Documenting my creation's on-going experiences
with Halloween and monster culture. I will have to add pictures
to this at some point to flesh it out, but many of the events described
on here (especially the costumes) are featured on other pages.
True story: My very first thought when Dani told me she was pregnant
was, "Okay, that will make him 3 months old next Halloween."
This also meant that Dani wasn't pregnant during Halloween, which gave
us a lot of freedom in terms of costumes. However, her pregnancy
began October 31st, according to the ob/gyn's calculations. Technically, that's the last day of mom's
period, not the date of
conception. We were too tired to do anything of the kind
Halloween night since we were out until 4am at Liz's party, then took
pictures in our costumes before we went to bed.
Stan accompanied me to Halloween stores starting out when he wasn't
even three months old yet. I'd carry him along in a Baby Bjorn
front pack and show him all the monster decorations. Other
customers would get a giggle out of me showing him masks and spider
Babies don't really smile much or laugh at all until they're three
months old. The very first thing I got him to smile as was a
glittery Jack o'lantern wall hanging that I found at Joann's (craft
store). We just had to buy it to see if we could get him to smile
at it again.
The first time I got him to laugh was a few weeks later when I acted
like I was cutting him with a butter knife. That was apparently
the most hysterical thing in the world to a three month-old. We
got the video camera out because it was such a break-through to hear
him laugh. In Chinese tradition, the moment a baby first laughs
is considered his/her first birthday, which makes sense. Babies
start laughing at three months. Add nine months in the womb, and
that's one year. You can hear me saying in the video that it's
For his first Halloween, Dani and I were Popeye and Olive Oyl.
Stan as Swee' Pea was the perfect compliment to our costumes.
While we didn't take him to Oak Lawn, we did have him at our Halloween
party that year, then took him to Liz's party. One of the guests
at the latter thought he was just a prop. He was calm and relaxed
or napping through most of the evening.
We also took him to the Munster Mansion in Waxahatchie, although he was
barely old enough or aware enough to get anything out of the experience.
No Trick or Treating that first
year. He stayed on the porch with us handing out candy to the
I started buying Scooby Doo figures on eBay when Stan was only just
barely talking, maybe around a year or so old. His favorite toy
was a Mystery Machine because its doors opened and closed like a real
van. One of the first things I could get him to say was (while I
held the figure of a villain up to him), "What does the monster
say?" Him: "Rahhhhhhhhgerrrrr."
Walgreens has always had a surprisingly good assortment of Halloween
decorations. When Stan was maybe a couple years old, I look him
there and was looking through their offerings. Stan wandered up
and down the aisle doing his own browsing.
One of the workers was still stocking the shelves at that point (this
was still early in the season, but we're always among the first there
when Halloween starts showing up). He said he had been on the
aisle most of the day, and Stan was the first kid his age to come down
it without being scared or crying even. He was unphased and even
interested in all the decorations.
One of the first things Stan could say
clearly and consistently was "Halloween." Whenever we went
shopping, I would tell him that we were "going to see some
Halloween." Often he would spot things on his own and say,
"Howoweeeeeeen!" This continued right through Christmas when the
pumpkin and ghost inflatables were replaced with Santa and snowman
inflatables. Stan's reaction: "Howoweeeeeeen!" I guess the
two were indistinguishable to him since I often went to Garden Ridge in
late September looking for Christmas lights to use in our Halloween
We were the Conehead family from SNL in
the '70s. Granted, they had a daughter, but I make no secret that
I wanted a girl. Of course, the Coneheads had a teenage daughter,
so I should count myself lucky.
Stan was at our party, but he was getting
too big to go out to Oak Lawn or Liz's party. It was that
in-between age where he was too old to be carried around all night but
too little to make it on his own.
He was only just getting good at walking
the time Halloween rolled around, so we decided against Trick or
Treating this year, and instead stayed on the porch again and handed
We didn't do as much for Halloween this year because we were in the
middle of renovating the new house and still living at the old
one. That meant it was too complicated to pull together a party
(Most of the decorations were already at the new place along with a lot
of our other belongings, just no furniture). We decided to hand
out candy at the new house, so I put out some decorations late
Halloween afternoon just before the Trick or Treaters started
arriving. I had made more yard fence and gravestones during the
previous summer, so they got some use.
We dressed up as the Wild Things from
"Where the Wild Things Are" with Stan dressed as Max. Admittedly,
it was a bit of a bad age at that point since Stan was getting to be a
wild thing himself and wouldn't keep the headpiece on his costume,
never mind wearing the crown on top of that.
However, this was the first Halloween he had the stamina for a bit of
Trick or Treating, so we took him around while Grandpa handed out candy
on our porch.
When he was about two-and-three-quarters, we happened across horror
host Svengoolie on ME-TV on Saturday night between Halloweens. We
caught the last half of a presentation of "Ghost of Frankenstein," one
of the Universal Monster movies I hadn't seen before. It was
black & white, of course, so I didn't expect Stan to be
particularly interested in the movie. I was wrong. He was
captivated. He watched the film to completion in rapt attention.
As I was putting him to bed that night, I asked him to tell me about
the movie. "They cut out the brain," he said. I was
shocked! This was a major plot point, but it is only discussed
and never shown (due to a plot twist late in the film), and yet he
picked up on that fact just the same.
