Trick or Treating Is Not Like in the Movies, and I Mean That in the Very Best Way

IMG_7306As I mentioned in my Happy Halloween post, the holidays you miss most when living overseas are the ones that don’t even exist in the place where you’re living. Italians, after sufficient exposure to American scary movies, have recently adopted Halloween, but there is no door-to-door trick or treating and children certainly don’t put on costumes. If anything, adults use it as an excuse for a rather silly night out and nightclub owners use it as a way to get more people in the door for a theme night.

I was therefore really looking forward to seeing what the kids in my neighborhood (or their parents, in the case of the youngest ones) would put together.

Your faithful writer at age 3. I thank  J. M. Barrie for the idea and my wonderful mom for making such a brilliant costume with hardly any advance notice (three-year-olds are notoriously fickle) and on shoestring budget.

Your faithful writer at age 3. I thank J. M. Barrie for the idea and my wonderful mom for making such a brilliant costume with hardly any advance notice (three-year-olds are notoriously fickle) and on a shoestring budget.

I, for example, on the first Halloween when I was old enough to choose my costume, opted to be the crocodile that ate Captain Hook’s hand. Go figure. My mom did a brilliant job of putting that costume together from scratch. She always did.
This year my pseudo-pirate costume got a few compliments from the kids, but they were mostly interested in the candy basket. (I know, I know. From crocodile to pirate. Analyze that.)

Jack-o'lantern, check. Candy basket, check. Now all we need are the trick-or-treaters.

Jack-o’lantern, check. Candy basket, check. Now all we need are the trick-or-treaters.

So, I may have had a sword and everything, but the peanut butter M&Ms were the big hit of the night, along with the little bags of candy corn my mom had made up after dinner the night before. She knew the kids would start arriving as soon as darkness fell (cue spooky music) and so she left me in charge of getting the Halloween meet and greet rolling.

Here are some of my favorite moments of the evening…

Darth Vader was one of the very first to ring my bell, before dusk had even properly fallen. He knows that the early Sith Lord gets  first pick of the Halloween spoils. Actually, this kid was out with his friends and their parents collecting donations of canned food for a local charity. Well, we all knew he came back from the Dark Side in the end.

Darth Vader was one of the very first to ring my bell, before dusk had even properly fallen. He knows that the early Sith Lord gets first pick of the Halloween spoils. Actually, this kid was out with his friends and their parents collecting donations of canned food for a local charity. Well, we all know he came back from the Dark Side in the end.

When asked, the introduced themselves as, "the Three Musketeers and a homeless guy"... or wait, could it be that d'Artagnan has fallen on harder times than we knew? I hope the chocolate helped.

When asked, they introduced themselves as, “the Three Musketeers and a homeless guy”… or wait, could it be that d’Artagnan has fallen on harder times than we knew? I hope the chocolate helped.

This little blue monster was more interested in the jack-o'-lantern than the candy. This little blue monster was more interested in the jack-o’-lantern than the candy.

A motley assortment of heroes, superheroes and anti-heroes.

A motley assortment of heroes, superheroes and anti-heroes.

My favorite of the evening. It doesn't get much more American than bacon and eggs. These brothers get kudos for originality.

My favorite of the evening. It doesn’t get much more American than bacon and eggs. These brothers get kudos for originality.

Uh-oh, running low.

Uh-oh, running low. Good thing Darth and company are heading home for dinner soon.

I think she was probably texting...

I think she was probably texting…

"Is anybody watching or should I make a play for the chocolate?"

“Is anybody watching or should I make a play for the chocolate?”

All in all, the trick-or-treating experience definitely lived up to my expat returned expectations, and better still, there were no tricks, only treats. I guess I may have seen too many of those scary American movies myself.

Pirate me, sword and all.

Pirate me, sword and all.

Until next time, ciao and thanks for reading!

Jennifer

Face-off

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Hirsute history!

Have you ever seen pictures of the truly original, often luxuriant, occasionally ridiculous but always flamboyant beards that many men sported during the American Civil War? It was one thing North and South had in common, and I never thought I’d be able to see such monuments of facial hair in real life, not without a time machine. Well, I had a chance on August 10th, but I missed it. I really, really, really hope they do it again next year. I sincerely believe that something this silly could probably only happen in America (ok, I guess maybe in England; they invented Monty Python after all). The Love For the Beard – North vs South Beard and Moustache Competition was held for the first time this year, and all the proceeds went to charity. Bravo, Beardimus Maximus!

I get corny over Halloween

Alright, I know. I kind of went over the top. It’s a Halloween overdose. And there’s still over a month to go before October 31st. But after all those years in a country where Halloween doesn’t even exist, well, I had to do it. Plus, they were on sale at 2/$4 at the grocery store… What can I say? Halloween makes me (candy) corny.  Oh, agh. Still, wearing socks like that, I can be as lame as I want whenever I want.

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Antique Tables?

Coming down off of Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Coming down off of Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains,
just outside the Thornton Gap entrance to Shenandoah National Park, heading east

Want a brand-new antique table of your very own? Apparently, that’s not an oxymoron. If you’re interested, you can visit their website.

One thing that has always struck me about American advertising and, in this case, the choice of a company name, is the fact that it relies so heavily on tickling the customer’s sense of humor.  Years in Italy, including 3 years of Italian commercial arts school, accustomed me to the idea that an advertisement has to be beautiful, sexy, aesthetically perfect… but hardly ever funny.  Of course, Antonio Banderas wearing his most seductive Zorro face to sell breakfast cookies might be unintentionally funny (I think the mothers were the target of that commercial), but in the U.S., humor is usually the main marketing device of ads and commercials that are meant to be memorable because they made you laugh. Some are ludicrous, some are wacky, some indulge in darker humor and some appeal to the more childish side of our funny-bone, but even the bad ones stick more in my mind, at least, than the up-teenth lingerie-clad beauty selling the latest sports car or heart-throb pushing coffee (here’s lookin’ at you, George Clooney).

Anyway, this collection will be the first of a collection where you’ll find some of the  business and advertising ploys in the comic vein that have caught my eye.

Sorry Mom

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Fredericksburg, VA – Estimated population in 2012: just over 27,300. Number of tattoo studios I saw during my visit: 4 in the downtown alone, and there are more listed in the phone book. I’m not sure why a town this small needs quite so many, although the percentage of locals with tattoos not just adorning them but covering entire limbs was higher than in most places I’ve been, so I guess they don’t want for work. I haven’t read any reviews about their quality, but come on, admit it – if we’re judging by names, this one’s gotta be the best, anywhere, hands down.