- Ted & Debbie (Photographers)
The summer simmered along at normal pace, trunks and rash guard only. By delayed flights, a maroon rental car and buses we are transported to Maine for a wedding, Sam is starting to feel what a real winter is in Iowa, the rest of the boys are navigating new schools, and Simon and Theo’s birthdays have come and gone. Halloween and Thanksgiving are checked off the calender and I’m zipping up my full wet suit on a foggy cold morning in Santa Monica.
Summer gives way to fall and as winter approaches I’m reminded of all the pieces we’ve left behind, been trampled by or whisked away by each season. I’m reminded of our friends’ dog Django who could not draw the distinction between a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an extension cord (he loved eating both) but passed away in his masters arms after playing catch with a tennis ball. If only we could all be so lucky.
Vegetables from the summer garden are long since pulled up by their roots. Bordered by raised wooden beds, invisible rogue seeds are blown free to seek shelter in familiar soils.
The pull down shades eclipses the morning light creating a penumbra around their edges. We’ve had the luxury of sleeping in for a second day in a row. Ollie and Simon are having sleep overs at friends houses. Next to me, Debbie- The Tooth Fairy, Birthday Fairy, The Switch Witch who has been battling a cold is taking full advantage of Daylight Savings Time and stays in slumberland.
It’s been a crazy ass week finishing a job in The Keys battling the beginnings of Sandy. Scrimming off high winds and rain while the storm picked up steam and strength and headed up north to wreak havoc.
Back home it’s been a blur. Getting to see Sam for a day, Theo’s 12th birthday, 2 lost teeth, Halloween, The Giants Sweeping The Tigers in the World Series, culminating in the unlikely alliance of Chris Christie and Barack Obama in what has got to be the strangest crossover since Archie Andrews and The Punisher teaming up a few years ago. Defining the new surrealism for me in what has become a campaign of name calling and lies. With temperatures dropping back east and millions of people without water and power, If I were President Obama I’d hand the ball to Bill Clinton and Joe Biden and get my ass to the disaster area to the disaster area and pitch in.
It’s a quiet Halloween night in Santa Monica I think to myself. As my friend Dean and I watch our kids Trick or TreatÂ from the sidewalk I find myself becoming a champion of a Halloween that I had when I was growing up. We set off on on our premeditated raid of Coral Ridge aboard red and blue sting rays. In my world bike helmets and lights weren’t even invented. Light Sticks were being developed somewhere in top secret labs. We are armed with eggs, toilet paper, fireworks and our newest weapon- Super Glue. We are dressed as hippies, devils, ghosts and Indians. Â We live with the fear of having our pillow cases filled with candy laced with LSD and apples laden with rusty razor blades.
Henry and I played hookey and snuck into the the Tim Burton show at LACMA on it’s closing day through the back door.
Driving around and at pick up the idea of costumimg up seems to inject a booster shot of creedance into the arm of the fashion show atmosphere of the day. Reality crumbles and bizarre reigns with a rumble between Captain America, Spiderman, Dorthy and Mario from Donkey Kong. I think that our culture of “we are all winners” is sadly mistaken. I think to myself that taking photos of what I’m seeing is like shooting ducks in a barrel. It’s just not fair.
Back home I look at our 5 boys who are making last minute canges to their costumes. They have the costume basket out and hanging from The Wolfman to Dracula is as easy as just changing a mask. Sam and Henry aren’t sure if they want to go over our friends house for dinner and go Trick Or Treating. Sam has a lot of homework and I can tell that Halloween just isn’t as enchanting as it used to be for him. Next year he’ll be wearing the costume of a college freshman. Henry paints his hair blue and says he’s Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
At our friends house I mix Bloody Marys and she makes lasagne. Ollie can’t contain himself. He wants to hit the streets in search of candy and frights. Sam decides to walk home by himself and finish his homework. We all make jokes about walking next to the cemetary. Henry disappears after gettingÂ text messages from his friends about his where abouts. Dean and I are down to 5 kids now. We make small talk about Game 6 of the World Series, our kids school and surfing. It’s quiet around Santa Monica tonight. It’s been unseasonably warm. There’s a fog bank perched off the coast waiting to come in any day now but the off shore breezes just wont let it. We can tell when the kids are tired and start running out of steam. My costume of a Canadian Tuxedo is now layered with a ninja mask and a cowboy hat.
