We have a very special treat for this spooky, spooky season, folks. Please give a warm League welcome to our guest today, the lovely and talented Miss Amber Benson.
Amber is known for a variety of things. Number one reason for her fame, of course, is that she is a SUPERFAN of my Simon Canderous series, which proves both her wit and intelligence. She even gave me a keen quote for book three. She is also remarkable in that she and I share a pub date for our urban fantasy series. The second book in her Calliope Reaper-Jones series , Cat's Claw, comes out on February 23, 2010, which gives you plenty of time to run out and get book one in it, Death's Daughter. She is also a director, producer, and actor best known in our paranormal little corner of the world as Tara Maclay from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
What I found out earlier this year, and it should come as no surprise, is that Amber is also one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Ridiculously so. When I asked her to guest blog about Halloween and how it figures into her life, she jumped at the chance with her usual charm. So read on, true believers. Feel free to give her some love in the comments and we'll see if we can coax her out of her writer hole to speak up in the comments. Without further ado, here is Miss Amber Benson and her tale of a Halloween long ago.
Why Plastic Jack-O-Lanterns SuckI grew up in Birmingham, Alabama in a suburb called Mountain Brook. It was the place where all the doctors and lawyers and other white-collar professionals lived with their big houses and their Mercedes convertibles and their tennis courts––and this whole suburban wonderland was overseen by a giant wrought iron sign that read: Dunbarton.
(all names have been changed to protect the not so innocent)
(all names have been changed to protect the not so innocent)
Which was our subdivision.
Anyway, I think I was six the Halloween that the orange, plastic, Jack-o-Lantern buckets got mixed up.
Upper-middle class suburban Halloween time:
A bunch of high-strung, neurotic Jewish father’s taking their easily excitable progeny out trick or treating in the windy––and usually wet––autumn night.
Of course, when I say ‘night’ what I actually mean is like 6:30pm–– when the sun has just set and twilight is still lingering.
In my neighborhood there were tons of trees and tons of land between each house. That meant there was a lot of walking just to get a handful or two of candy. As we made our way through the neighborhood we saw that a few houses here and there had been decorated for the occasion, but mostly these new monstrosities just sat in the dark, unadorned, as if it were any other night of the year.
My dad, a psychiatrist who loves to make absurd jokes and harass (his word, not mine) his children and the friends of his children, was saddled with my little sister and me for the evening. I was dressed like a witch with a black pointy hat that had impotence issues, a black dress, green face paint and a putty mole on the end of my nose––don’t ask me why I went green because I don’t know why. I guess I was just channeling the Wicked Witch of the West that year. My sister, who was one and a half, was dressed as Charlie Chaplin in a pink onesie, white pancake make-up, back eyeliner eyebrows and mustache and a tightly curled black wig––if you’re thinking mini-baby afro with a Hitler mustache then you’re halfway there.
Accompanying us was my best friend, Carla, her sisters and her dad, a dermatologist and, also, my dad’s friend. Carla was Raggedy-Ann that year, I think. (There’s a picture of the two of us from that night––pre-Jack-o-Lantern mishap––floating around out there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to call my mom and verify this piece of information.)
Let me state now how idiotic it was that instead of individualized bags and other candy collecting receptacles, we all had the same orange, grinning plastic Jack-o-Lantern buckets. You’d think if everyone was gonna have the same thing then someone would’ve been smart enough to put names on the damn things, but no, there was absolutely no way to tell anyone’s Jack-o-lantern apart from anyone else’s.
Remember this fact as we continue:
Things proceeded normally for the first hour or so, but as it got wetter and we kids got cranky from the walking and sugar consumption, the mood turned. Instead of excitement at each house, there was complaining and pissed-offness as our rag-tag assemblage trudged (seemingly) forever onward.
My dad had to carry my sister cause she didn’t really walk that well, so he was getting tired––and his bad back was starting to twinge––from the extra baby Chaplin poundage. I was giddy with sugar and the freedom of being out at night where all the scary things were supposedly happening. As the night wore on and these scary things did not appear, I became agitated.
I have no idea whose house we were hitting up for loot when everything came to a head, but it had a long red brick walkway and an impossibly large set of red brick stairs bordered by what seemed like acres of very green lawn.
In the heat of the moment, my friend, Cara, and I, as we approached the front door and fought over the doorbell, got our Jack-o-Lantern buckets mixed up as. I don’t know how these things happen. One minute, everything is fine and then suddenly the crap had hit the fan and everyone is freaking out. There were tears, recriminations, calls of cheating, etc, etc. It seemed that we both wanted the same Jack-o-Lantern, regardless of whose it actually was––for some reason one of the buckets had become defective and was now lesser than the other bucket in absolutely no discernible way.
My friend and I, it seemed, were going to come to blows over this Halloween mix up. I was getting really riled up and I had only in the past few years given up my penchant for biting, so things might’ve gotten really crazy if my dad hadn’t taken it upon himself to pluck both plastic Jack-o-Lantern buckets from us, put them behind his back and switch’em all around until neither of us knew which was what anymore. Finally, after much deliberation, we each picked a hand and that was the Jack-o-lantern we got to keep.
My dad was considered a hero for his quick thinking and the evening moved on, only a little worse for wear.
Now, I could say that we were both satisfied with what we got and that we stayed best friends from that day forward forever more––but that wouldn’t really be the truth. Life doesn’t work that way, as everyone knows. Friends come and go, as does the need to dress up and ring your neighbor’s doorbell and demand that they give you candy.
That night, we just both knew we had been outfoxed by my dad––with logic, no less!––and, therefore, we had no leg to stand on, nothing with which to protest the injustice we had both just suffered.
We were screwed.
Still, I learned a very valuable lesson that Halloween. One that to this very day I have never forgotten:
Plastic Jack-o-Lanterns suck.