Junk in the Trunk

arrangement-blackboard-candle-1449058Trunks are super useful. If you’re an elephant, they’re a necessity. If you want to change a tire, hide Christmas gifts or transport a body, trunks are invaluable. But I don’t understand the connection between trunks and Halloween. Why is trunk-or-treating a thing?

In the U.S., trick-or-treating started after WWII when children went door to door begging for food on Thanksgiving (not joking). Then they continued begging through Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and so on—so I guess someone decided to create a national begging celebration on Halloween.

This mass candy solicitation certainly worked for me for many years. Part of the thrill of trick-or-treating was leaving the familiar neighborhoods, searching for the families handing out full-size Butterfingers. We’d come home with pillowcases full of candy, after walking miles and miles through Murray, Utah.

Now, in our heavily-sanitized society, parents want to make sure their kids won’t be handed anything with sugar, soy, peanuts or gluten, or have to interact with neighbors they’ve never met—so trunk-or-treating was introduced.

I know some churches feel trunk-or-treating (Halloween tailgating) is a way to watch over kids while keeping demonic costumes to a minimum. In fact, kids are often encouraged to dress as bible characters.

(Side note: If I was forced to dress as a woman from the bible, I’d be Jael and I’d carry Sisera’s head with a nail shoved through his temple. But that’s just me. The Book of Revelations also has some pretty messed-up oddities. My daughters could easily have passed for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on any given day.)

blurred-background-bokeh-celebration-1426705Anyway. Part of growing up is being terrified all the time. Kids have so little control over their lives and, unfortunately, they learn early on that life can be scary and unpredictable.

As kids on Halloween, we got super scared, but we also knew that, deep down, we truly were safe. Visiting haunted houses made us feel brave. In our minds, going from house to house, asking strangers for candy, was akin to walking down a dark alley in New York City.

There was always one house on the block you were afraid to visit because it had strobe lights, shrieking screams, ghoulish laughter when you rang the bell and an unidentifiable zombie handing out treats with his bloody hands.

Even scarier was the house where the neighborhood witch resided. Lights turned off. No jack o’ lantern. You knew she was sitting in the dark, staring out her window, ready to cast spells on children who came to her door.

Additionally, my mom had me paranoid about eating any unwrapped candy, convinced my friend’s mom had dipped the open jawbreaker in bleach several times before handing it to me.

But really? How many people did you know that found a razor blade in their apple or received temporary tattoos laced with acid?

On November 1, when we woke up with piles of candy, stomach aches and Halloween make-up smeared on our pillows, we also felt we had survived something frightening—and imagined ourselves a little bit braver as we faced our lives.

But trunk-or-treating is not remotely scary, unless your trunk is part of a 1950s Cadillac hearse, complete with creaky coffin and a driver named Lurch. Maybe instead of meeting in church parking lots, we can stay in our homes and hand out candy as kids go door-to-door. I think that idea might just catch on.

Originally published in The Davis Clipper–Oct. 2015


Just Smile: An R-Rated Rant


Men. Reading this blog could save you from being murdered to death by your spouse, sister, mother or female co-worker. If at any point in your life you walked by a woman, noticed her expression and told her to smile, you are in extreme danger. I’m not shitting you. Your coffee is probably being poisoned while you read this.

One of the most irritatingly condescending things you can say to a woman is, “You look so serious. You should smile more.”

Fuck. You.

When I’m at work, I’m focusing my attention on my job. I’m not worried that my expression might not be pleasant. I’m doing my. fucking. job. Do you smile when you’re staring at your computer screen or reading a 50-page legal document? Of course not, because that’s fucking ridiculous.

Women have laughed these comments off for a long time, making jokes about Bitchy Resting Face and such, but guess what, guys? Men have Bitchy Resting Face all the time but nobody calls them on it–because women don’t give a shit. We figure you’re working and we would NEVER DREAM of suggesting you smile.

If I’m staring vacuously at my computer with a smile on my face, that would be bad. If I’m giggling stupidly for no apparent reason, I’ve lost my marbles.

I would bet you $1 million you’ve never walked by a male co-worker, saw him focused on his work and felt the need to tell him to “Just smile.”

Even Carly Fiorina, a candidate for the position of president of the United States, was told to smile more during the debate. Fuck that. Did anyone comment that Ben Carson or Marco Rubio took running for national office too seriously? Fuck no.

I’m 100 percent certain no one walked by Einstein as he was working on his little Theory of Relativity and said, “Hey, Al. You look so serious. Lighten up.” Gandhi, John Kennedy, Martin Luther; no one told them to look happy, smile more or stop looking so stern.

I’m aware that when I’m focused I don’t have a smile on my face. If I’m concentrating on a particularly hard piano piece, trying to figure out how to put a fucking IKEA dresser together, even writing a HUMOR blog, my expression is not happy. It doesn’t mean I’m NOT happy, it just means I’m, what’s the word? Thinking!!!

If you’re reading this and have been offended, that was not my intention. I’m just letting you know what EVERY female in the ENTIRE WORLD is thinking when you say, “Just smile.”

So, lighten up, guys. Put a smile on that face.