It's Halloween so all over the country kids will soon be hitting the streets dressed as ghouls, zombies, vampires and Donald Trumps. Later on happy adults will hit the town dressed as sexy nurses, sexy Harley Quinns and sexy Colin Craigs. It's heart-warming stuff. A sugary, satanic, festival of begging.
Every year more Kiwis embrace Halloween but while we understand the "treat" part, many of us don't get the "trick" bit. Should we seek revenge if we don't get enough sweeties? If so, how far should we go? Obviously we're not going to burn down houses or smash car windows or send disgusting things in the mail like a disgruntled Ponsonby real estate agent. No. Tricks should be low key and fun. TP trees, knock on back doors and run, dress up as creepy clowns and peer through bedroom windows. That kind of thing.
Like tens of thousands of other New Zealanders I fell in love with Halloween thanks to ET. Elliot dressed as a zombie, big brother Michael as a terrorist and ET under a ghost sheet. The three of them out on the street with hundreds of other costumed kids. Back then Kiwis could only dream of outfits as awesome as the "Yoda" that tricks ET into thinking he has seen another real alien. Nowadays you can get whatever costume you want for next to nothing.
Back in the day, inspired by ET, my mate Mark and I mummified ourselves in toilet paper and grabbed two empty supermarket bags to be filled with lollies.
We hit the streets of Dunedin. A couple of happy little 8-year-olds out for tricks or treats. Little did we know our first Halloween would take a horrifying turn.
The first door we knocked on belonged to Mark's 70-year-old war veteran next-door neighbour, Mr Graham. "Trick or Treat," we chirped. Unfortunately he had never heard of Halloween and become instantly furious: "So you kids are saying you will play a trick on me if I don't give you lollies?". "Yep". "So you're threatening me on my own property?" "Um no, not really." He grabbed us into his hallway and slammed the door. Instead of getting sugary treats, we were trapped and in for a long aggressive berating. "Get a bloody job if you want lollies ... I didn't fight a war so you kids could walk around the streets begging."
He was big, mean and scary. I started crying, my toilet paper costume breaking up from the wet tears. I'm pretty sure Mark wet his pants. But Mr Graham kept going. "You think it's funny to dress up as a dead person to scare me, well I can be pretty scary too."
I saw a gap and rushed through his house and out the back door. Mark followed. Mr Graham chased, cursing, maybe even throwing apples. If so they missed as we smashed through the holly hedge back to Mark's place.
Shaken, scratched up and angry we sat in Mark's room and plotted a "trick" to get back at Mr Graham's lack of "treat". And what a clever piece of revenge we came up with.
We returned and wrote "MR PENIS LIVES HERE" in huge green chalk letters on the pavement in front of his house. An arrow pointing to his door.
Unfortunately Mr Graham was watching through the window, rang Mark's parents and demanded corporal punishment. They obliged. Mark's butt got smacked and I got sent home. Sleepover cancelled. Halloween ruined.
Luckily, these days most people understand what's going on. In our neighbourhood dozens of houses embrace the day. Signifying their involvement with Jack-o'-lanterns, spiders' webs, zombie hands, coffins and blood. They buy treats and wait around for hours to hand them out.
Good people going to a lot of trouble just to make complete strangers happy. Halloween is thriving in 2016, largely due to ET repeats, cheap costumes, generous people and the work of pioneers like me and my buddy Mark.
Even old Mr Graham is getting into the spirit of things. This year I am happy to say he's spending Halloween as a real skeleton, buried 6ft under the ground in a real cemetery somewhere in Dunedin.
Happy Halloween Mr Graham. Happy Halloween everyone.