Buon Compleanno

Today is June 15, 2019. To me that means two things. 1. It’s about summer time (kiss my ass, school!) and 2. It’s my little cousin’s birthday. Well, he’s not so little anymore — he stands 6 feet tall and just turned 31. David, in a nutshell, has always sort of been the little brother I never had. Thus, this article is a tribute to my cousin, the little bro I never had. Cheers to you, David. And happy birthday, bro.


David and I grew up together. In the late ’80s, my uncle lived with me and the family. He married, his wife moved in and they had a baby in ’88. I remember June 15, 1988 pretty well, considering I was only four (and three quarters) at the time. It was a damp and blustery morning as I stood outside the garage door, watching my mom sweep the dry brown leaves off the driveway. And then my uncle’s car gently roared into the just swept driveway. My aunt clambered out and it was then that David and I first met. We bonded immediately, as though we were best friends in a past lifetime.



I’m so glad my uncle loved recording us as we grew up together in the late ’80s to early ’90s. It was thanks to my uncle’s penchant for documenting everything that I fondly recall all the wacky adventures David and I shared. One of my favorite memories was David’s love for sneaking out of his crib (with my aid of course) to brush his teeth for the hundredth time that same night. At two years old, he would reach out of the crib and beg for me to transport him to his very own version of Disney World. And with that patented jovial grin of his, how could I resist? He was such a delightful and cute little rascal.


No one loved brushing teeth more than David, and I loved to watch him do it. Never before had I seen such showmanship! After he brushed, 5 minutes later in his crib he’d tug on my shirt to take him back. So under the cover of darkness, I’d smuggle him off to the bathroom for another show. There’s a home video floating out there somewhere where you can see me shoving David — with all of my seven-year-old strength — up on to the sink. He bumped his head against the mirror really hard as he fought to stand up on his wobbly legs. Instead of crying, he amusingly stared back at his two-year-old reflection and, with a gleeful laughter, jubilantly pounded the mirror with his palm. He was a bundle of joy.



One of my favorite pastimes was playing backyard baseball against my brother. This moment was not captured on film by my uncle but damn do I remember it as though it happened yesterday. It was the summer of 1991. I was about 8, my brother was 10 and David was 3. Kevin was on the mound and he stared me down as I stood firmly in the batter’s box (AKA a patch of grass at one end of my backyard). Kevin went into his windup, lifted his leg and flung the tennis ball down broadway as hard as he could. I took a mighty cut and fouled the ball off into the thorn bushes. David was in the background fiddling around on his brand new Power Wheels. Like most brothers growing up, Kevin and I fought a shit ton as youngsters, physically and verbally. Instead of grabbing a stick and poking the tennis ball out of the thorn bush he screamed at me for hitting it there. Of course, as little brothers often do, I had to respond in kind. And my response was not kind! We were busy shoving and jostling. And in the middle of this commotion I felt a tap. Kevin and I turned around. We could not believe our eyes.


David, with a grin oddly plastered across his angelic little face, held out the tennis ball to us. As if it were an offering. We gasped in horror when we saw the sickening multitude of thorns that had pricked his tiny arm. But judging by his ear-to-ear grin, you’d never think the pain that had to be surging through his little arm bugged him at all. I remember kissing him on the forehead and patting him on the back. What a great kid. My brother and I immediately dropped our quarrel and we spent the rest of that afternoon playing with David in complete and blissful harmony. David does it again!

I'll never forget the sight of his pricked arm. Insanity!
I’ll never forget the sight of his pricked arm. Insanity!

Then in the spring of ’92 my aunt became pregnant, and my uncle decided the time was perfect to move out and buy a place of their own. My childhood dream of growing up in a big household — blame it on Full House I suppose — was suddenly dashed. And life, well, life would never be the same.



My cousin Vince, about 10 years my senior, was one of my idols growing up. I always looked up to Vince, and in many ways felt I should pass that down to David. I hoped to provide him with wonderful memories and experiences as he grew up — just like how Vince did for me all those years ago. So when David was around 10 in 1998, I suddenly had this knack for taking him on his first roller coaster ride. He told me he had never been on one due to his fear of heights and whatnot. But I assured him it was worth it… that it was sort of a childhood rite of passage. In the summer of ’98 it became my obsession to have him ride one. And finally, one scorching hot summer day, he finally said YES.


I couldn’t believe my ears, as though David was speaking to me in tongues. David was confronting his fear! He was about to embark on his first ever roller coaster adventure. Looking back on it, it may sound kind of silly but at the time it truly felt like a landmark moment in his life. I had this weird fantasy where riding a roller coaster would expand David’s world and help him to fully realize his potential. For as exuberant and daring a toddler he was, as a child he grew to be rather reserved. Deep down I always believed he still had that expressive and jubilant side in him, and I was determined to bring it out at any cost.

Finally, the moment of reckoning descended upon us. Proudly marching up to that towering steel structure that loomed before us, David was rearing to shock the system and give the man the proverbial old middle finger. But just as quickly, from out of nowhere, his grandmother (God rest her soul) swooped in, grabbed him by the wrist and yelled “ARE YOU CRAZY?! NO YOU’RE NOT GETTING ON THAT!”

Although it happened only a foot away from me, I remember feeling like it took place a chasm apart. I was completely helpless to stop it, and I saw the gleam of courage in David’s eyes instantly give way to fear. Physically, he seemed to shrink before me. And despite my urging him to still carry on, he sadly shook his head at me and could only say, “Sorry Steve, I can’t do it…”

I was crushed. So close, yet so far. It’s one of those memories and vivid scenes that stay with you for a lifetime. But as terrible as I felt, I could only imagine how defeated David must have felt. And for that, my heart absolutely sank.



Relinquishing the dream of the cold steel wonder that is the roller coaster, I looked to another form of cheap American thrill… the haunted house. Yet another childhood rite of passage, one of my fondest childhood memories was Halloween night of 1995. That was the night my cousins took me to my first real haunted house and I never looked back. The sights, the sounds, the smells, ahhh. I wanted David to have that experience for himself.

Michael Myers almost attacked me that night!
Michael Myers almost got me that night!

Similar to the roller coaster, David rejected my various invites. 1998 was a no go. But in 1999 he accepted. But first he wanted to trick or treat around the block. Fair enough, I thought to myself. So I took him and his sister trick or treating. David and his sister ran from house to house like thieves in the night. In a way they were! Free candy! Wearing masks! Why, in my day they didn’t hand out candy; oh heck no, rather, it was rationed paper clips! [Oh stop it -Ed.]

