You click on a link. With trepidation. Hesitation. Perspiration.

Maybe the link was on Facebook. Maybe the aftermath of a google search. Is the content propaganda from Russian bots? Another story from some website named realpatriots.com or something? No, not this time, friend. You’ve arrived at the website of a young man. Samuel Jaye Tanner. The word spooky appears. The image of a black cat. A terrifying cat.

Did I say terrifying cat?


Egads. Talk about a Halloween miracle. Talk about spooky.

Are you afraid yet?


My grandmother was a strange lady. Very artistic. And eccentric. Sarcastic, too. She had a great sense of humor. One of my earliest memories of her comes from Halloween. I must have been four or five. I remember walking through the living room. Past the entranceway of our old house in St. Paul. Grandma emerged from the coat closet. She was dressed in a black cloak and her face was painted white.

I nearly had a heart attack. Talk about spooky.

Grandma laughed until I laughed too. If I ever seem like a lunatic, and I often seem like a lunatic, my grandmother deserves some of the credit.

I wish grandma hadn’t drank herself to death. It would’ve been cool for my boys to meet her.

About my boys. They participated in Halloween this fall. I don’t think Halloween is anything other than an innocent, innocuous American holiday. Don’t get me wrong. There’s all sorts of terrifying, demonic activity going around these days. Just check twitter. But Halloween doesn’t give me much concern.

Solomon dressed like Luigi. Terrifying.


Egad. Talk about the Mushroom Kingdom. Talk about Spooky.

Samson’s costume was a little more erudite. His favorite toy is a purple car. His Purple Melvin. Purple Melvin is a car who shows up in the credits of the first Cars movie. Melvin is no Jackson Storm or Lightning McQueen. But he’s purple. And Samson loves purple. So Katie made Samson a Purple Melvin costume.

They boys wore their costumes to school. Katie and I watched Solomon’s parade. Trick-or-Treating was moved to Saturday because of a storm. So we’ll go tonight. I get nostalgic about Trick-or-Treating. I remember walking around Highland Park with Dad, Mom, and my sister. I distinctly remember a house that served hot apple cider on a cool, fall evening. That’s a distant childhood memory I like.

I like that memory of my grandmother, too.

Another thing about Grandma. When I spent the night at her house, she used to turn off the lights, fire up some candles, and put on old Alfred Hitchcock records. It was terrifying.

It’s no wonder I’m a strange dude.


Some years back, when I was still a humble high school teacher, I made a joke about celebrating Halloween.

“I know how you kids like your Halloween,” I told a room full of juniors in a comp class. “So get ready to be scared. Like, really scared.”

I paused and stared at the class. My eyes were wide. Trepidation. Hesitation. Perspiration.

I clicked advance on a powerpoint about the five-paragraph essay. An image of smiling pumpkin appeared on the screen.

“Egad!” I howled with sarcasm. “Talk about spooky!”

The students laughed. I always like making students laugh. People too. It’s harder to make people laugh through writing, I think. Unless you’re David Sedaris. I’m not David Sedaris.


“This is the prettiest it’s been since we moved here,” Katie told me last weekend.

We were driving through the mountains. On our way to a new Farm to Table restaurant. Our family friend Donna, she’s more like family now than anything else, was visiting. She stayed for a week. The boys adore her.

So Katie and I had the rare chance to go to dinner together. Donna watched the boys.

The food on our table came from the farm. We sat in a renovated barn. Views of rolling hills. The mountains were golden. Fall in Pennsylvania is always pretty. But this year may have been the prettiest.

There’s certainly things to be afraid of. But the end of October is more magical than anything else.

So forgive me if I terrified you with my antics here. I felt like being spooky.


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