Back home the effects of the sugar are winding down. There’s a grisly scene on the living room floor. It seems that The Wolfman and Larry from The Three Stooges have had a battle to the death. Â Simon has fallen asleep in the shower and Theo is having trouble removing his clown make up. Debbie has gone to sleep, Ollie is still counting his haul of candy and Henry is still getting text messages from his friends. Â I go downstairs. Sam is just finishing his homework. I settle in next to him as he turns on an episode of Dexter.
Now that I have your attention. This is not the picture. I don’t have the picture. The picture I’m about to describe is almost indescribable. Let me start…It was the last Friday in October. It was overcast and Â fall was just starting to make its presence known with clouds and cooler temperatures. I took Theo to Disneyland as part of his birthday present. Debbie has taken Sam and Henry to “The Park” for their 1oth birthdays respectively the past few years. So, It was my turn to go now. I’ve got to be honest with you. I wasn’t really looking forward to this trip. As much as I loved Disneyland as a kid, there was something I was dreading. Maybe it was the drive to Anaheim, the parking, the price of admission, the crowds, the bad overpriced food, or maybe it was the fact that they don’t serve beer at the Happiest Place on Earth.Â I went with our friend Dean (who said he would drive) and his daughter Mari who is in Theos’ class.
The sycamore trees on Main Street in Disneyland were beginning to drop their leaves as we entered the park and headed for Space Mountain. I’m beginning to feel good about being back at Disneyland as I fasten our seat belts for the ride. We “blast off” and the ride begins. Something is wrong with this space trip. It’s beginning to feel like a bad trip with horned devils, screaming ghouls, monsters and fire!. It’s like a ride through hell. We get off and the kids are sort of scarred, Dean and I look at each other Â scratching our heads saying, “This is not how we remember Space Mountain.” After some inquiries we find outÂ that because of Halloween, some of the rides have been “converted ” for the holiday. In this case Space Mountain has become The Ghost Galaxy. The Matterhorn brings us all back to realty and a sense of normalcy. Just the right amount thrills and twoÂ expected “Arghhhs!’ from the abominable Snowman. We’re having fun now. Even the updated Pirates of the Caribbean seems okay.Â As Dean and Mari look at the map of the park, plotting out what ride to go on next Theo and I are having a really nice time following along. I sort of just look at the map as say, “Yeah, that sounds great.”
As we enter the Haunted Mansions’ elevator I shepard Theo real close to me hoping he can feel my anticipation of what’s in store for us. You know, the elevator going down revealing the crazy family with the really long necks riding piggy back dressed in funny clothes wielding instruments of murder and mayhem. But wait, something has gone terribly wrong again! The narrator starts reciting lines from A Nightmare Before Christmas. Dazed, we are ushered onto the familiar people movers and into the Haunted Mansion ride. My childhood is being ripped out by it roots as we make our way through glow in the dark cut outs and cheap movie tie- ins. Sure enough as part of the Halloween celebrations, The Haunted Mansion has been “converted,” blendingÂ the settings and characters of the original Haunted MansionÂ with those of the Tim Burton movie.
It’s about a half hour before the park closes. The sun has just gone down and it’s getting chilly.We learn that Splash Mountain, which has been closed all day for maintenance is now open. We decide this is our last ride. Just before we get into our log flume vehicles I’m noticing that the people exiting the ride are pretty wet. Mari gets up front, Dean behind her, next is Theo and I’m sitting in the back seat of the log. I start thinking to myself that I don’t want to get wet so I take off my sweater and shirt and stow them in my bag. Dean turns around, sees me bare chested and cracks up as we shove off. The ride is over before we know it. I get dressed and as we start heading towards the exit we stop to look at the picture of us on the final vertical drop. It’s unbelievable! Dean up front followed by Mari and Theo with looks of outright fun frozen on their faces. I’m in the back, mouth wide open, my right arm is raised high and I look like I’m naked.Â We rush out toÂ buy the photo and the girl behind the counter says, “I’m sorry, I can’t sell you this photo. You have your shirt off.” I said, “You’re joking.” She says, “No sir, I can’t sell it to you.” Dean asks if he can buy the photo and gets nowhere with her, It’s like talking to one of the bears in the now defunct Country Bear Jamboree show.
On the ride home in a real car on a real freeway I ask myself what any of this means. You try to make some sense out of your childhood and the things you loved to do and how you enter those same situations now with trepidation and fear like a back flip on the high dive. I think about how I’ve changed. Strolling around the park I was looking for something to kick in- some comfort to come over me – some grounding in the made up magic which never really came until I saw Theo’s face and Theos’ smile.