I know, it’s still summer, but I’m generally obsessed by Halloween. The hours drag, but the months fly–October will be here before you know it. We once again have the opportunity to be someone/something else for a while, and get candy for doing it.
The Chalk Outline (TCO) is my personal best, the winner in a field of real doozies. Gearing-up as Curtis Sliwa, the highly opinionated founder of the Guardian Angels, is a close second. I had the beret, the shirt, and an attitude for safety. That Halloween I went to a house party with some friends. We had a great time until some d-bag, dressed as a Priest, decided to hit on my date, an appropriately provocative Elvira. Can’t blame him. Can’t blame me either, enter: The Guardian Angel.
Curtis and the Priest tousle, the standard grasp, shove, shrug-it-off. Expletives fly, pumpkins tossed. Evidently Curtis is viewed as the aggressor and gets kicked out of the party.
Elvira–who’s now my wife–wondered what the heck was going on. I explained that I was in character. I thumb toward the front porch, “That back there? That’s called Sliwa-style!” I dip the edge of my bad-ass red beret and move toward the car.
“You’re ridiculous!” My wife still exclaims this, at least once a week.
But what about that Chalk Outline? Sure, it’s morose, but to me, that’s the essence of Halloween. The idea came to me while passing a brutal roadside scene, a post-action area cordoned off by the blazing yellow and black: POLICE LINE–DO NOT CROSS.
The scene, and its numerous fire and safety personnel, made me wonder what went down. Whatever happened was pretty heavy. Our view obscured, I fill in the details, most of which revolve around a body, chalk-outlined.
October loomed, and the incident required no further thought, save for one thing: how to pull it off. Black sweat pants and hoodie? That would be comfortable, but ultimately show a lack of commitment (read: lame). I resolve to blow a decent amount of cash on a Carhartt Extreme Arctic one piece suit, with hood. The hood is key–I need to outline my deceased head. I use my brother’s old Civil Air Patrol (CAP) boots, adding a gritty Michael Myers appeal. One last detail: how to outline? Duh. I go for veracity–actual chalk. I get some chalk from a local Becker’s teacher store and that’s it. Simple. Dramatic. Instantly recognizable.
All Hallow’s Eve. I suit up.
My girl, an aspiring teacher, who seems occupationally prepared, does the outlining duty. She deftly outlines the front and back of my Carhartt, mirrored reflections of expiration. I stuff a few stalks of chalk in one my 30 available pockets, in case I need to “freshen up.” This will prove key. Falling down dead–all the time, by request–has an erasure effect.
In the car, on our way to the party, we realize we need to gas up. I pulled a few beta-stunts at the apartment, so I’m primed to drop dead at Exxon. It’s dark out, but the station is well-lit. Our car consumes fuel, Monster Mash plays on the radio. I lurch from the vehicle. BOOM. DONE. RIGHT THERE. I’m a Chalk Outline.
My cheek is flush with the concrete. I manage a crooked smile. This is so ridiculous! I then hear a few other Exxoners–they’re giggling. They get it, and I’m pleased. Now, on to the party.
We arrive. I can see inside, the Halloween party is in full swing. I don’t know anyone here. All the better. Even if someone did know me, it would impossible to tell considering the low lights and my sinister get-up. I’m the last of our crew to enter. I take a few steps into the foyer. BOOM.
A few seconds pass. I’m vulnerable now. Finally, a dark soul recognizes the event.
“He’s a chalk outline.” His delivery is slow, a schooled autopsist. Laughter breaks out. I estimate six people laughed out loud at the same time, although I can’t be sure. I was on the floor.
TCO was such a hit I broke it out the following year, with friends I know. Imagine having to fall down dead, by request, every time you enter a room. Too much. I never did TCO again, my body wouldn’t survive.
The Carhartt Extreme Arctic one piece is revived each winter, for use in snow removal. A bit of the chalk outline remains, but not much. If you see me, stop by. I’m sure to oblige in dying, if requested. It’s been too long since I’ve expired.