If the houses are in the Hollywood Hills, there will likely be a coyote sighting. Or at least you will hear them. Or something, rustling in the bushes.
I press the buzzer with my elbow. Bzzz. (– A hundred times). “…Ah, yeah?” “Hi! It’s Lauren with your food!” (Remember you ordered food tonight?) I try to sound like I’m smiling as I shuffle their insalata caprese back to the center of the container, without the security camera catching it. “Yep.” Bzzz. I kick open the gate.
At one house, I ran into a pile of decorative gourds. At another, a tangle with a blow-up black cat. At the next, I was waiting at the front door for what seemed like 5 minutes before crapping my pants when I realized there was Death, sitting in a rocker just behind me. My stomach went into my throat or my heart went into my stomach or both. “That’s really scary in the dark!” I said, pointing to the shadowy skeleton. “Tis the season”, he said. TURN YOUR PORCH LIGHTS ON FOR DELIVERY PEOPLE WHO ARE ME, I said in my mind. Then I left with 3 spiders hitching a ride on my hair.
I hate this job, I murmur to myself as I calculate my tip. Then it’s off to the next restaurant, followed by the next house trying to out-do last year’s Halloween freak fest.
Hmm. I wonder how Tis The Season would do if I showed up in a hockey mask, holding a bloody machete, “Hi! How are you tonight? I made sure there was extra parmesan for the fettuccini and they included a few extra cookies for you guys!” Rrrg. It’s not gonna work.