Even today, 33 years after I first played it on the cheap turntable in my Jersey bedroom, I can still remember where every single grunt goes on the entire "Born to Run" album. And if you buy me a drink, I’ll prove it.
Other than that, Bruce Springsteen and I have only one thing in common: We are both fed up with Halloween.
Oh, we’ve both been good sports for years. In my case, that means spending almost as much on candy as I spend on tulips and running frantically to the door for four straight hours. In Springsteen’s case, there were apparently "masked characters," elaborate decorations, and an uncelebrity-like air of welcome at his big house in Rumson, NJ.
But our generosity has been stretched to the breaking point. At his house, too, I’m guessing, the perennials have been trampled into dust! The boxwoods have been
stumbled over and broken! The peach trees have been idly stripped of
branches–one time too many! We have been made into curmudgeons despite ourselves.
Like at Bruce’s house, the problem with Halloween on Caroline Street
in Saratoga Springs, NY is "catastrophic success"–so many visitors, the whole business feels dangerous.
urban here on Caroline Street, so every suburban kid from miles around pours into my
neighborhood for more efficient candy-gathering. Where, I wonder, is
the enterprise among today’s suburban youth? When I was a child, I
walked miles of McMansion gloom just to gather
a handful of Snicker’s bars.
But it’s not just the neighborly cityscape that draws the crowds
here. It’s the mood, including the many Victorian houses that, like mine, are crying out for a five-digit paint job but contain people without the dough. My next-door neighbors, a super-nice young couple, go
all out on the atmospherics, including bringing out an animatronic figure named Sully who
rips open his chest and screams every time somebody claps. A little
further up Caroline Street, there are other neighbors with a spooky Italianate house who get really
spooky and lurk in the overgrown hemlocks to scare the bejesus out of
The result is thousand children and their parents appearing on
my doorstep every Halloween. Frankly, I didn’t think I was buying a
job hosting a street festival when I bought my house.
Of course, I might not feel so invaded, if the crowds weren’t so destructive to my garden. Last year, I actually had the Headless Horsemen on a real live horse standing in my flower bed! With the horse rearing up in terror at Sully’s screams! Absolutely insane.
Still, I’m sure I don’t have it as bad as The Boss. Nobody assumes they know me when they don’t and calls me "Bruce" when they ought to be calling me Mr. Springsteen. That, I’m assuming, is truly creepy.
For me, there is only one upside to this increasingly upsetting and anarchic holiday: Out of a thousand kids, maybe three every year are rude. The rest–suburban, urban, poor, rich, carefully costumed or carelessly costumed–are touchingly grateful and polite.
A holiday that reminds you of the inherent goodness of children…well, I still hate it, but possibly a little less than I did three paragraphs ago.