If only David saw those steps in the darkness...
If only David saw those steps in the darkness…

Near the end of that fateful evening, on one of the final houses on our tour, David didn’t make out the steps in the darkness and fell. I heard the sickening sound of bare knees scraping concrete. And that is a match concrete will always win. I took David and his sister home, and sadly he never left the house again that night. I was so disappointed. It was just like the roller coaster from the year prior. So close, yet so far. But there’s always next year, right?

But time was quickly running out. I was 12 when I went to the haunted house in ’95. There’s something to be said about going to a haunted house when you’re THAT young. When you’re easily impressed by halfway decent setups that replicated the horrors of a house. When you think about it, 12 is really the last year of childhood, is it not? Well, in 2000, David was 12. This was the year. The last year. It was now or never. Do or die.


October 31, 2000. David and I finally went to that haunted house. I was glad David was able to experience it just in the nick of time before hitting his teenage years. And I know it’s über dorky but for many years following Halloween 2000 I proudly carried the ticket around in my wallet wherever I went. It was a symbol, to me, for breaking through.

Oh snap, remember Gyro's?
Oh snap, remember Gyro’s?
Good times
Good times


Say whaaaaa...
Say whaaaaa…

Summer 2004. My cousins on Vince’s side from time to time held family get togethers on Saturdays, and this was one of those jam-packed occasions. Their huge two story house was the perfect place for family reunions and gatherings. As previously stated, I admired Vince growing up. And I’ve always strove to be a great cousin and example for David, like how Vince was to me. So I guess you could say it was pretty fitting anytime that Vince, David and I found ourselves under the same roof. It actually didn’t happen as often as one might think since David’s family wasn’t super close with Vince’s family, and David was a homebody who deeply valued his peace and privacy. But in a stroke of luck, David decided to come out to the party on this fateful day, and that was where he dropped a bombshell on little ol’ me.


Everyone was hanging out downstairs or playing pool in the backyard. David and I were chilling upstairs in the den. We were playing foosball and just kind of hanging out when he looked at me and said something I would never forget.

“… I got a D in math this past semester.”

All my life I’ve looked at David as the little brother I never had. And his bold gesture, despite the negative context, made me feel SO proud. He rarely opened up like that to anybody. At that moment I knew, without a shadow of a doubt and for the first time ever, that he saw me as the older brother HE never had. My family has never been the strongest in terms of keeping an open line of communication as I think many of us don’t feel comfortable sharing details. So for David to share that with me on that day… it blew me away. I, of course, reassured him that it was OK and that life is about learning from our mistakes. We had a really good and deep conversation before joining the rest of the fam downstairs. It was one of those bonding conversations you never forget.



It was the spring of 2005. There was a big event going on at my University one night. Everyone was welcomed to join the fray in the Student Union. It was a rally night to discuss various topics in the Asian community such as issues related to drugs, sex, sexual identity, you know, that kind of gig. I asked David to join me. Surprisingly, he was game. So 30 minutes before the event began at 7 PM, I drove to his place to pick him up.


The event was packed with roughly 60 to 75 college students from every imaginable walk of life. I glanced over at David as we found our seats. I was ecstatic that he decided to come along and step out of his comfort zone. I wanted to expose him to a slice of college life. He was probably the only high school kid there that night.

Following a brief introduction by the MC and a speech by the presenter, the floor was opened up to the people for thoughts and questions. The MC asked if anyone would like to respond to the speech. Glancing around the room, and then looking over at David who sat there with an odd grin on his face, I decided to stand up. As I stood up from my seat I could see David looking up at me in a state of semi shock. I’d never really told him about my public speaking background before. No doubt the #1 reason I decided to speak that evening was to show David you can do anything when you believe in yourself.

Staring out at a sea of humanity...
Staring out at a sea of humanity…

The walk from my seat to the front of the lecture hall felt long as hell. I think a few students coughed as I made my way up there. I shook the MC’s hand and then turned to face the audience. Man was it packed. Tugging on my blue Michael Jordan skullcap, I began my spiel.

“You know, in our Asian culture it’s not easy being homosexual. *pause* Not that I am… and not that there’s anything wrong with being homosexual.”

The room filled with laughter. I saw David cracking up. I think in some way he understood I was doing this for him. His expression was one that read, “That’s my cousin up there.” [Or maybe “I don’t know him, I swear, I don’t!” -Ed.]

On a side note, I had a point to my speech. The usage of comic relief in the intro was to lighten up the mood for a second. I certainly wouldn’t do it in a room full of college professors. It’s all about reading your audience!

However, the thrill of the night came later on. We broke into small groups to talk about our experiences and thoughts on these various issues in the Asian community. We sat in a circle and went around. When it got to be David’s turn, he shared his two cents. This high school kid was talking with a group of college students like he belonged. I was so proud of the guy. I remember just beaming at him like a proud older brother.

When the meeting concluded, David and I talked and joked all the way back to the parking garage. It was a cold and starry night. Just absolutely serene. I was thrilled that I was able to provide David with a small taste of what was to come in his future, being that he was now almost 17. Any sort of preparation, no matter how small, is big. Plus he got to see his crazy ol’ cousin in action as a bonus :D

Driving David home on the freeway that night, music blaring, I think I did Vince proud.

It was a great night for all
It was a great night for all



Later that summer in July of 2005 I took David to his first baseball game. It went to extra innings and ended with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th. We had a blast at the park rooting on the home team. It was another item checked off David’s list. It was simple, it was fun and he couldn’t have watched a better more exciting game. We went home on a high :)



4th of July, 2006. I took David to one of my favorite spots to watch fireworks. It’s on a hill in the eastern side of town. At sunset the view is pretty damn gorgeous. We had a blast just talking, catching up, admiring the fireworks and celebrating America’s 230th birthday.

Check out these crazy weird photos I took that night:



Rise of the Silver Surfer. Hey, it's a guilty pleasure OK?
Rise of the Silver Surfer is a guilty pleasure

June 15, 2007 (the date this article was originally written) marked David’s 19th birthday. It was also the opening day for Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. We caught the first film on opening weekend back in 2005. It was me, David and our cousin Mike out to celebrate David’s last year before hitting his 20’s.

Remember Marvel '91 trading card series? Classic!
Remember Marvel ’91 trading card series? Classic!
What a bad ass time to be a kid!
What a bad ass time to be a kid!

When we arrived at the theater it was completely jam packed! I couldn’t help but notice cute girls around David’s age were all over the place. Given the film, no shocker there. David was sitting on the edge of a row, Mike in the mid — oh look, here’s a pic to make your life (and mine!) easier.

