Boo­ing to­day’s Hal­loween

The Covington News - - OPINION -

You’ve heard the sto­ries from the ole timers about how hard they had it.

“ Yeah, we had to walk through three feet of snow, up a moun­tain, with no shoes on, just to get to school... yes, those were the good ole days.”

Usu­ally, I let them re­count the “ good ole days” with­out re­mind­ing them that they grew up in South Ge­or­gia, where there are no moun­tains and it’s snowed twice in the last 50 years.

Now that I’m a semi- ole­timer, I find my­self re­liv­ing my past as a child. And like the ole timers I scoffed at, I find that my rec­ol­lec­tions are tinted by rose- col­ored nos­tal­gia.

For in­stance, the Hal­loweens of my youth seem to shine in com­par­i­son to what they have to­day.

First of all, we cel­e­brated Hal­loween on Hal­loween — Oct. 31. It didn’t mat­ter what day of the week the 31st fell on, that’s when we had Hal­loween.

We also ac­tu­ally went to peo­ple’s houses and knocked on their doors — even peo­ple we didn’t know. That was part of the fun. You

Ob­vi­ously, times have changed. But times al­ways change. The Hal­loween I knew is dif­fer­ent from the ones my par­ents knew, and that my chil­dren

know now.

didn’t know what you were go­ing to get, or who you were go­ing to see.

Some peo­ple you would catch to­tally un­pre­pared for Hal­loween. “ Trick or Treat!” Some guy with a “ Wel­come Back Kot­ter” T- shirt and no pants on would an­swer the door with a Pabst in his hand, obliv­i­ous that this was a hol­i­day to lit­tle kids through­out the free world. He’d then scurry about, stum­ble a few times, and come back with an as­sort­ment of odd items to place in our wait­ing bags. My friends got cans of tuna, my sis­ter a bot­tle of Brut af­ter- shave, and I got a used CB ra­dio.

Then there were al­ways the geeks who would hand out fruit — ap­ples and pears or per­haps a kiwi. The older kids would roll their house later that night for their clue­less trans­gres­sions.

This past Hal­loween was the first where our youngest child, our three- year- old son, could some­what un­der­stand what was go­ing on — es­sen­tially, he was get­ting free candy.

I was ex­cited for him, but also for me — an­other op­por­tu­nity to re­live Hal­loween vi­car­i­ously through the kids. But what we’ve found in re­cent years, and this dif­fers from my youth­ful remembrances, was that no­body was home. We went to place af­ter place and ev­ery­one was gone with their lights out.

When I was a kid, ev­ery­body was home. And if they weren’t, we banged on their door un­til some­body came, or we just took what­ever was in their car­port.

We went to ev­ery house we could. Back then, it wasn’t strangers giv­ing out candy once a year you had to worry about, it was the guy who gave out candy year­round.

Ob­vi­ously, times have changed. But times al­ways change. The Hal­loween I knew is dif­fer­ent from the ones my par­ents knew, and that my chil­dren know now.

Thirty years from now, they’ll prob­a­bly be talk­ing wist­fully about how their child­hood was more in­no­cent, more fun, even bet­ter, than the present.

The days they’ll re­count will still be the “ good ole days.” They’ll just be dif­fer­ent from mine.

I have a con­fes­sion to make. I’m ad­dicted to long, hot show­ers.

It’s hard for me not to be ad­dicted. I own a con­do­minium. It’s one of 40 units in our condo as­so­ci­a­tion.

As it goes, each condo owner con­trib­utes to­ward a com­mon fee that is used to main­tain the grounds and build­ings. The com­mon fee also cov­ers gas and wa­ter. The as­so­ci­a­tion ab­sorbs the cost of my ad­dic­tion.

The rea­son I’m ad­dicted to long, hot show­ers traces back to my child­hood. My fa­ther had to pay the wa­ter bill. Un­for­tu­nately for him, his five daugh­ters came of age dur­ing the Far­rah Fawcett era.

Their hair was long and full. It re­quired spe­cial sham­poos and con­di­tion­ers. They spent hours in the shower wait­ing for the con­di­tioner to pen­e­trate. Our wa­ter bills were as­tro­nom­i­cal.

My mother, des­per­ate to cut down wa­ter us­age, learned how to work the mas­ter wa­ter valves in the base­ment. If we went over our al­lot­ted time, she’d shut off the wa­ter.

At least once a day, one of my sis­ters went over her time. She’d stand in the shower shriek­ing, “Mom, I have con­di­tioner in my hair! Mom!”

Ev­ery once in a while, I’d at­tempt to sneak a long, hot shower but mother al­ways shut off the wa­ter. It was al­ways a help­less, un­pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence, but our wa­ter bill sure did go down.

I don’t have to worry about the wa­ter bill now.

Be­cause my condo as­so­ci­a­tion gets one wa­ter bill for all 40 units, I pay for only 1/40th of all wa­ter that is used. If I stood in the shower all day seven days a week, I’d have the lux­ury of split­ting my waste­ful­ness with 39 other suck­ers.

I got to think­ing about this con­cept as I stood in a steaminghot shower this morn­ing. I got to think­ing howmy self­ish­ness mir­rors what is go­ing on in Amer­ica.

Here in the midst of a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, our Demo­crat field is mak­ing gi­ant prom­ises: “Free” health care for all; a “free” $5,000 in­vest­ment fund for ev­ery new­born in Amer­ica; spe­cial gov­ern­ment dough to help peo­ple who took on mort­gages they can’t af­ford.

Ex­ces­sive gov­ern­ment spend­ing is hardly the do­main of Democrats. Repub­li­cans showed a tremen­dous ca­pac­ity to waste dough be­fore their spend­thrift ways helped get them booted from of­fice.

Our politi­cians don’t like the word “spend,” but the dough they spend has to come from some­where. It comes from you and me — it is taken from those who work and earn and is trans­ferred to those who want stuff.

I pre­fer to call it what it re­ally is: bribery. Our politi­cians use our own money to prom­ise things to other peo­ple who sell their votes to which­ever politi­cian prom­ises them the most.

Our politi­cians long ago be­gan us­ing the pub­lic till to bribe vot­ers into vot­ing for them. Long ago they en­gaged in the con­cept of promis­ing long, hot show­ers to ev­ery Amer­i­can, con­tent that other Amer­i­cans would cover the ex­pense .

And now, to fund hun­dreds of new bribes, taxes will have to go up. To fund the dozens of un­sus­tain­able pro­grams we al­ready have, taxes will have to go up more. Eco­nomic growth will suf­fer and, ul­ti­mately, ev­ery­one will suf­fer.

But no­body seems to care about that. Too many Amer­i­cans are more in­ter­ested in the bribes that politi­cians are promis­ing than the fis­cal train wreck that is head­ing our way.

The whole con­cept makes me so wor­ried and de­pressed, I feel the need to take longer, hot­ter show­ers. Thank good­ness 39 other suck­ers will be pay­ing for them.

Len Rob­bins


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