I shall now regale you with the tale of “The Man Who Loved Halloween (Perhaps A Bit Too Much).”
I, quite simply, lose my fucking mind on Halloween — particularly since the arrival in my life six years ago of Mr. Bones.
Mr. Bones is a 4-foot tall skeleton who sports a black grim-reaper cloak, and who has in the back of his skull an electrical input and a microphone input. When one speaks into the microphone, one’s voice is broadcast from a speaker hidden beneath Mr. Bones’ cloak while his jaw moves in sync with the dialogue and his eyes light up.
Wonder Woman purchased Mr. Bones in the middle of August back in 2002 for about $20, and I can say without any hesitation that we have gotten far more than our money’s worth out of his undead ass.
In years past, I have hidden in the bushes with the microphone while Count Dracula (a.k.a. my uncle, the other member of the family who is as fully looney as I am about Halloween) has greeted the children as they come up the front walk and led them to Mr. Bones, who sits in a pseudo-coffin (known the other 364 days of the year as your run-of-the-mill toybox) with the candy bowl in his lap.
Some version of the following exchange then takes place:
“And what is your name, young man?” the Count asks.
“Timmy,” says Timmy with no small amount of trepidation.
“OK, Timmy, come say hello to my friend Mr. Bones,” says the Count, leading Timmy to Mr. Bones’ coffin. “Mr. Bones, say hello to Timmy.”
“Hello, Timmy,” says Mr. Bones (in an accent that, for no particular reason, has evolved into a mix of Transylvanian, Spanish and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog). “So nice to meet you.”
Invariably, the kids are surprised that Mr. Bones has actually used their name.
“He just said my name!” they exclaim disbelievingly. “How did he do that?”
“What do you mean, ‘How did he do that?’ I’m Mr. Bones, man! I’m magic!”
At this point, most kids have a funny look on their face that says, “OK, I know there’s no such thing as talking skeletons with red-LED eyes, but holy stromboli, I am totally having a conversation with a talking skeleton with red-LED eyes, and I’m trying to decide if this is the coolest thing ever or the freakiest thing ever or both.”
“Now, Timmy, what do you say on Halloween to get some candy?” asks Mr. Bones.
“Trick or treat?”
“Trick or treat! That’s right. Nice. OK, Timmy, take a piece of candy, yes, that’s righ— WAIT! NOT THAT ONE!”
“I’m keeding, Timmy. You take it. I’m on a diet. And make sure you brush your teeth after you eat all that candy, man, because if you don’t, your grill will end up looking like mine.”
This year, I realized I was tired of sitting in the bushes, so I got my geek on in a big, big way.
Enter, 25-foot microphone-cord extension from Radio Shack, and hello, me sitting comfortably inside our front room by the big picture window, scarfing down pizza and beer.
“But wait: If you were sitting by the big picture window, couldn’t people see you talking into the microphone?”
Good question: No. I covered the windows with some plastic ghost-mural things.
“But … but … how could you see the trick-or-treaters?”
Another good question: As I said, I got my geek on … to include planting in the bush behind Mr. Bones a baby-monitor camera that allowed me to see all of the action on a small, television-like monitor.
“Wow. That is geeky. Can it get any geekier?”
Oh, helllllll yes. In addition to the microphone and the monitor, my newly established indoor mission-control post also included a remote switch for a flood lamp positioned on the left side of the lawn, a remote switch for a strobe light positioned on the right side of the lawn, a remote switch for a fog machine in the bushes behind the Bonester, and a remote control for the boombox from which emanated the obligatory spooky-sounds CD. Throw in two bushels of that fake-cobweb shit (which Wonder Woman so graciously strung up all over the front yard), a giant spider web and accompanying giant spider, some feaux tombstones, my mother dressed as a witch (taking over for the missing Count), my sister dressed like a gypsy seated at a table giving feaux Tarot-card readings, and a full-sized plywood coffin containing this year’s newest addition, Pirate Pete, and you have the mini-Disneyland of our quiet little neighborhood.
Of course, I had to take a half-day off from work in order to have time to string up the 2.5 miles of extension cords and cables required to pull this whole shebang off. But it’s worth it — especially when Wonder Woman tells me that she, while taking Zan and Jayna trick-or-treating, heard kids saying they wanted to go to the “cool house” or the “spooky house.” I’m spooky and cool, yo.
Particularly funny this year was handing the microphone to a pleading Zan, who had watched me deliver my Mr. Bones spiel numerous times, and who, using a funny voice of his own, nailed it while interacting with a couple of young trick-or-treaters. It’s like I’m teaching him the family business.
“Some day, son, all of this crap can be yours!”