But imagine the seats looking MUCH nicer
But imagine the seats looking MUCH nicer

The girl sitting in the row in front of us, about 5 minutes before the trailers, turned around to look back at me.

“Hey, are you saving that seat there for a friend?” she pointed to the empty seat that separated me and the cute girl.


“Is it cool if you move over? My two friends are coming soon and we’re out of seats in this row here.”

No problem, I told her. OH NO PROBLEM AT ALL! David, Mike and I moved over one seat. So now the cute girl and I were sitting next to each other. I can’t say that it hurt my feelings.

And then… as I sunk into my chair and chatted with Mike and David, the two friends the girl had mentioned walked into the theater and made their way to our row.

These two ladies, as fate would have it, were the type to turn heads. I looked over at David as one of them sat down beside him and I could sense him doing mental cartwheels. Ah indeed, what a stroke of luck for my fine feathered friend.

I felt so happy for David. Dude was GOOD!
Good times

Right before the house lights dimmed for the trailers, I caught a glimpse of a sly little grin crossing David’s face. As the first preview roared over the screen and speakers, I laughed to myself, poking Mike. I gave him the look. He, too, knew what was going on with David. He discreetly glanced over at David in the darkness and then back to me, returning the “I gotcha” gesture.

What David probably dreamed of doing :P
What David probably dreamed of doing :P

After the movie I took David and Mike to a nearby Italian restaurant. David insisted on going to Taco Bell or Wendy’s. I told David that I love those places as much as anyone but those are no places to eat on a birthday. This Italian restaurant was far from hoity-toity upper class, but at least it had some class.

Once seated, I noticed a waitress who looked vaguely familiar. She was serving an old couple the table over. Hmmm, where have I seen her before?

This restaurant, being family oriented, had each table adorned by white drawing paper you could write and color on. A set of crayons were sprawled between the salt ‘n pepper. I took a green crayon and wrote on the sheet “Happy 30th Birthday David!”

Zoom in on mobile and you can see my messy scribble
Zoom in on mobile and you can see my messy scribble

It was an in-joke between the three of us. We often joked that David, although turning 19 at the time, always acted like someone much older than his age. David and Mike laughed when they saw my message on the dining table paper.

When our waitress came over to field our orders, she pointed to the crayon scribbling and asked “Whose birthday is it?” I pointed to David, who made meek eye contact with this attractive Filipino lass probably in her mid 20’s.

“Well, happy birthday, David,” she said warmly. He said a quick thank you. “I’ll be back with your drinks in a minute. If you need anything else, let me know.”

And then the waitress from the other table walked by. I saw her face and it hit me. She looked at me funny, too.


“Oh my God, Steve??”

Tiffany was an old family friend I’d spent more than a few Saturday nights with, back in ’99 and 2000 along with another family friend, Tim. Back then, our parents met at Tim’s house once or twice a month for dancing and drinking. The parents partied downstairs while we did our thing upstairs. Tim and I both openly shared a crush on Tiff. Some nights she was closer to him, other nights closer to me (not physically close but emotionally). It was a friendly rivalry between he and I (we were really good friends). All in all it was good harmless 16 year old fun.

In fact, that hill I took David to on 4th of July, 2006, was the same hill in which Tim, Tiff and I spent our 4th of July back in 2000, just months before I took David to his first ever haunted house. Crazy how things connect…

Anyhow, Mike and David looked on in a mixture of confusion and wonder as Tiff and I quickly played catch-up. What a freaking small world! We hadn’t seen each other since the summer of 2000 when the parents quietly disbanded their Saturday night dance and drink-athons. Our impromptu reunion ended when she had to go back to waiting tables. We hugged and wished each other well. And that was that.

So now Mike, David and I were eating and talking. Just enjoying life. And then our waitress came over, along with another attractive female co-worker, holding a surprise small fudge cake. David’s expression said it all.

“We’re going to sing you happy birthday but in… Italian!” they ceremoniously declared.

  • Buon compleanno a te
    Buon compleanno a te
    Buon compleanno a David
    Buon compleanno a teeeeeeeeeeee

As they sang, I noted the way they starred merrily into David’s eyes as though he were the most handsome young man they had ever laid eyes on. I NEVER saw David look any prouder in the 19 years that I had known him than at that very moment in time. He sat up, chin held up high and he was beaming from ear to ear. I sat there and admired the moment. It’s an image that’s been embedded in my soul.

The rest of the day David was like a new man. I ribbed him about his two new girlfriends. He laughed and had this spark in his eyes as he went along with the joke — it made me so happy seeing him be so happy :)

And, to this day, it’s a joke we still occasionally joke about.



In early 2015 I gave David a copy of Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman, written by my buddy, Rob Strangman. I contributed 5 guest stories to Rob’s epic book of video game memories from yesteryear, and I felt the time was right to finally share with David about the existence of RVGFanatic, and the article I had written about him way back in 2007. He was touched.


To my cousin, David, AKA the little bro I never had, thanks for being my cousin brother. May you always reach for the stars and be who you’re meant to be. Love ya, bro.

PS- Your ass still owes me a roller coaster ride ;)

Halloween Memories

A night of magic, wonder and scares
“And the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes…”

Halloween. One of my favorite times of the year, October brings to mind so many fond memories. I love Halloween — the ghoulish sights and sounds, the trick or treating tomfoolery, the spooky atmosphere, watching horror movies on a rainy night in the dark, playing scary video games and so forth. I just love everything about it. Hell, Halloween is one of my favorite movies of all time. Tonight I’m proud to share three different stories all related to Halloween. So kick back, grab a cold one and enjoy…

But first, click here as the theme accompanies the text to follow:


Thanks, Uncle Jimmy
Thanks, Uncle Jimmy

In 1989 my uncle took me to a local mom and pop shop called Video Mart. The box art of HALLOWEEN captivated my six year old imagination. It was my favorite holiday. And I always had a thing for horror, even at six. My uncle was the cool, laid back type, so he obliged, renting the film thinking I could handle it.

I ended up watching the film largely behind my couch, and that night I had a nightmare of Michael Myers chasing me. I became a life long fan from that point on. Go figure.

There isn’t a Halloween that goes by where I don’t pop in at least one of the Halloween films. Besides, there’s something else that will forever connect me with the famed horror franchise…



So what is Halloween? For those living under a rock for the last nearly 40 years…

It's a freaking classic, that's what
It’s a freaking classic, that’s what
It always happens in a sleepy town...
It always happens in a sleepy town…

Made and released in 1978 on a shoestring budget, it went on to win the hearts of horror fans everywhere, plus critical acclaim. It had a classic mysterious villain, a great lead in Jamie Lee Curtis and took place in the fictional sleepy midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois. And in one night, Michael Myers turned Haddonfield into his own personal bloody playground.

