Halloween and My Fight With a Pirate


Growing up, Christmas had been the only holiday where my family really decorated the house. Birthdays might warrant a 'Happy Birthday' banner strung up on the wall and Easter brought some flowers and colored eggs in a basket, but that was it. It wasn't until after I was married that I realized my future ex-wife Arlene had a deep, dark secret: she was addicted to Halloween.

Like any addiction, it started out harmless enough. In our first small apartment there were just a few novelty pumpkins and a small smattering of witches and goblins scattered about. However, much how a goldfish will grow to the size of its container, so did Arlene's addiction to this holiday. With each new house more and more witches showed up (and I don't mean her sisters) along with ghosts, bigger goblins, and a variety of bats stuck to the wall.

When the kids came along to have a house filled with Halloween decorations was appropriate. The trick-or-treaters that ventured up our walkway were assaulted by various forms of zombies and ghouls that reached from the grave to take hold of the little princesses and cowboys in search of candy.

Then, like everything else in this world, technological attached itself to the holiday and things started to change. Arlene eagerly adapted to the new technology and quickly supersized the decorations that surrounded me. Witches that once only stared at me from the mantle screamed and reached out anytime I walked by. Skeletons popped out of coffins whenever I sneezed. The phone would ring (yes, an actual phone attached to the wall) and Frankenstein would start to hula dance to a ukulele version of The Monster Mash. The slightest movement, the most inconsequential sound, would cause the dead to rise, ghosts to howl, and witches to take flight.

It drove me crazy.

Each year the ghouls and goblins grew bigger and more elaborate. I would come home from work, sneaking through the front door like some cartoon gigolo trying not to wake his sleeping wife. Shoes in hand, I would open the front door only to have the Phantom of the Opera spring to life and play my entrance music on his pipe organ. A mummy in a rocking chair (why?) would frantically sway to the Phantom's beat while a spider repelled from the ceiling like an eight-legged Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible.

Behind all the macabre music and awkward monster dances I heard the laughter. It was shrill and harsh and mocked my attempt of entry into my own house. The laughter came from the disembodied head that hung between the kitchen and living room. The head that watched over the menagerie of evil that was now my home. The black eye patch and red bandanna gave away who he was - the laughing skeleton pirate head.

I hated that f*cking pirate head.

Of all the decorations his was the most irksome. A floating head that laughed at your every move gets to you after a while. I was forever bumping my head on him and he would swing back and forth while his skeleton jaw opened and closed while that hideous laughed poured out.

Fortunately, he was not long for this world.

One night I woke up and stumbled down the stairs to get a drink of water. I guarded each step so not to wake the house of horrors that stood waiting for the slightest sound. I made it safely through the living room in the dark, but momentarily forgot about my hanging companion. The skeleton pirate head hit me as I entered the kitchen and his laughter exploded in the room. It was mere instinct that caused me to raise my right hand and, like the shot putter I once was, come up from the hip and follow through until my fist connected with the jackal and sent him flying through the kitchen, landing squarely in the kitchen sink.

Who's laughing now?

Apparently, he was, because I could still hear his laughter echo off the aluminum sink. Then he stopped, this time for good. His lower jaw had broken off, which actually made him more frightening. Without ceremony, I tossed him in the garbage and went back to bed.

Arlene never asked about the pirate, she knew my hatred for him and rightfully figured I had enough. There were enough of her other friends in the house for Arlene to worry about one missing pirate head.

The kids are grown and mostly gone now, and Arlene lives in a big house on a dead end street. She doesn't get many, if any, trick-or-treaters, but she still decorates her house as if it was an attraction on a haunted hayride. I'm sure the all the characters throughout her house still come to life at the slightest sound.

Well, with one exception.

Happy Halloween.