In the movie, Judge Dredd, bad guy Armand Assante asks his prison warden, “What is the meaning of Life?” The warden has no answer. Assante says, quite decisively, “It ends.” Then Assante shoots the poor bastard in the throat. Quite an object lesson, eh?
Today is Samhain Proper.
It’s a different day from Halloween and, despite what you may have learned from Glenn Danzig or Donald Pleasance in Halloween II, it is pronounced sow-wenn, not sam-hayne.
Samhain is the day when we remember our ancestors. As summer fades and autumn takes it place, the veil between the worlds, the places where we walk and the dead walk, gets thin. Those who have passed on take this time to check in on the ones they left behind. We, in turn, honor and under the right circumstances, can talk with them.
You don’t have to believe it.
Sometimes, I wonder if I do.
Nonetheless, we are prepared for it tonight. Pictures of those who have beaten us to the punch, so to speak, litter two altars in our living room. We have set out their favorite foods. Peanut butter crackers. Vienna sausages. Popcorn. A PBR tall-boy for Cootie’s grandfather. I figure he can share it with mine. We’ve got fresh coffee, and even a little moonshine.
Ghosts can’t eat, you say.
It doesn’t matter.
These are things we remember about them, all part of the gigantic concept we refer to as “home.”
If you were dead, wouldn’t you want to go home, even if just for the night? As far as we’re concerned, this is another family get-together. We just can’t see everybody.
I wonder sometimes if my ancestors are disappointed in me. People put so much hope into babies, children. They invest their dreams and ideals into them, like emotional punchcards. It can’t be helped. I did it, too.
We do weird shit.
I didn’t turn out the way they planned, I’m sure. I made a lot of odd decisions and brutal choices. Everyone does, I suppose. Look back at the road you’ve walked up to this point. Look at your history. Trace it back. Is that path completely straight?
I didn’t think so.
Neither is mine.
Well, the fact is at some point, everyone’s crooked, curvy path ends. How does that song go? Oh, yeah.
We all end up in a tiny pine box.
A mighty small drop in a mighty dark plot.
And when the Earth turns and the stars align and all that great gobbledygook, and Cootie and I get to wander back on this plane from the excellent 1970’s dive bar we intend to spend eternity at, do us a favor.
Set us out something to drink. I’ll take some vodka and Dr. Pepper. Cootie might appreciate some brandy. None of that cheap shit, either. Play a movie for us. Three Amigos! would be good. We wouldn’t be upset at Suspiria, if the other isn’t available. Tortilla chips. A little queso blanco. We don’t ask for much. We’ll just come in and hang for a while.
Like I expect our grandparents and various aunts and uncles and cousins and nephews and nieces are doing at our place, right now. They’re just hanging out at the altar, checking out the spread and talking to each other, maybe taking a look around the apartment. True Grit is on the TV for Cootie’s Papaw. There’s fresh coffee.
If anyone wants anything different, I expect they’ll tell us.