Halloween, Monsters, and Stan

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 props.

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 his birthday.

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 neighborhood kids.


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 decorations.

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 by the time Halloween rolled around, so we decided against Trick or Treating this year, and instead stayed on the porch again and handed out candy.


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 to 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 a nap.

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!


Copyright 2010-2013 the Ale[x]orcist.