He's there one second...
He’s there one second…
... and gone the next!
… and gone the next…
You never know where he might pop up
You never know where he might pop up
Perhaps right in your own backyard!
Perhaps right in your own backyard!
An unrelenting machine and force of nature
An unrelenting machine and a force of nature
An infamous scene. So damn spooky
An infamous scene. So damn spooky
The boogeyman haunted many of us growing up
The boogeyman haunted many of us growing up
Another classic, iconic scene
Another classic, iconic scene
Lock your doors and hide under the bed
Lock your doors and hide under the bed
... coz here comes MIKEY!
… the boogeyman cometh!


Nelson and I were best buds from Kindergarten-7th grade. That’s when I moved. We reconnected in the 2000s. Over the years we’ve kept in touch and although we’re no longer best friends, we have history of over 25 years. It’s one of those things where we may go weeks or even months without contact, but whenever we get back in touch it’s like we never left.

Two months ago I decided to visit ole Nelly for the weekend so we could catch up and hang out. We set out to visit Disneyland since it was about 30 minutes away from his place. Yup, weekend at Nelly’s.

Driving on the way to Nelson’s, my heart stopped when I saw a striking neighborhood that rang some serious deja vu bells in my head. As my car rumbled on down the road I couldn’t help but burn a hole through my rear view mirror as I desperately tried to steal a glimpse at what I just drove by. Was it, could it be? No way… I passed a few traffic lights before finally pulling over. I just had to find out if my gut was right or not before heading to Nelson’s. Busted out my phone and typed into Google:


A website came up, and an address in South Pasadena was given. My hands were shaking as I punched said address into Google Maps.


“1.8 miles away.”

I had just drove by one of the iconic Halloween filming locations! HADDONFIELD IN THE FLESH! The Halloween super geek in me was coming out big time. What were the odds that my childhood best friend (who also loved the Halloween franchise) would turn out to live 3 miles away from “Haddonfield” ? It was a moment of true serendipity. I texted Nelson and said I’d be coming 30 minutes late. It was a personal pilgrimage I simply had to brave for myself solo first.

And this is what I found that fateful day…


Holy crap, there I stood, at the very location nearly 40 years later!

After geeking out (and possibly even vlogging the moment), I drove the 3 miles over to Nelson’s. I showed him the pictures (and possibly video) I took. He was marking out too. He moved to LA about 7 months ago, but had no idea he lived 3 miles away from “Haddonfield.” Next thing you know, we’re on an impromptu trip down memory lane as we drove all over South Pasadena looking for a ton of Halloween nostalgia live in the flesh.

This is what we found that day.

The Myers' house from 1978
The Myers’ house from 1978
The house, now a business office, in 2016
The house, now a business office, in 2016

Michael Myers’ house was demolished and moved to a new location. It now serves as an office. Despite the disappointment of that, Nelson and I still sat there in awe. Reminiscing and laughing about the good old days, that’s when we noticed a DirecTv satellite dish on the side of the house. We also could hear the loud humming of an air conditioner. It was a hot August day in Haddonfield… the dog days of summer, indeed. That’s when I said, “What the hell, Michael Myers watching Game of Thrones with the AC on? DUDE IS GETTING SOFT!” Nelson added in, “What’s Michael Myers doing browsing PornHub!?”

We probably shouldn’t have cracked up so hard, but we did. Nelson and I laughed up a storm until we were nearly teary eyed. Man, I hadn’t laugh that good in quite a while. A mere hour prior to this, we both just assumed we’d catch up a bit and find Mickey. Little did we know! Instead, we found ourselves reconnecting and hunting a boogeyman who has haunted us both since childhood. Suddenly, we were chasing a ghost from our past. A ghost with no face. “And the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes.” (Rest in Peace, Donald Pleasence)

Each filming location foray brought me and Nelson closer to the edge of a bygone era. An age we both thought had all but disappeared. It was like slipping through the back door of a time machine. Suddenly, we were wide-eyed kids again. Unjaded and uncorrupted by the foul orders of life and growing up.

Another classic scene from the 1978 masterpiece
Another classic scene from the 1978 masterpiece
The same spot nearly 40 years later!
The same spot nearly 40 years later!

Wow. Standing there taking this pic sent goosebumps up and down my spine. The best part about this whole ordeal was the complete random unplanned nature of it all. We didn’t even know Haddonfield was right in Nelson’s backyard! It’s true — sometimes the best things in life are completely unexpected.

Laurie Strode's house
Laurie Strode’s house
The elementary school they used in the film
The elementary school they used in the film

All in all, it was one of those epic weekends that stay with you long after the twilight of Sunday passes. Every once in a while you just need to get away from it all and have a good old fashioned adventure with your best buddy.


My favorite cartoon episode of all time
My favorite cartoon episode of all time

October 30, 1994 is a night I’ll always remember. Halloween Eve. On this night a cartoon episode entitled Doug’s Halloween Adventure aired. Little did I know then just how much my real life Halloween adventure THE VERY NEXT NIGHT would reflect what happened in this epic episode. But more on that later…

Doug was pretty much the cartoon version of The Wonder Years, and I absolutely loved it. This episode is the best one of the Doug show, and possibly of all shows. It just fits the Halloween mood perfectly and to me epitomizes the word “adventure.” I’m proud to present a retelling of this awesome tale. Enjoy.


It all started a LOOONG time ago, when the powerful Baron Von Hecklehoffer fell in love with a beautiful maiden. To win her love, he built a gigantic mansion. It took him seventeen looong years, but he did it.

Finally, on the day they got married, he brought his new bride to the house.

He swept her into his arms and ran up the steps
He swept her into his arms and ran up the steps
Then he pushed the door open for the first time
He pushed the massive door open for the first time
He stepped on to the threshold and -- SPLAT!
He stepped across the threshold and — SPLAT!

He forgot to put in a floor.


And ever since they plunged to their horrible bloody deaths there’s been a CURSE on the house.

"Anyone home?"
“Anyone home?”


And few have dared to enter it. OH SURE, there were people who said they didn’t believe in haunted houses, at least until they crossed…


Let’s just say — they never stayed too long…

For years nobody bought the house
For years nobody bought the house

That is… no one living…


… Until one day, a scary hooded guy, whose face nobody ever saw, decided to put the house to better use…



And right in the middle of the park is the scariest ride ever – a ride through a real haunted house — BLOODSTONE MANOR! MWAHAHAHAHA!


