You know Halloween is coming each year when the grocery stores shove aside hoary old summer merchandise in late August to make room for the jumbo bags of chocolate and pumpkin pails. Next, a Spirit Halloween store shows up in town, taking over an abandoned K-Mart.
This year, a tent popped up—or perhaps landed like a space ship. A HALLOWEEN TENT? This never happened before.
“Like the kind of tents they set up that sell fireworks in July,” the girlfriend tried to explain, having seen the tent on her commute home from work. “And there’s signs everywhere. The signs say Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!”
Sweet Jesus. We needed to get over there. We planned it for today, Saturday. The Halloween tent was located in Annapolis, about fifteen minutes from where we live. I grabbed the camera and we jumped in the car. And nothing could stop us. Not even the nightmarish traffic that congested the highway as we drove there. Stop and go. Stop and go. And brake. And brake. And.
“Do you think we should turn back and try another day?” I asked.
“This is the last exit for a while. Should we?” she asked.
Gravely, we inched toward the dividing line of the last exit and highway. I bit my lip. But I decided we should keep going. After all, it would start moving faster up here. For sure. For definitely.
An hour later, we approached Annapolis, as the traffic finally began to break up. I had lost my will to live in the previous hour of ungodly traffic, but then I saw the first sign. The signs started on the highway before the exit ramp. And they were everywhere, as promised. Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!
We pulled off the ramp where there were more of the orange signs sprinkled along the entire bend, three feet apart. Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! By the bottom of the ramp, I was positively worked up in a frenzy.
One thing I’ve learned is, if there’s a sign on the highway imploring you to pull off at the next exit, in the end, the actual place will never live up to the initial excitement the sign sparked. Example: WORLD’S LARGEST CIGAR EMPORIUM? NOT THAT FUN, AND WE DON’T SMOKE, ANYWAY. Sad. BOB’S BIG BOY NEXT RIGHT? GAVE ME FOOD POISONING. Sad.
But past experience didn’t haunt me. In the distance, the tent looked glorious. Miraculous. A holy ghost revival. And there was a person in a Scooby Doo costume doing the Kid N Play dance on the side of the road. Honestly, if that tent was filled with only baby puke and dead baby piglets, I would have not have cared.
For crying out loud, they had a dancing Scooby Doo:
We crossed under the light and began to circle the tent. My anticipation grew. Halloween! Oh my god, what could be in that tent?
We parked in the spooky gravel lot. When we reached the entrance of the tent, I was disappointed to see the No Pictures signs all over the place. It ain’t like this thing is the inside of a Disney World attraction.
Not to worry, readers: I stealthily snapped a couple contraband pictures at pocket level. The blurriness is the result of the pictures being taking as I casually walked without stopping. The girlfriend pretended not to know me.
Inside, it was just regular old overpriced Halloween stuff, fifty dollar monkey costumes and pseudo movie-quality makeup kits. There were some cool decorations, but the same kind of stuff you’d find at party stores and Spirits. It also bummed me out that the tent was blasting Justin Bieber and Kesha instead of Halloween music. Come on, man.
In the end, I didn’t even buy anything. I chalked this one up next to the Cigar Emporium and Bob’s Big Boy: I’ll always have those moments out on the highway, the window rolled down, the wind in the hair. Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.