Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier


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Has Anyone Warned Them About Halloween?

When we first moved to our house, the one WE owned, it was an adventure in learning all sorts of new things. We learned all about homeowner’s insurance, how to shut off the gas in case of an earthquake and, most importantly, what to expect during Halloween.

No, really. When we were first married and living in a rental for the first couple of years, we got maybe 4 or 5 kids on Halloween— tops. And we really didn’t decorate that much, since there weren’t that many trick or treaters.
September rolled around after we’d moved to our new place and we were at a neighborhood get together. We were talking about the latest neighborhood news when one of our neighbors said, “Hey, has anyone warned them about Halloween?” The hubby and I looked at each other and then to our new neighbors.

“Why, do you guys have problems on Halloween?” I asked.

“Oh no, no. Well, I guess it depends on what you would call ‘problems’.”

Another neighbor chimed in, “Oh, it’s just that we get a lot of kids on Halloween.”

Relieved, I said, “Oh, ok. So how many do you usually get? Like 50 or something?”

Apparently, I said something incredibly funny because everyone laughed.

The first neighbor responded, “Well, we counted the kids we had last year. It was around 600 or so.”

“WHAT?!” But then I thought to myself, “Oh that’s ridiculous, they’re just messing with the newbies.“ Yeah, that’s pretty funny,” I said, with just a hint of sarcasm.

“Nope. No joke. 600 last year. So make sure you buy enough candy.”

The hubby and I looked around at their faces and it didn’t SEEM like they were joking.

That night, he and I were discussing the conversation. “Do you really think they had that many kids or are they just pulling our leg?” I asked. The hubby’s attitude was “Let’s wait and see what happens.”

“Oh sure,” I told him, “On Halloween night I’m gonna send you out for another 500 pieces of candy while I have a mob of kids at our door, waiting. That sounds like a wonderful plan.”

Later that week, I seemed to have my answer. Visiting a neighbor’s house, I saw literally a MOUNTAIN of candy, at least 3 feet high, piled on top of their dining room table.

Eyes wide, I asked, “That’s your Halloween candy?”

“Yes. Have you started getting yours?”

“I will as soon as I leave.”

Even as we went shopping for what seemed like an incredible amount of candy, I was hesitant. Who has this many kids at Halloween? I’d never heard of it. But then as the month went on, I began to see many of the houses in our neighborhood getting pretty decked out in preparation for it. Most houses were decorated head to toe with spider webs, ghosts and any other Halloween appropriate scary stuff.

One house apparently had all the talented people. They actually set up a guillotine, complete with a “body” with its head waiting to be chopped off. When you walked by, you triggered a device, which in turn, released the blade at the top of the guillotine down to the bottom and chopped off the dummy’s head. I was impressed at the craftsmanship of the neighborhood’s Halloween animatronics.

With all the house decorating and animatronics, it seemed like there was a wee bit of competitiveness there, people checking out what new things others were putting out for Halloween and who was just staying with their old standards. We had bought some new stuff, but really nothing could compare with what our neighbors had. I was in awe.

In all our prior years of Halloween, we always did the same thing.  Sat in the living room, waited for someone to ring the doorbell and then answered the door, gave the kids their candy and then went back and to wait 15 – 20 minutes for the next doorbell ring. Our first Halloween night in our new house, the little kids started coming around 4pm. However, once it became dark, the flow of kids knocking on our door became incessant to the point where as we were giving out the candy to one group, we could see the next group coming up the walkway. We finally just sat on the steps outside the house and handed out candy.

The stream of parents and kids was so steady at one point, it almost looked like a line at Disneyland! One of our neighbors came to check on us and said, “Oh yeah, we should have mentioned, you might wanna get some comfy chairs since there’s no point in being in the house. We just bring our lawn chairs out and make a night of it.” This went on for five and a half hours. FIVE AND A HALF HOURS! My butt was numb from sitting on concrete steps all that time.