The next week it was "The Mole People" (which was on my list to watch
anyway), one of the lesser-known Universal Monster movies. He
watched this one as well, even though it was less captivating than many
of the previous Universal films by far. That night I asked him
about the movie and he said, "Monsters come out of the dirt," which is
admittedly the most salient image throughout the film, the shots of the
mole people ascending/descending through the soil. He continued
tell me about this throughout the week and even into the next week.
After that was "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" on Svengoolie.
Stan had a meltdown and had to be put to bed well before the climax of
the film, but somehow he remembered that "The monsters fight," which
was the synopsis he delivered later. Sadly, he missed the major
battle between the title characters, but it wasn't all that great
anyhow. Since that episode, however, he's watched every other one
all the way through (provided it's interesting enough to him).
During "Dracula," he watched intently as the Count made his appearance
in that famous scene on the steps in front of Renfield. The
wolves howled in the background, and suddenly another tiny wolf howled
as well, much more like a little cub. Stan was sitting on the
couch to my left, and Leiann was beyond him. She and I looked at
one another thinking the other had howled, but it was Stan. I got
out the camera and had him do it again on video. It may be the
most adorable thing ever.
Stan has always loved being scared. If I sit there quietly and
then jump at him or make a blood-curdling scream, I always get a
laugh. He is never truly frightened past the first second or so,
then he laughs maniacally. He has never cried or gotten angry
about it. Similarly, he has never been afraid of the dark.
Apparently this was true of me as a child as well, as my dad says I
used to hide in closets and cupboards.
I picked up a copy of "Where the Wild
Things Are" in Toys R Us while we were shopping for presents for a
birthday for a friend's kids. "Who's that?" I asked him, pointing
to Max. "That's me!" he recalled. This was about nine
months after Halloween, but it had stuck with him. Of course, the
costumes had sat around for many months since Halloween, and I had even
tried to take pictures in them again a few months earlier since we
didn't have many good portraits in them from before. He correctly
singled out Moishe and Tzippy as me and Dani.
As I was putting him to bed last night
(7/15/12), he said what I thought was, "I want Mommy."
"Mommy went to bed," I told him.
"No!" he said, "The Mummy movie!"
Generations of kids have been terrified by Universal Monster movies,
but not my kid. Stan was mad because he felt like he didn't get a
scary enough movie on Svengoolie this week. The week before they
showed a Mummy movie, but this past week we watched "Francis in the
Haunted House," which is about a talking mule solving a murder mystery
in a castle (which isn't really a house) that isn't really
haunted. Not scary enough for him. We watched some old
Outer Limits episodes to make
up for it.
From some emails with Katherine
Stan mastered his ABCs and can count to thirteen (except he skips "5"
for some reason). He can correctly identify all the Universal
Monsters and even quote scenes from the films. I kid you not,
this was an actual exchange earlier today:
Me: What does Frankenstein say?
Stan: Good! (Note: This is the first time he came out with
this. Usually he just goes, "Rawr!")
Me: What does he say that about?
Stan: He drinks!
Turns out he was talking about the scene in "Bride of Frankenstein"
when the monster ends up in the blind old man's house in the mountains
and he offers him wine to drink.
>That is so great! You should train children the most important
things first: monsters, movies, music, serial killers.
We have been watching classic monster movies most Saturday
nights. There's a horror host named Svengoolie
(http://svengoolie.com/) who has a show on METV (if you get
that). He's been doing it for years. Mostly just does
trivia about the movies, but he'll occasionally do a fake commercial or
song parody based on the movie. Stan gets a kick out of it.
"Creature From The Black Lagoon" was apparently his favorite because
he's been talking about that one a lot lately even though we saw it a
couple months ago.
On the way home from Mother's Day Out
(10/26/12), Stan said he wanted to go see Halloween, so we went to Pier
1 (where Stan was disappointed and complained that "the monsters aren't
scary"), Michaels (where Halloween things were already mostly sold out
and on clearance), Hobby Lobby (where there wasn't much worth buying
even though it was on sale), then went home because Stan was ready for
10/26/12: While in the tub he did (without prompting) his
"The hand comes out the water" routine. I asked whose hand?
"The Monster's," he said, so I asked him which one. He couldn't
come up with the name, so I said "The Creature... from where?"
Him: "The Blacka Luhgoon!"
2/26/13: After Dani went to bed,
and Stan and I watched Prometheus
on the computer. At some of the more intense scenes in which the
alien(s) were attacking people, Stan said he was scared. I paused
it and asked him if he wanted to watch it, and he kept right on.
In fact, he seemed to enjoy the fact that he was scared by it.
When I asked if he wanted me to continue playing it, he looked at me
like, "Yes, of course I want to watch it!" He mostly had a lot of
questions throughout it rather than being affected by it
emotionally. He wanted things explained to him, why characters
were doing things, what happened to this or that, etc.
8/1/13: My friend Alicia got Stan the book "Mommy?" (illustrated by Maurice Sendak) for his birthday. As we progressed, I
quizzed Stan on who the monsters were since they're all based on the
classic Universal monster movies. We get to the end, and "Mommy"
turns out to be the Bride of Frankenstein. I ask him, "And who's
that?" His enthusiastic response: "Momma!" He thought it
was Dani dressed up as Lily Munster!
More coming soon!