Unhinged Alaska: Bobbin’ for Apples

If you take a quick peek around the corner of tomorrow, you will see Halloween lurking there.

It used to be a time where diminutive ghosts, wee witches, and tiny devils encased in red long johns prowled alongside 4-foot pirates while ringing neighborhood doorbells in quest of caramel apples, popcorn balls and homemade brownies.

Most of the costumes were fashioned from whatever could be sewn together utilizing closet scraps and pilfered items from storage chests hosting dusty cobwebs in attic alcoves.

Nowadays, costume originality seems to be left to credit card limits, ad blitzes and box store floor displays.

As for the fresh baked goodies reliably garnered from the friendly but zany old lady who dwelt in the spooky gray house at the dark end of the cul-de-sac? Well, they have been reduced to hermetically sealed mega bags of sugar bombs guaranteed to put the family dentist into a new Mercedes. Fresh fruits? (Yeah, I thought they were lame back in my time too.) Forget ‘em unless they’re screened through a metal detector, blasted with Xrays and chemically analyzed by a crime lab.

Things have changed so much that, in certain Lower 48 areas, the only way a kid can get some serious trick-r-treating done is with tactical support units and close air support.

Come to think of it, even as adults, things that used to creep us out have morphed, big time.

H. P. Lovecraft once stated: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

In other words, overactive adult imaginations brew well in psychological petri dishes overflowing with trepidations of what lolls just beyond the reach of our senses, especially after a few stiff grogs of Boone’s Farm Pumpkin Wine.

Think about it. What scares you now? Certainly not ghoulish urban legends, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, gargoyles or goblins because you are mature and know better, right? What about entities that are slippery, slimy, squiggly and squirmy, especially, if they skitter and scuttle? Or, do only fungal creatures that skulk, crawl or ooze tingle your spine?

Let’s not forget aging graveyards seeping gnarled fingers of fog that seem to grope and strangle surrounding tombstones. Or, a rhythmic thump on your home that continues long after a midnight tempest has died.

Could it be that you are repulsed when something furry quivers at your fingertips as you reach deep within a hole in a wall? Does it bother you when your dog bristles and growls at an empty room? Do your innards ice at the creaking of old cellar steps when no one else is home? Do you get goose bumps when something suddenly slithers along the storage shed’s wall as your flashlight dies? How about all of the above?

You are not alone. There are many things that terrify post-adolescent personages, but not all have claws, drooling maws or razor fangs. Not all screech, howl or wail.

We now suffer the hideous specter of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas commercials mixed within a steaming kettle of September ads and reality TV programs targeting those without discernible brain waves, contestants included.

Worse yet, every two years or so, we are plagued with droning political debates between busloads of political wannabees who can’t decide what’s more abhorrent, each other’s policies and/or opponents who purportedly cheated on their preschool entrance exams.

Nowadays the feeling of trepidation is the norm when venturing anywhere near the quicksand-laden quagmire of issues and bizarre strange manipulations within the catacombs of state or federal government agencies. Merely contemplating what might be unearthed spawns a shudder worse than the concept of trailing a Sumo wrestler, so huge that he affects the tides, up a set of stairs while he’s styling a set of Speedos.

Finally, did you realize that, even with all the aforementioned repugnant manifestations considered, somewhere out there lurks an entity and peril much more insidious? It triggers steely hearts to race and blood course cold at just its simple mention. It is the ultimate stalker and gives no quarter.

It is a certified letter from the IRS, the quintessential definition of something that can really scare the hell out of you and may eventually eat you alive.

Ain’t being a grownup fun?

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com at the moment, after the thirty first, who knows?

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