“And tonight is the grand opening, and you and I are going in! Cool, huh?!”

“Y-Y-Y-eah, great.”


You know, Halloween is usually my most favorite holiday.


Free candy, spooky pumpkins and costumes, but this year was a little different. This year Skeeter was making me go to the grand opening of the scariest ride ever made.


I was hoping maybe I wouldn’t be TOO scared, because I was going as somebody really great — RACE CANYON.


“HA! I made it. The infamous Bloodstone Manor!

“Not so fast, Doctor Canyon. Are you ready to cross the Threshold of Death?”

*Doug whips a rope around the neck of the hooded guy*

“What’s the matter, big boy? You look… whipped!”


“Nice going, Doug!”

“No problem, Doctor Canyon.”

“Oh, and nice outfit.”

“Why thanks!”

*Doug slides down the stairs*


“Awww, is little Dougie dressed up to go twick-or-tweeting?”


“No Judy, I’m going to Bloodstone Manor. You get in free if you wear a costume.”


Bloodstone Manor?!? I hear that’s unbelievably terrifying!”

“It’s just a ride, Judy. How scary can it be?”

"So, you think you're brave, do you?
“So, you think you’re brave, do you?


Find out tonight at Funky Town when Bloodstone Manor opens its doors to give you the scare of your life — or DEATH! Wear a costume and get in free. But once you cross the Threshold, there’s NO turning back!


"So Skeet, uh, you ready to go trick or treating?"
“So Skeet, uh, you ready to go trick or treating?”


“Trick or treating? But Doug, I thought we were going to ride Bloodstone Manor?”

“You’re not gonna pass up free candy, are ya, man?”

“But there’s gonna be HUGE lines if we don’t get to Funky Town early! We might NOT get on!”

That’d be terrible… well, I guess we better get started trick or treating.”


“Uh, Doug, don’t you think we’re a bit too old for trick or treating?”

“Naw, you’re never too old for free candy.”


“8 o’clock! C’mon man! Let’s get to Funky Town! We only got two hours!”

Two hours? How much longer could I stall? We already been around the neighborhood twice.

"Oooooh, who chopped off my head? Ooooh"
“Oooooh, who chopped off my head? Ooooh”

“Hey Roger.”


“I told you we’d scare the pants off them! You should have seen your faces. So, who are you two supposed to be? A hobo and a bath tub?”

“No, man. I’m a spaceship from Space Munks, you know, the video game! And he’s Race Canyon.”

“HA! Oh brother! YOU’RE Race Canyon? More like… Race CHICKEN!

“Hey Roger, let’s see how brave Race Chicken is!”

“Yeah, he can be the first one to TP Mr. Bone’s house!”

“C’mon Race, let’s see you in action.”

“But Roger, we can’t do this.”

“Chicken! Chicken!”

“I am not chicken, it’s just — ”

“Then DO IT why don’t cha?”

"... C'mon Skeeter, let's go"
“… C’mon Skeeter, let’s go”
"Great!  We're just in time for the show! Hurry!"
“Great! We’re just in time for the show! Hurry!”


Who was I kidding? How was I gonna cross the Threshold of Death when I didn’t even have the nerve to TP a house?

“C’mon Doug we gotta go!”

“I can’t, Skeeter. I’m sorry but…”


“What do I need that hat for anyhow? I’m no Race Canyon.”

"That's OK... we can always go some other time..."
“That’s OK… we can always go some other time…”
Doug's crush -- Patti Mayonnaise
Doug’s crush — Patti Mayonnaise

“Hey guys, whacha doin’? Trick or treating?”

“Naw uh! No way, no, nope, no…”

“Yeah, me neither. My dad’s taking me to Bebe’s costume party. Cool costumes. Are you some sort of spaceship, Skeeter?”

“Yeah, from Space Munks!”

“And you, Doug, you look like — ”

“I know, I know. A hobo.”

Doug is about to "level up"
Doug is about to “level up”

“Actually I was going to say Race Canyon, but without the hat.”

“You really think so?”

Yeah! If you were a little taller, I’d say you were the spitting image!”


*Doug daydreams*

“I’ll handle this. BEAT IT!

"Ohhh Race. Yer mah hero!"
“Ohhh Race. Yer mah hero!”

“Say Patty, I don’t suppose you and your dad could drop us off at Bloodstone Manor? Gotta cross the Threshold of Death.”

“All right, man!”


“I can’t believe it. You guys are going to Bloodstone Manor, and you’re not scared?”

“Of course not.”

“Well I am! I’d never go on it after what happened to those two guys.”

“Well, you can’t let a little — two guys, what two guys?”


“Yeah, they say when they were testing it, two workers rode in, but the only thing that came out… were THEIR SHOES! MWAHAHAHAHA!

“Daddy! Stop it.”


“Well, you can’t believe everything, who told you this?”

“Skeeter. See ya!”

“What’s this about shoes?”

“Oh they’re just rumors, man. Like that stuff about the maniac.”

“Maniac?! What do you mean, maniac!?”

“Well they say the guy in the hood, you know the guy who bought the house and brought it here, some people think he’s STILL in there.”

*Doug gasps*

“You can’t believe every — oh maaan! Look at that line. Eight-thirty. Oh that’s just great!”

*75 minutes later*

“Nine forty-five. Fifteen minutes til it closes. We’re almost there!”

“Step all the way into the strange realm of the supernatural. Abandon all ye food or drinks”

“What’s happening?! Can you see!?”


“Well, if it ain’t Chicken Boy and Bath Tub, thanks for saving my place!”

“We didn’t — ”

“Attention everybody, the park is now closing.”


“Hey, we still got fifteen minutes!”

“Why don’t you go to the gift shop. I’m outta here!”

“I can’t believe it, after we waited all this time!”


“Hey look!”

“You guys thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Roger, the guy says they’re closed.”

“Who, that loser? We still got fifteen minutes. We’re within our legal rights.”

“I dunno, Roger…”

“Chicken, chicken!”

“He’s right, man. We still have fifteen minutes before the park closes up.”

“Alright then. Let’s do this….”



“Welcome. I have a special treat in store for… TRESPASSERS. As you can see, there’s no way out of this room, except for…


“Ooooh man, now what are we gonna do?”

“Oh no!”

