A Haunted Hometown Halloween

One Halloween night, in 1979, I was allowed to venture on foot, in costume, and not accompanied by adults. I was 10.

The Martin Prosperity Institute released what it called its third “annual survey” of Halloween in America back in 2013. The Institute did not produce a fourth or any subsequent sequel to this seminal study of all things creepy, ghostly, and scary, and in 2019, the MPI itself closed up shop altogether. Perhaps it accomplished its mission when everyone named Martin was discovered to be prosperous. Or in an institute.

On reflection, it is likely that my hometown broke the Martin Prosperity Institute, which I will explain.

The Institute’s 2013 in-depth look at the field of Halloween enjoyment, a study not undertaken by most people older than eight, led to many national news articles that expressed shock at its conclusion, which was this: the best place to enjoy Halloween in the United States of America is Poughkeepsie, New York.

If this was true in 2013, it may very well be true tonight, Halloween 2022.
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Pandemic Diary 5: Where’s the Candy?

Quarantine life has neither improved nor ruined my food life. I seem to consume the same amount each day in calories (not enough on the best of days) and the quality is pretty much identical to what is was pre-quarantine (not that great, because I am single).

The one big difference I have seen came when I discovered that my most recent favorite seasonal candy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs—which are a peanut butter cup but in a flattened Easter egg shape that somehow changes the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter from what one expects in a peanut butter cup to perfect—is now everyone’s favorite seasonal candy and not my secret favorite thing. They vanished from the local grocery store shelves at least two weeks before Easter. The eggs are usually to be found available in a bulk discount pile of bags of twenty each near the front of the store the day after Easter; last week these precious gems were available for a dollar per egg at my grocery store and the store did not have ten of them to make a “Ten for $10” purchase.
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Zing! Went the Strings of My Wallet

How can something so sweeeeeet be artificial? It’s real to me …

* * * *
“But what is it?” my friend asked.

I repeated what I had just said: “It’s a Starbucks ‘Caramel Apple Spice.'” (I think I even said “Starbucks,” even though we were at that moment sitting in a Starbucks and we certainly knew where we were, because it is impossible to mistake a Starbucks for any other anything. But sometimes when I open my mouth, an advertisement flies out.)

“Yes, but caramel apple spice what? Coffee? Tea? Soup?”

I did not have an answer. What is it indeed? “I don’t think it’s coffee.” I fell back on the charm of insane repetition, something I have not perfected over the years: “Its a Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice,” and I used my eyebrows to tell my friend that she wanted her own cup of one, too. (Picture Groucho Marx.)
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