Usually when I walk past the neighborhood Household That Takes Halloween Way Too Seriously (see above), Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “The Monster Mash” starts playing in my head.
However on a recent stroll, a different (and in my opinion even better) seasonal song kicked in: Jumpin’ Gene Simmons’s version of “Haunted House.” (I should add, sadly: the late Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, not to be confused with the other, still-living and much more annoying Gene Simmons who, I daresay, never recorded anything nearly as wonderful.)
You can listen to the song and watch a delightful animated accompaniment (apparently created by a Czech fan) here:
Watching the video, I noticed for the first time that the song includes the line, “Ain’t no haint gonna run me off.”
I was unfamiliar with the word “haint” and– as a big fan of regional variations in American English– I was delighted to that it is a Southern term referring to a ghost or supernatural phenomenon.
Another regional variation is the term “Beggars Night” for what I grew up calling “Trick or Treat Night”– when costumed children go from house to house to ask for candy, with the implied threat of mischief.
In my favorite comic strip “Agnes,” the title character and her friend Trout call it Beggars Night.
In this strip from a few years ago, they encountered a sadly contemporary problem with their choice of costumes. And that was before many of us had even heard of Pamela Geller.
As it happens, one of the places where that term is favored is Ohio, where the strip’s artist, Tony Cochran lives. I discovered this when I was unable to find an out-of-print book of “Agnes” cartoons through regular sources, and emailed him. It turned out he had some extra copies, and offered to sell me one. And he was kind enough to inscribe it to me personally, along with a sketch of Agnes:
So once again, Happy Halloween. And once again, Hugo: Boo!