"Kind of a short ride, isn't it?"
“Kind of a short ride, isn’t it?”
"Wait, look! It's a trick, mirrors or something!"
“Wait, look! It’s a trick, mirrors or something!”


“Yeah, c-c-cool…”

“Easy, Roger. There’s nothing to be — ”


“You’ve crossed the Threshold of Death. There’s no turning back now.

I see you found the dining room…


And I see by the grandfather clock it’s time to eat. Sit down, SIT DOWN! You don’t want your food to get cold, do you?”

“I’m not so sure I feel hungry…”

“I thought you might enjoy a small salad!”

"Look out look out!"
“Look out look out!”

*Ride comes to a screeching halt*


“Hey! What’s going on?”

“Uh oh…”

“What is it, Skeet?”

"It's 10 o'clock, man... they're closing the park!"
“It’s 10 o’clock, man… they’re closing the park!”


“Wait a minute, Roger. I’m sure we can find a way out somewhere if we just don’t panic.”

“Hey man, it looks like there’s some stairs leading down!”

NO WAY, I ain’t going NOWHERE!

“Oh c’mon Roger, quit kidding.”

“Wait, Doug! Don’t leave!”

“What is it, Roger?”

“Did you hear something? I thought I heard something.”

“We’re getting outta here. We’ll find somebody to get this ride going again.”

*Doug and Skeeter set off while Roger stays back*

*10 minutes later*

“That must be Roger over there, c’mon Doug!”



“I think I may be scared now…”


“What are we gonna do, Doug?”

“Where IS everybody? You thinking what I’m thinking?”


“Run away?”



“No Skeeter. We can’t leave Roger behind. We gotta go back.”

“I was afraid you’d say that.”

"AH! ... Boy, they sure make these things look real, don't they?"
“They sure make these things look real, don’t they?”

“AHHH! W-W-We were just looking for our friend, sir, and we think… he might be here in your… lovely home?”

“Your friend is NOT here. GET OUT!

“Yes sir. Thank you sir. C’mon Doug. You heard the nice maniac… Roger’s not here.”

“C’mon guys! This way!”

“Skeet! That’s Roger!”

“No, man! It just sounds like him. C’mon!”


What was I doing? Running away like a little chicken, just like before. Leaving Roger at a time like this.

I knew what I had to do
I knew what I had to do

“Doug! What are YOU doing?”

“Excuse me, sir, we’re not leaving without Roger.”



“Over here, you morons! Alright, when I see them coming I’ll shout TRICK or TREAT, and then you guys CREAM them, got it?”

"Got it! Heh heh heh"
“Got it! Heh heh heh”

“Roger’s outside, but how?”

*Maniac hits rewind*


“Those goons. I bet they think I’m a chicken. AH HA! Well, we’ll JUST see who’s the chicken!”

“That weasel…”

“So he tricked us!”

“… That rat! We go through all this trouble and now we get EGGED.”



“I’m f-f-f-freezing…”

“Hey! Can it! They’ll be out soon. I wonder what’s taking those guys so long?”


“Shut up Boomer!”

“I didn’t say anything, Roger.”

“Then who…”


“What the — ! Y-Y-Y-You’re….”


“And now we’re gonna haunt you forever… I guess”
“WHERE ARE YOU GOING? Yer not chicken are ya?!”

“You got that right! Ch-ch-chicken! Don’t haunt me, Doug! I’ll do anything!”


“We’ll clean them up, honest! All of them!”

“Oh yeah, I mean, don’t worry about that. We’ll clean them up!”


“Yeah sure sure, whatever you say!”

“Alright then. OH, AND ROGER, ONE MORE THING…”


“Did you see their faces?”

“Yeah man, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them run so fast!”

“Boy, and we couldn’t have done it without you, sir.”

"I have something that may belong to you"
“I have something that may belong to you”
"A Race Canyon hat...
“A Race Canyon hat…
... MY Race Canyon hat!"
… MY Race Canyon hat!”
"But where did you -- how did you -- WHO ARE YOU?!"
“But where did you — how did you — WHO ARE YOU?!”


“… W-W-Wha’d’ya say we head home, Skeet?”

“S-S-Sounds good, man.”

Tonight, I think I did Race Canyon proud. Not only was I brave enough to cross the Threshold of Death, but I even went back to save Roger.


I wonder if Race Canyon ever had to run all the way home?


The very next night I experienced the Halloween of a lifetime. It’s a true story that I’ve shared probably over 100 times. It was one of the greatest nights of my life. A storybook-like Halloween that not even Hollywood could script any better.


Growing up I never met a single kid who didn’t look forward to this particular night. It’s the time of the year where the days grow short, and the nights grow LONG. A night where goblins roam the streets, where the moon reigns supreme, and where the clamor of sneakers crunching the gravel can be heard in the passing of the howling wind.

As a kid I had a dream. It was a simple dream. I was a simple boy. I always dreamt of having one memorable Halloween for the ages. Now I don’t know what I did to piss off the Halloween gods, or druids, but for Halloween ’91, ’92 and ’93 I was sick to the point that I couldn’t go out. Thus, I missed out on Halloween when I was 8, 9 and 10 years old. Time was running out. I still had yet to experience THAT ONE Halloween I could call my own. So that year, 1994, I didn’t care if I came down with Malaria. Not even Mother Nature’s wrath could stop me THIS year.

Nothing like counting down the days til Halloween
I was counting down the days to Monday night

My best friend, Nelson, spent the past three Halloweens with his cousins. Me getting sick around Halloween time had become… tradition. So every year I told Nelson to forget about me and go crazy. That backfired in ’94 when I realized he had already made plans with his cousins out of town. He invited me, but believe it or not, I declined my best friend’s offer. Why?

THE neighborhood to be on Halloween night
This was THE place to be on Halloween night

My cousins lived in a grand neighborhood. It was full of two story houses shoulder to shoulder — a never ending army of steamrollers. Houses decked to the nine. The Halloween atmosphere in this neighborhood was off the chain. I remember it well from 1990 — the last time I was able to go trick or treating. I was determined to return to that majestic neighborhood for Halloween 1994. It was a strong feeling in my gut — I just knew I HAD to be there. I didn’t know what would happen. I just knew I needed to be there on that night.

Vintage upper-middle class suburbia
Vintage upper-middle class suburbia


My cousin Vivian picked me up and drove me to her place. There I met her cousin, John. Like me, he was 11, so we hit it off quickly. And with an air of mystique in the, er, air, and the moon out in full force… it was grounds for a perfect night of Halloween mischief.

