I Didn’t Mean to Have a Spooky Sunday

June 30, 2015 — I didn’t mean to have a spooky Sunday. I’m not sure what did it. But I am blaming it on the Halloween Kit Kat.

Sunday I had an appointment for my current book project in New Preston, Connecticut, about two and a half hours from my house. Now, the book project is Halloween-flavored, so that might have at least contributed a mindset. Also relevant was that it was raining hard and the temperature was in the 60s—I’m talking real candy corn bowl and spiced pumpkin candle weather—despite the fact I was on the July edge of June.

So it was going to be one of those days. I had no clue it was going to be one of those days, though.

I first stopped at my local gas station—the one that between the gas and the snacks and the booze, I’m pretty sure takes more of my paycheck than taxes—to fuel up for the trip. While there, I picked up a roadtrip breakfast: Tabasco Slim Jims and a Coke Zero. At the counter, there was a couple of Halloween Kit Kats in a rack of otherwise in-season candy. The package was orange with black bat wings behind the logo and phrases printed on it like, “1 of 4 spooky bar designs” and “Dare to find what’s inside.” It was all I could do to not expand my definition of a roadtrip breakfast.

I didn’t buy one. But for some reason, I did take a picture. That was enough to tint my day, to send me off through the jack-o-lantern-shaped door in the forest. Because, 20 minutes or so later, I passed this:

Taken fumblingly through a rainy window at Interstate speeds. Like I said,
I didn't mean to have a spooky Sunday.'

We all have those in our towns, remnants of Halloween celebrations past. Or future too, I guess. But that’s when I gave in. It was going to be Halloween for the next few hours. I was alone on this trip, and needed something to occupy myself, anyway.

Now, the reason I have a Halloween mix-CD in my car is because, well, I have a bunch of CDs in my car. And the reason I have that is because I have a six-CD changer. That’s going to be gibberish to a lot of you, but just let me tell you that it really impressed the girls back in the day. My car turned a decade this year, and we’ve been on too many jaunts together for me to trade it in for something I can plug a smartphone into.

Most of the trip was bland highway, so eventually I wondered if I was forcing things. I mean, sure some old candy and an old sign and some unseasonable weather didn’t give me license to Fall. Plus I’d just done a Halloween Day a few weeks ago. This thought particularly invaded me once I left the highway and found myself driving around a random cemetery merely because Elvira was rapping about monsters over my speakers when I passed it.

So I got back in my ten-year-old car, sheepishly swapped out the CD for some Kris Kristofferson collection and drove a little farther. And saw this:

Now there were no reason for this pizza place to have a pair of skeletons and a cauldron-y looking black bathtub so prominently on their roof. None. It’s not part of their theme. Maybe it was left over from Halloween, but unless you’re a family-run convenience store at the bottom of New Hampshire doing a decent profit off my cash, that’s a business no-no. The only explanation is that I’d entered a Halloween zone. A parallel set of roads than the ones I started out on. Sure, they were taking me to the same place, just by way of October.

I mean, the only thing that would’ve made this more perfect is if one of the many farm stands and garden centers I passed had left out their pumpkin signs. Didn’t happen, unfortunately, but I did see a few monsters.

Like this lake monster:

And a minotaur:

Finally, I arrived at New Preston, which if you follow me on social media, you know is the town where they filmed almost all of Friday the 13th, Part 2. That’s the sack-headed Jason Voorhees, in case you’re not the scholarly type. The photo below is the town center, which 35 years ago was the exact setting for the scene near the beginning where the ill-fated Crazy Ralph warns the ill-fated teenagers of their doom and then their ill-fated friends play a trick on them by towing their car around the bend.

The site has changed only a little, a gas station and a phone booth are gone, and the stores are all antique shops now, but the basic geography of the scene is intact.

Most important, it was the perfect place to end a Halloween roadtrip. Someday I’ll tell you about the return leg, where I accidentally Christmas’d.