The kids kept coming. We had bought 650 pieces of candy and used every single one of them. We ended up having to turn kids away, saying “We’re all out of candy” and hoping we didn’t get “tricked.” What a night! Over 650 kids for our first Halloween in our new house. The hubby and I were exhausted after we got done. His advice? “Time to move. Especially if we have to do THIS every year.” Many years later we still haven’t moved, but the number of kids on Halloween has increased…last year one of our neighbors counted 1400 for that particular night.

It’s getting close, so time to start getting ready for the Halloween crowd!


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Old People

As part of my job, I have to be livescanned (fingerprinted) from time to time. Today I went in and the gal was proceeding with no problem. It’s done electronically, with a scanner basically reading my fingerprints and sending them to the state and federal databases.

It’s pretty easy. First both thumbs, then all four fingers of one hand and then the other. The last thing she had to do was each pinkie finger separately.

For some reason, the machine kept rejecting the scans for my pinkie fingers. I asked her why it was a problem. Her response? “Oh we find with old people, their pinkies are sometimes more problematic.”


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Promotions

The hubby is conducting a Promotions Board for the military. This is where they evaluate soldiers prior to recommending them to advance onto the next rank. It consists of a series of different questions, which the candidates have to do their best to answer.

Hubby: What is the name of the Islamic jihadist group that currently has a presence in Syria and Iraq?

Candidate: Wait, I know that. Hmm, is it SSI? No, no, that’s not it. It’s like I…S….oh wait! I got it! SISSY!

Hubby: <bites on his pen to keep from laughing out loud>


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Someone Thinks He’s A Comedian (part of an ongoing series)

Me: Hey, there’s some research that the World Health Organization did. It’s saying that your zip code determines your overall health.

Hubby: Who?

Me: The World Health Organization.

Hubby: Who?

Me: Didn’t you hear me? I said, the…you’re very funny.

Hubby: <giggles>

Me: <eye roll>


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The Bet

For a short period of time, my mother lived in what was called “older adult” housing. That is, apartments for “mature” people, aged 55 and older. In her ‘70′s, my mom certainly fit the requirement.

Basically, folks who lived there were independent. If they required special assistance as time went on they would be given whatever they needed; meals prepared, apartment cleaned, that sort of thing. The ages of the residents ranged from relatively young and active 55 year olds to a few 100 year old spry citizens.

Every once in awhile, someone wouldn’t be seen for a few days and it would come to pass that the person had died in their apartment. This was taken very matter of factly by the residents, who didn’t seem too fazed by it.

I didn’t realize HOW not fazed they were by it until one day when I was visiting my mom. We were talking in the communal dining room. An older gentleman approached us and asked my mom if she wanted in on this month’s “action”. My mom shook her head no and he said “It’s gettin’ up there pretty good, you should think about it.”

After he walked away, I asked my mom “What’s the ‘action’?”

“Oh, these idiots are collecting money for a bet.”

“What bet?”

“They’re betting on who is going to croak next.”

“WHAT?!” I was horrified.

“Shh!! Do you have to be SO loud? Every month you’re supposed to put into the pot ‘x’ number of dollars. And then whoever dies next, if you guessed it, you get all the money. People haven’t been guessing very well, because I heard they have collected over one thousand dollars. Someone is going to make a killing.”

“MOM!”


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Someone Thinks He’s A Comedian (an ongoing series)

The hubby and I are on our way to Hollywood for a special tour. Sometimes we like to play tourist and do things that tourists would typically do. It’s fun to see a different side of where we live.

The GPS is taking us the long way around as the tour is on Sunset. The GPS makes us go further north to Hollywood Blvd and then has us come BACK to Sunset. We have the following discussion while I’m navigating Saturday night traffic in Hollywood:

Me: Man, the stupid GPS is taking us the long way ‘round. Why did it do this? We wanna be on Sunset not Hollywood.

Hubby: Doesn’t the Sunset on Hollywood?

Me: No, it doesn’t cross.

Hubby: You didn’t hear what I said.

Me: (irritated while navigating traffic) What?!

Hubby: Doesn’t the SUN SET on Hollywood? (Giggles)

Me: (groan)