Gotta love that cool crisp October night air, ahhh...
Gotta love that cool crisp October night air, ahhh…

All of my cousins had Halloween parties to go to, so they left me and John to our own devices. It was 8 PM. The night was young. And the night was now ours to rule.

I still remember it was Monday Night Football
I still remember it was Monday Night Football

The first house an old man opened the door and in the background I heard:

Dun dun dun dun… DUNT DUNT… DA DUNT!

His living room was lit only by the glow of the television, whose flickering images made shadows dance against the wall like primitive tribal warriors.

The old man dropped Snickers and Skittles into our Halloween bags. “My Packers kickin’ some butt tonight. You two have a good one now, you hear.”

Trick first, treat second
Trick first, treat second

A couple houses later, we were walking up the steps casually when a flying corpse blindsided us from out of nowhere! John and I jumped back as we watched the corpse swing back and forth. A laugh came from behind the black curtain, which draped the entire porch. A man in his late 20s peered out from behind the curtain and waved to me and John. GOTCHA!” He grabbed his corpse on a rope and reset it to its original starting point.

He showed us the tricks of the trade
He showed us the tricks of the trade

He showed us the small hole he’d cut in the black curtain to prey on poor unsuspecting trick or treaters. Said we were his first victims of the night. We shared a hearty laugh while he passed out the candy. Then he spotted some new blood quickly approaching.

“Alright boys, if you don’t mind, I best be getting back to my command center! Thanks for… dropping by! MWAHAHAHA!”

I watched as he ran up the steps and behind the thick black curtain, which was impossible to see from far away in the dark of night. I remember smirking to myself thinking that’s certainly ONE way to stay young! And that meeting him was like meeting a zany Wizard of Oz or rather, a Wizard of Halloween Town.


This night was turning out better than I hoped...
This night was turning out better than I hoped…

John and I were just trick-or-treating and having a good time being carefree kids on this most mystical of nights.


We made sure to point out all the macabre decorations, of which, ON THIS NIGHT, in this neighborhood, there were hundreds. Once again this neighborhood lived up to the hype. It WAS Halloween Town. Part of the fun of trick or treating is seeing all the houses decorated to the nine. And we were not disappointed on that night.

A shrill scream sent shivers up and down my spine
We could hear kids screaming around the bend

An hour flew by. It was now 9 PM. We were standing here when, suddenly, we heard a scream in the not too far distance. “The hell is that!” I said excitedly. We ran the next block over with great hope. There we found a cul-de-sac.


John and I power walked toward the source...
John and I power walked toward the source…

At the very end of the court stood a towering 2-story house that looked like it jumped out of a horror movie. John and I looked at each other in bewilderment as we made our way to the ghostly abode. Upon reaching the driveway, I heard something I’d never forget…


John and I gathered at the end of the line
John and I gathered at the end of a long line

The blood curling shriek sent a chill up and down my spine. Next to me stood a monstrous executioner. “What is this?” We pointed to the line of kids just ahead of us on the driveway.

“Welcome to the Johnsons’ Haunted House!!!” he bellowed, his shiny ax gleaming on his broad shoulder in the faint glow of the street lamp. “Free of charge but beware… once you go in… there’s NO GOING OUT! MWAHAHAHA!”

John and I grinned at one another and hi-fived. Wow, a haunted house! And free, too! Neither of us had been to one before, and I’d always wanted to. This was turning out to be THE perfect night…

I glanced up at the upstairs window
I glanced up at the upstairs window

As we waited in line my imagination ran away. I thought back to last night — Doug’s Halloween Adventure. Was this a ride? No, it’s only a 2-story house, silly. My mind was racing a million miles a minute. I never felt so alive before.

Moments later, I glanced up. One window was lit under the glow of the moon. More screaming came from the garage. It was so intensely atmospheric, and to an 11-year-old, it was pure Heaven! There was a raw rush of adrenaline flowing throughout my body, and you could cut the anticipation in the air. All of us kids standing in line there that night were psyched to the gills!

Finally we found ourselves at the very start
We had no choice but to press on…

8 minutes later John and I found ourselves at the gate. The night was so pitch black I couldn’t even make out my own hand in front of my face. The gate door creaked open with a loud sound effect. A light mist splashed its way into my eyes. In the near distance a loud chainsaw was buzzing. I wondered, “If I take four steps forward, would my head get chopped off?”

… sweeeet!

Horror movie villains galore!
Horror movie villains galore!

We forged on ahead, spider web tangling in our hair. Taking a turn on our left to the garage door entrance, we followed an S curve. Strobe light hit us from every which angle, and horror movie icons flashed in the darkness at all turns! Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and big ol’ Leatherface all on hand! And they were authentic. The knife Myers held was real, as was the chainsaw wielded by Leatherface.

Near the end a large trash can lid had a note scribbled across it…


John gave me the honors. So then, in the strobe-lit madness, with a ghoulish soundtrack playing loudly in the garage, I popped the lid open and out jumped a werewolf! For amateurs, the whole setup was unbelievable, full of first rate costumes, props and creativity. BRAVO, JOHNSONS!

Finally we made our way through the garage door, leading to their living room, which led to the front entrance where the haunted house trip concluded with candy. John and I were absolutely THRILLED. We thanked the Johnsons for their awesome efforts. Never in a million years did I ever imagine anything like this would happen…


John and I were high on Halloween spirit
John and I were high on Halloween spirit

John and I were walking the streets now, trick-or-treating some more and talking excitedly about what we just went through. Did we pick the right neighborhood or what! And just when I thought it couldn’t get any more eventful… IT DID.

All of a sudden all the houses went DARK...
All of a sudden all the houses went DARK…

It was 9:45 now and the streets became incredibly dark. Everyone was gone. No more trick-or-treaters in sight. I looked up at the huge 2 story houses that lined the streets like an army of steamrollers. All the lights were now switched off. It was odd. It was… eerie. Like a ghost town. The mist started to roll in… it was getting to be that kind of night…

A showdown like back in the wild old west
A showdown like back in the wild old west

John and I were walking down this long dark street when, out of the mist, came these five taller and older boys. They must have been 13 or 14 years old.

Looking back, we probably should have turned the other way, but that night of Halloween 1994 we didn’t. Both parties kept walking toward one another… until we came face-to-face. The one in the middle was evidently the leader as he walked slightly ahead.

He stepped up to me and John. The five of them stared the two of us down.

Then, without warning, the leader snatched John’s candy bag!

The bullies laughed, hi-fived one another and jogged off into the dark night.

I’ll never forget that look on John’s face. A look of hopelessness, a look of devastation.

