Devil's Night -- Who Needs It???

by John Hughes (aka "The Guy Who Did Home Alone")

Originally published in National Lampoon, October 1980

As a homeowner, I certainly don't.  I have windows with screens that
might be waxed and spray-painted and slit.  I leave my car out.  My
garbage cans are always filled to the brim and my children require
separate jack o'lanterns, which means twice the the mess to hose off the
driveway in the morning.  No, I don't think society needs Halloween
vandalism.  We need youth clubs and riot police.  We need stun guns and
great big four-wheel-drive Jeep paddy wagons to cruise the streets for
kids with suspicious-looking kit bags containing paint cans, pliers, tin
snips, road flares, eggs, rocks, kitchen matches, fire works, lighter
fluid, tampons, parafin,sugar, and rotting fish in sandwich bags.

I participated in this sort of when I was a kid, but back then it was
good old-fashioned fun and no one I ever went soaping windows with ever
humiliated a front yard with a giant economy pack of White Cloud.  We
scared the heck out of widows with our rubber masks and big plastic
teeth, but they knew it was Halloween and I'd be willing to bet my
paycheck that not more than one of them ever required medical attention
as a result of my shenanigans.  That's a good word, shenanigans, because
that's what is was.  Today, kids aren't interested in shenanigans.
Shenanigans aren't any fun.  Ringing doorbells is shenanigans.  Pouring
Mountain Dew in my gas tank is pyschosickness.

Where does one draw the line?  Was my slingshotting dog nuggets at
fellow trick or treaters different from kids tearing up my automatic
sprinkler system and hauling it out in the road?  Was my heaving a
condom filled with egg yolk at a passing car different from today's
young men hurling burning road flares onto my garage roof?  You bet, and
for the simple reason that in 1980, the shoes' on the other foot.

I got chased around by plenty of angry old grouches, and if I knew their
phone numbers, I'd call them up and apologize for running the garden
hose through their mail chutes.  And just as I risked having to work
weekends to earn money to pay for sidewalks that I poured enamel paint
on, the youth of today will have to risk coming out of the record store
to see a 1979 silver Chevy Caprice with a Reagan bumper sticker driving
over several thousand dollars' worth of imported racing bikes.

The Homemade Dummy

1960:  I made a dummy by sewing together an old pair of blue jeans, a
long-sleeved flannel shirt, and beat-up tennis shoes.  Then I stuffed
the thing with crumpled-up newspaper and heaved it out of the bathroom
window on the second story of our house, yelling, "Suicide!"  The
perfect prank, until the fire department arrived to treat the elderly
man a cross the street.

1961:  I stole a bike with training wheels from the people across the
street and attached the dummy to the seat with nails and glue.  I taped
the arms to the handlebars with friction tape and wired the legs to the
pedals.  Then I whipped the bike down the driveway and right in front of
a passing car.  Hilarious, until a cop dragged me out of the clump of
dew bushes I was watching from and gave me a Dutch rub and a kick in the

1962:  I laid the dummy with a pumpkin head in the gutter and when a car
came around the corner I screamed, "Look out!"  The driver was unable to
stop until she had run over the pumpkin, which made a horrible crunchy
sound.  Great fun, except for having to face my dad in his bathrobe at
the police station and having to explain to him that lots of guys' dads
have to go to police stations in their pajamas.

1963:  I laid the dummy on a porch and stuck one of my mom's steak
knives in its back and doused it catsup.  I rang the doorbell and dove
into the bushes.  After the woman stopped shrieking, I moaned in my
"Shock Theater" voice, "You're next!"  And it was just a riot, till when
the Detroit police went to my dad's office and arrested him after
analyzing the dummy at the crime lab and tracing the laundry marks in
the old shirt to him.

Memories Of Baby-Sitters

Except maybe for golf courses, there wasn't any thing more fun for me
than a baby-sitter.  She'd be all alone in a big strange house with
young children, and she knew she was just about completely helpless. On
Halloween, most baby-sitters were nervous wrecks. There was I nothing
but scary stuff on TV, the doorbell was ringing constantly and her years
at summer camp taught her that most mental patients escape right around
Halloween.  My favorite victims were my sister's high school girl
friends.  Not only were they gullible, but they screamed louder than
cats afire.  I recall a particularly successful assault on Halloween,

8:15 PM:  I called Karen at the Rivards' and, disguising my voice, told
her that I was an insane lunatic with metal feet and a deadly saw I
stole from a carpenter I killed and I was going to kill here before the
night was done.

8:30 PM:  I crushed a pair of Vernor's ginger-ale cans and tied them to
my feet with my shoelaces and clomped around on the Rivards' porch and
moaned, "I want blood!"

8:35 PM:  I dropped a handsaw I stole from our neighbor's garage through
the Rivards' mail slot and taped the doorbell down.

8:40 PM:  I rushed home and ran upstairs and called the Rivards' and
told Karen, in my most adult voice, that was the cops and that we'd
gotten a report that the lunatic with the metal feet was in the basement
of the house and was on his way up to kill her and that she should run
out on the lawn and take off her blouse so we, the police, would know it
was her and not the lunatic's insane girl-friend accomplice.

8:42 PM:  I dashed out of our house and down to the Rivards', where
Karen was standing in the front yard struggling with her blouse buttons
and screaming at the top of her lungs. I whipped an egg at her, which
caught her in the shoulder, and I took off.

3 :30 PM the following day: Karen's boyfriend, Chet, wrote the word
"Asswipe" on my forehead with a permanent-ink laundry marker and tore
the light off my bike.

Fun On The Hall Phone

After I had gotten home from a long evening of Halloween hooliganism,
I'd fix myself some thing good to eat and sit down at the telephone
table in the downstairs hallway.  First thing I would do was dial the
operator and tell her that a phone line was down in my backyard and was
spraying dangerous electrical sparks all over.  Then I'd call up
information and ask for the number of a Mr. Harry Dick.  Then I'd call
up our local youth trouble line and ask where I could get a whore.  I
would then unscrew the mouthpiece on the phone and dial a number at
random.  When someone answered I'd tell them that I was with the
coroner's office and that there had been a death. When the other party
asked who had died, I would jiggle the mouthpiece so that it crackled
and I'd say, "Hello? Hello?  I can't hear you!  Hello?"  Then I'd hang
up and order a dozen pizzas and half a dozen Italian beef sandwiches for
the "A's" in the phone book.  After that, I'd ring up the fire
department and tell them that I couldn't wake my parents and that the
house smelled funny and that I felt like throwing up.  Then I'd gag and
hang up.  If I wasn't ready for bed after all that, I'd call up a girl
in my class, and if her dad answered, I'd tell him that she left her
underpants in my garage.  If I was still in the mood for fun, I'd call
our minister and cut the cheese.  Finally, I would look in our newspaper
obituaries and get the name of someone in town who'd died and then look
up his phone number.  I'd place a collect call to his house, saying I
was him.  Then I'd leave a big booger on the mouthpiece of the phone and
go to bed. If, however, I was sleeping over at friend's house, I'd dial
long-distance weather and leave the phone off the hook all night.

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