Full-throttle Halloween (or Halloween Balls to the Wall)

So, I sorta hinted that I’d write this on a FB post. I’d like to say it’s just another article, but it’s the first I’ve posted here in nearly a decade (conveniently corresponding with my new job nearly a decade (!!) ago…). Since no one has had a problem with my prolific FB posts in that time, it’s probably safe to make a new blog post, especially since it has zero relation to my job, and the subsequent publication requirements/review for anything job-related…

So, yeah… I love Halloween, I always have, I always will, though there have been some years where I’ve been less than enthusiastic about it due to external issues. Those issues were mostly due to either not being at home (like 2018, with the house fire that had us elsewhere for a year) or having work rudely interfere (a maintenance event in 2009 or 2010, that had me at work for the entirety of the trick-or-treat window, where I found out people were taking pictures of our place while I was stuck bringing up servers).

Last year, after a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided “fuck it, we need Halloween this year”. And in so doing, I decided to finally do something that I’d wanted to do since I started my first Frederick-local job at NCI-Frederick back in 2007. And to honor the memory of a coworker that, while I didn’t really get to know, I really liked his approach to Halloween…

I didn’t really get a chance to know Bob well (the name he was known by, and probably the only one I won’t use initials for), he was Networking, I was Sysadmin. So we did interact, but not as much as you’d expect. He was nice, a “hoopy frood”, if you’re familiar with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… In other words, a nice guy you could work with, and got along with well. And then there was the day he didn’t show up for work. And another. And another. A few coworkers (including our director at the time) decided to go to his place of residence, and… found his body. He’d died. He’d fucking died, and it took coworkers concerned about him to find his fucking corpse! His partner had left him a while before, after he’d literally sold organs to buy their place. That All-Hands meeting was, to say the least, devastating. (Sorry, V, S, or R for reliving all this…)

But after that, R2, a coworker friend who we’d had over for Thanksgiving and our first deep-fried turkey (a whole other story!), let me know about Bob’s approach to Halloween… Bob, like me, loved Halloween unconditionally. He would have huge buckets of candy, “chocolate with nuts”, “chocolate without nuts”, “non-chocolate”, and would not only tell kids “take what you want”, but would literally reiterate that while taking handfuls of candy, dumping them into bags and buckets.

So, in 2021, with everyone weary of a year+ of a pandemic, and me wanting to really, really make Halloween special again, what else could I do? Honoring Bob! Have literal buckets of candy for everyone (and non-candy, because why the fuck not? Not all kids want or can have candy of any sort, and it was just following the logical trend). And a whole-hearted “take what you want”, loudly and proudly proclaimed, to each and every child that crossed our driveway. No need to even say “trick or treat!”, we would pre-empt that with a “Happy Halloween! Take what you want!”.

I can think of no better way to honor the memory of someone I only grew to admire after learning of his greatness in spreading joy to kids everywhere after his passing. I just wish I’d gotten to know him better while he was still with us…

I like to think that last year was a success. I want to do better this year. Last year, hand-written signs that people had trouble reading. A mother, with tears in her eyes, thanking us for letting her daughter have a Halloween she could participate in. A put-out teen daughter, translating the signs for her parents and her younger brother (and who finally relented and let us give her a bag to collect her own candy, because why not? It’s fucking Halloween!)… So this year… Lighted signs. In both English and Spanish. Icons to show what’s where, hopefully clear enough if someone comes by who doesn’t understand either language (and I’m sure as shit going to add that language next year, if need be!).

There’s going to be music. Lighting effects. Maybe, if I can motivate myself enough, animatronics and fog machine insanity. All, of course, to make the day happy, special, and for the kids who can just be who they want to be.

All of this, both because I absolutely love Halloween, and want to remember a dude and coworker I never got a chance to know well, but really loved his approach to one of the most special and magical days of the year. Bob, I miss you, even if I never got a chance to really know you. Every Halloween going forward is a tribute and memorial to your huge and loving heart. Anything less just wouldn’t do your memory justice. You brought joy and happiness to so many, and I can’t think of a better way to enshrine that than to do the same to the best of my ability.

One Comment

  1. Love it ?! I had no idea this was your inspiration. What an amazing way to honor Bob while making am impact to so many kids! I remember his work with teaching sign launguage at TYCTWD and the sad fact that the coworkers who went to his house on “that day” were told be HR that they had to use vacation hours on their time card????! Thanks for sharing and thanks to you and Cathy for sharing your love of Halloween so generously!

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