Halloween Around the House

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The nights come sooner, and the air is thick with ash and hurricane rain. Leaves redden and tumble. Summer salads give way to roasted roots. Horror films raise your pulse to a near-fatal rate, because you haven’t exercised for months. The sky is orange. The moon is the same color as the sun. All of which can only mean one thing—it’s fall, and Halloween is nigh!

Yes, we must ready ourselves to celebrate the turning of the seasons. But these are dark and isolating times. There will be no passing of candy from strangers to children as their parents look on, no ironic yet sexy costumes, no bowls of spaghetti brains and peeled-grape eyeballs, no masks other than all the regular masks. That doesn’t mean we can’t still have a little fun! Here are some tips for dressing up and decorating your home this especially scary Halloween.

MUMMY COSTUMES! For a moment in time, all the toilet paper was gone. You checked five stores repeatedly for two weeks and eventually came to find paper plates an acceptable substitute, or you ordered bamboo toilet paper from Sweden, or, if you were a very lucky monster, ripped some rolls out of a terrified older person’s hands. Whatever the means, you panicked, and now you possess a closet full of toilet paper, having vowed never to be caught unprepared again. Wrap yourself in toilet paper—now you’re a mummy!

SKELETONS! Take all the discarded toilet-paper rolls that you accumulated while making your mummy costume and run them through with dental floss until they’re stacked like a limp strand of broken bones. You’ve got a leg! Do it again. That’s one more leg! Do it again, shorter; that’s an arm. Again! Another arm! Tie the limbs together and fan them out, like a fatigued skeleton lying prostrate, waiting for the final chapter of the apocalypse!

GHOST HATS! Hang all your hats around your bedroom. Hang a hat on a golf club! Hang a hat on a bookshelf! Hang a hat on a hat stand! On a doorknob! On a reading lamp! On the corner of a mirror! Watch the news and go to bed, then wake up multiple times in the night, terrified that someone’s in your room!

SPIDERS! Shake all of your party shoes out onto the ground. You haven’t worn them in months, and now they’re full of spooky, spooky spiders!

FIGURE AT THE WINDOW! As you contemplate a shower, drape a towel over your head and stand at your window, not moving or blinking, just staring mournfully ahead. Wait for passersby to look up. “Are y-y-y-you seeing that, too?!” they’ll scream to a friend. They’ll be talking about you, but they’ll think you’re a ghost, and they’ll be a little bit right—BOO!

JACK-O’-LANTERNS! Some traditions never go out of style. Put a pumpkin in your Instacart and, when it arrives, don’t forget to tip the anxious former graduate student or father of three who brought it to you in under an hour. Carve a screaming, beady-eyed orange face. Sit at your kitchen table and stare at it in fury until night falls.

GHOST CAT! Throw a white sheet over your cat, so that it looks like a small, long ghost. Laugh and laugh with harmless pleasure at its innocent confusion. If you don’t have a cat, scroll through cat-adoption sites at 2 A.M. while trying, unsuccessfully, to fall asleep.

CACKLING WITCH! Nothing’s scarier than the unexpected cackling of a witch, shocking you out of your complacent routine with her frenzied mania. So throw on some pants and go yell at joggers to put their masks on! As they break stride only long enough to roll their eyes at you, toss your head back and laugh and laugh into your own, smelly mask.

VOTE! Celebrate this holiday as its creators intended—with heartfelt human terror of the unknown! Then light a candle and vote. Cast a spell that next year will be better, haunted only by the dread spirit of 2020.

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