Two hours’ worth… gone. Like that *snap fingers*

Something deep inside me SNAPPED
I did the great, late Jesse Owens PROUD

I peered down that long dark street into the mist. By now the bullies were getting smaller and smaller until I could barely make them out.

I stared back at John once more. He was still frozen in a state of dead shock. Then, without saying a word, I dropped my bag and sprinted after the bullies. I snapped. I didn’t really think about it, but between seeing the violated look on his face, the adrenaline coursing through my body, and the INJUSTICE of it all, something inside me SNAPPED.

And the weirdest thing happened as I ran. Everything around me blurred. I became the only concrete object amidst an army of gorgeous 2 story houses. I saw myself running in third person… saw the moment happening from BEHIND MY BACK.

I had an out-of-body experience.

As I closed in on the unsuspecting bully, I swiped back John’s bag. I stood there with the bag firmly in my grasp as the lead bully whipped around to face me.

Another staredown ensued. It lasted 20 seconds, but felt more like 20 nights.

By now his goons came over and it was five of them all glaring at me. I didn’t know what was going to happen, quite frankly, at that moment I didn’t care. All I knew was, I wasn’t going to be the first one to blink. I stood my ground. Stared back at them. Come hell or high water, I wasn’t about to back down.

I matched him eyeball for eyeball. His painted pirate-y face against my cheap Walgreens $1.99 white skeleton mask. And when it was over, only one glare was left standing, and it wasn’t his.

Easing off, he signaled for his cronies to follow suit… and they left. Not a single word was ever exchanged between us.

The greatest Halloween I could ever hope for
It was a magical night. A night for the ages

I watched them disappear into the mist of the night as John caught up to me, huffing and puffing.

I handed him his bag. We didn’t say anything. Not because we had nothing to say, but because we knew nothing needed to be said. We just stood there, two 11-year-old boys, in the middle of one of the blackest nights I’d ever seen.

There isn’t a Halloween that passes where I don’t think back to that fateful night in ’94. I remember it vividly today as though it happened just last month. Finally, I experienced the Halloween I always wanted. But in my wildest dreams growing up, I never imagined it’d be what it turned out to be. It was the greatest Halloween a kid could ever ask or hope for.


The ole neighborhood. Thanks for the memories
The ol’ neighborhood. Thanks for the memories

My cousins moved from that great neighborhood many years ago… about 20, in fact, circa ’97. It was pretty much my second home growing up. In 1995 I met up with John again, both of us looking to reclaim the magic of the Halloween before. We had a blast in ’95. It was my second favorite Halloween and a worthy sequel indeed. We trick or treated in the same neighborhood, but sadly the Johnsons were not able to do their traditional haunted house this year. Something about their sons not coming home from college in time, I recall. Still, John and I told the parents how much their haunted house last year meant to us. In turn, they told us they did it for kids like us… that they were only doing what they could to make Halloween extra special for at least one kid. Hey… I can think of at least two. And I’m sure the Johnsons have created fond Halloween memories for dozens and dozens of lucky young trick-or-treaters. God Bless them. More on them a bit later.

I came face to face with the boogeyman
I came face to face with the boogeyman

After we circled the neighborhood once or twice, my cousins took us to the local haunted house. It was my first taste of the “REAL” thing. What a HIGH that proved to be. When you’re 12, it’s Heaven. We were a group of seven. Going down one dimly-lit hallway, out of nowhere Michael Myers appeared and chased us down the hallway and into the next room before disappearing back in the shadows. Being stalked by my all-time favorite villain was a nightmare come true. The first time I saw the original Halloween in 1989, I dreamt that night Myers was stalking me. Six years later, 1995, that nightmare became reality!

Halloween ’95 was a worthy sequel indeed, but as great as it was, the original (’94) was that much better.

In October of 2003 I shared my Halloween ’94 adventure in college for my public speaking class. My professor loved my story and speaking style so much that she asked me to share that same story later that month at a night workshop for beginning storytellers. I gladly obliged, and had a blast sharing my story with a room full of freshmen. Because it was at night and closer to Halloween, it made my story that much more effective. In all, I’ve probably shared my Halloween ’94 story at least 50 times, easily.


It was the night *I* came home...
It was the night *I* came home…

Halloween 2004…

TEN YEARS LATER… I returned to that same ole neighborhood. I went trick or treating with my (at the time) girlfriend, and guess what I discovered…

Johnsons still rocking it!
Johnsons still rocking it!

The Johnsons STILL live there and they STILL do the Halloween haunted house! Every year, in fact. I nearly ran up to the end of the line! I felt like a little 11-year-old kid again (I was 21 at the time).

It was surreal going through it ten years later. As Mr. and Mrs. Johnson handed me a Snickers bar at the exit, I told them I was a 11 year-old-kid 10 years ago who loved it so much. They almost fell over! We talked for 10 minutes. About the haunted house, about how the S-curve was first implemented in 1994, about the neighborhood… about LIFE.

It was SO good to know some things in life stay the same. In an era where people move often and stop doing traditions — those damn Johnsons still live in that gorgeous neighborhood… and every Halloween… they recreate the magic for kids… kids like John and me… kids who I hope will experience the kind of night we did on that fateful Halloween of ’94.

Six years went by. It was now 2010. On a whim, I decided to take a trip to Kenya for a missions trip. I was passing out pledge letters and decided what the hell, I’ll stop by the old neighborhood and see if the Johnsons are still there. They were, but Bill had passed away due to cancer. I didn’t know him per se, but the news crushed me. On the bright side, Becky and I got to reconnect, and we keep in touch even to this day. Most recently, she retired after over 30 years of teaching, and we met up for lunch this past summer to catch up and talk about life, Bill, Halloween and such. There isn’t a Halloween that passes where I don’t think of Bill and Becky. I’m grateful our paths crossed.


Halloween will always bring the kid out in me
Halloween will always bring the kid out in me

I will always love this time of the year. The crisp cool October night air. The falling leaves. The days growing shorter and the nights growing longer. Halloween will always hold a very special spot in my heart. It’s given me some great memories over the years, and who doesn’t enjoy snuggling up with a bowl of popcorn and a horror movie on a rainy night?

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of one of the greatest nights of my life. Life is crazy. The lady in the haunted house — Becky Johnson — who knew meeting a random stranger on a night 22 years ago would lead to a lifelong friendship? One of these days Becky and I have to recreate the haunted house. In the memory and honor of Bill Johnson. Perhaps Halloween 2017.

Whatever you end up doing this year, I hope you have fun, stay safe and create some fond memories. Oh, and one more thing…