Tuesday, October 31, 2006

By the pricking of my thumbs...

Tonight, Spooney will put on his Halloween Mix, and I might wear some glow-in-the-dark earrings, and we will hand out candy to the kids who show up on our porch. This is what passes for fun in NoHo on Halloween. If this year is anything like the preceding ones, we’ll get maybe 20 trick-or-treaters all night. I’m surprised that we don’t get more kids from the adjacent barrio descending on us, but maybe they’ve been taught by their parents not to take Twix from gabachos.

My scariest Halloween was one I spent in Pittsburgh when I was a grad student. I was single and living in a teeny tiny studio just a stone’s throw from Homewood Cemetery, a freaky-ass graveyard home for the Mellons and the Heinzes and other famous dead tycoons from the area. The monuments there were all huge mausoleums and stupendous marble avenging angels, you know, the kind Christopher Walken plays in the movies. Also, there was this giant pyramid. Yeah, a freakin’ pyramid. It was not a place I relished walking by at night, know what I mean?

So it’s Halloween night and I’m watching Phillip Anglim’s Macbeth on A&E. In those days A&E hadn’t yet become all true crime, all the time, and it was common for them to air taped Broadway productions. And because of the different time zones, or perhaps just due to a dearth of programming, they would usually air the same show back-to-back at least twice a night.

I’d recently played a witch in Macbeth, so I was interested in the watching the show. At the same time, I was aware that watching “the Scottish play” on Halloween was not something a superstitious person would recommend.

When I was in the play, frankly, the “Scottish play” people annoyed the shit out of me. I could never remember not to say the name of the play in the dressing room, and so was sent outside to turn around, spit and swear more times than I can remember. The lead witch was especially hysterical about the superstition stuff, and I’m pretty sure I dropped the name once or twice purely to annoy her.

Nothing calamitous went wrong with the production, although I did step off the back of the 30-foot spider web framing the stage (don’t ask) once after the blackout, and fell waist high into a gap between the risers of the raked stage. I was forced to pull the curtain over me and hide from the audience until someone pulled me out. Oh, and one of the main superstition-flaunting actors did receive a nasty blow to the hand in a sword fight and had to bow out for a week or so. All the “Scottish play” types crowed about that one for a couple of days, but really, the production went pretty smoothly, considering.

So I wasn’t truly concerned about the whole Macbeth curse thing, but all the same, when my upstairs neighbors called and asked if I wanted to come up for a drink, I was more than a little relieved not to have to spend the evening alone. Just as I was pressing the remote control to turn off the television, I heard the opening words of Act IV, Scene I, you know, the ole’ “by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” witches’ cauldron scene. “Good timing,” I thought, and clicked that shit off.

My apartment was really just a bedroom and bathroom that had been partitioned off from a huge old mansion. Three male grad students lived upstairs from me. Our apartments shared what would have been the back staircase of the house, and we frequently hung out together at their place. That night, however, they decided, against my protests, that they wanted to turn out the lights and tell scary stories. I reminded them several times that I would have to go back downstairs BY MYSELF at the end of the evening, but to no avail.

After they had exhausted their canon of ghost stories, the guys decided that they wanted to go to Homewood Cemetery. Why, I have no idea, because even a child could tell you that that is exactly the kind of behavior that gets you killed in horror movies. But they were intent, and so 3 hours or so after ascending the stairs to their place I descended back to my tiny little room. It was almost midnight.

The first thing I did was turn on the television. Macbeth was on again. The witches’ cauldron scene was just beginning, again. “Wow. Weird,” I thought.

I decided to go to bed and so I got my toothbrush and stood in front of my little kitchenette counter, watching television and brushing my teeth. Suddenly, my eyeglasses fell off my head. And I mean they fell off my head in 3 pieces. They had come apart at the joints where the bows attach to the front piece. Now, it’s not uncommon for the little screw that holds the bow on to fall out, but for both to fall out at the same time?

I stared down at the pieces of my glasses lying on the counter. I remember being just kind of stunned by the whole thing. And as I stared down, I saw a drop of blood fall onto the counter, and then two, and then many drops. I put my hand to my nose, and I was, as you might imagine, sorta terrified to discover that my nose was bleeding rather profusely. It was really fucking bleeding. Now, I hadn’t been picking, or otherwise touching, my nose prior to that moment, so I had no idea on earth why blood was now pouring from it.

“Fuck!” I yelled, and I picked up the remote and changed the channel. MTV would be safe, I thought, and indeed I was immediately comforted by the familiarity of the video for Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Goofy-ass video. No way I can be scared, now, right?

And that’s pretty much the end of the story. I stuck some toilet paper up my nose, repaired my glasses, and threw back a couple of drinks to hasten the sandman. The next day, I wondered if the whole thing had even really happened, but there was the pile of bloody tissue in the trash as proof that it had. Anyway, it just goes to show you that anything can happen on Halloween.


Spooney said...

That's a good story. I never heard that one.

GETkristiLOVE said...

A Squirrel Hill nosebleed?! Not as scary as NoHo.

Pops said...

This post is cursed. All night people have been ringing my doorbell demanding I feed them. I blame you. Henceforth I will only refer to this as "The Scottish Post" which may actually also be the name of a nationalist newspaper in Glasgow. I'm not 100% sure on that.

CiscoKid said...

Halloween stories are fun. Many years ago, a cousin and I sat through the two Halloween Movies--back to back in the middle of the week (no one in theater) and into the night. Who would have though a cat would scram through the seats banging on cans and other stuff on the floor, right in the middle of the frightening scenes...

vikkitikkitavi said...

Spooney: See? You don't know me.

GKristiL: The neighborhood was actually called Point Breeze. But that doesn't sound very scary.

Pops: Did I forget to mention that anyone who reads the post will be dead within 3 days? Sorry.

Ciscokid: Cans? Like canned food? Where the hell are you watching movies, Latvia?