Over Easy: The many faces of our national fright night

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 10/18/2019 6:00:20 PM
Modified: 10/18/2019 10:07:27 PM

Demons, ghosts and political activists are on the move in the Upper Valley, a sure sign the seasons are a changin’.

Activists are already drumming up support for the 2020 presidential primary, at least in my West Lebanon neighborhood. As for ghosts, etc., Halloween observances may temporarily overshadow the screams and taunts coming out of our nation’s cursed castle, that is, the White House.

I am surprised by Halloween’s soaring popularity among erstwhile adults. In my heart, I see it as a children’s holiday, a national candy-grab, but social media persuades me that many former kids are crazy about it.

Not me. For many years I’ve dressed up as Dan Mackie on Halloween, which admittedly is underwhelming. If I wasn’t passing out candy, I wouldn’t get a second look.

We did have one Halloween triumph, though. One year my wife, Dede, and I portrayed a pair of synchronized swimmers for a party, which was funny, I suppose, since I am over 6 feet tall and she is just over 5 feet. Our little routine, which resembled some aspects of the Macarena, was pretty good, too.

I do wish Halloween fans branched out from the blood and gore. I would be impressed, for example, if someone came to my door Halloween night dressed as President Calvin Coolidge. I would be bowled over if Coolidge came with his vice president, Charles G. Dawes, a general, banker, diplomat and composer.

Not only was he co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, he also wrote a melody that decades later was adapted for a Billboard number one hit, It’s All in the Game, in 1958. As Wikipedia notes, flatly, “Dawes is the only vice president to be credited with a No. 1 pop hit” — though we can’t know for sure what Mike Pence has up his sleeve.

There’s no end to inspiration from the world of politics. In my ideal Halloween, the Addams family would be replaced by the Adams family, John and Abigail, whose public service and personal letters during the founding of our country are national treasures. John Quincy Adams in a baby carriage would be a nice touch.

For a trio of trick-or-treaters, history buffs will surely consider FDR’s vice presidents: John Nance Garner, Henry Wallace and Harry S. Truman. I don’t know a great deal about Garner, but I like his name, and appreciate that he came from an era when serial killers weren’t the only ones to have three names. Wallace was extremely progressive, and a costume should reflect his sweeping agricultural reforms during the New Deal. I’d suggest corn, wheat and any hogs you can round up.

Of course, not everyone likes politics. The world of science offers many opportunities, such as Richard T. James, the father of the Slinky, who invented it by accident when he was trying to develop “something to keep sensitive ship equipment steady at sea,” according to Wikipedia, my go-to source for such things. Why is it I can only accidentally invent broken things?

Charles Darwin, who “invented’’ evolution in a manner of speaking, would be a fine choice too, but any respectable Darwin portrayal would have to incorporate the Galapagos Islands and the HMS Beagle, not to mention lizards and turtles and birds. Halloween costume stores will be of no help in this endeavor.

Locally, I suppose many Norwich residents this year will create elaborate costumes representing the new blinking crossing lights that sent the town listserv into a tizzy. The debate is over whether they will save lives or destroy the village’s character and democracy at the same time.

I know better than to wander into the middle of this, but I suggest that any depiction of the Great Blinking Crosswalk Lights of Norwich be powered by solar energy, as befits the town’s zeitgeist. A small wind turbine generating power from atop a trick-or-treater’s head would be a tour de force, but might be too much of an engineering challenge to complete before Oct. 31.

To return to political options, the Ukrainan “colleagues” of Rudy Giuliani who have been accused of violating U.S. campaign finance laws would be a timely Halloween theme. But any kids reading this column should be advised that if they really want to be authentic, they’ll need several hundred thousand dollars from possibly shady sources to pull this off. (Contact me through back channels.)

The Ukrainian colleagues are not well known outside of certain circles, so Giuliani would have to be portrayed as well. The challenge in imitating him is that he has seemed a curious imitation of himself in recent years.

It would be worth the effort to add indictments, handcuffs and federal officers. Trick-or-treat in certain liberal-leaning zip codes and you won’t believe the haul you’ll get from appreciative candy donors.

Avoid other ZIP codes, however, where people will see red and accuse you of sedition and other high crimes not usually associated with Halloween.

But don’t let that get you down, kids. Real tricks and real treats are lucrative right now from here to Ukraine, and nearly the whole world over!

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.




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