Halloween Die-ary: October 24, 2018

Today I did two things that I wouldn’t usually do because Halloween forced me to: Go to Burger King and watch The Goldbergs.

Actually, the big news today was bringing the baby home for the first time and seeing her little pumpkin beanie up against the jack-o-lanterns in the fireplace and the five members of my family all sleeping under the same roof for the first time in two days while the ghoul blinked its purple light through our windows from the front yard. It was great and awesome and beautiful, but let’s get back to fast food and sit coms.

Burger King’s Nightmare King sandwich debuted on Monday. It’s a Halloween promo item: A sandwich with an emerald green bun bun-ending a beef patty, piece of chicken, and bacon. It’s a three-animal sandwich in watermelon-rind-tinted buns. The angle on the name is that eating one is supposed to give you nightmares. It’s a brilliant angle for a Halloween food item.

I’m not a Burger King guy, but I have such a fond memory of its 2015 black Halloween Whopper that I was of course going to try to relive that moment in green this year…and hope for nightmares. I always hope for nightmares.

Today was the first day I could get to a Burger King because of our recent nativity, so I grabbed my two oldest kids (still sounds strange phrasing it like that) and headed for our nearest BK under the auspices of giving Lindsey and the new baby a break from the constant pleas of, “Can I hold her?” “Can I dress her?” “Can you put her on my back so I can ride her around?” Plus there was all the stuff my two kids kept asking about the baby.

We walked up to the counter, and I ordered a kid’s meal for my youngest and a couple of Nightmare Kings and Scary Black Cheery Fantas (those words came out of my mouth, readers) for me and my always-game-for-something-new eldest.

“We’re out of toys for the kid’s meal, and we don’t have the Nightmare King.” The answer was a lot more incoherent and embarrassed and apologetic than that wording suggests, but that was the gist.

I looked around in confusion at the no less than six posters plastered to the windows showing the green monster beneath a witch’s claw. “Ok. We’re going to go somewhere else, then,” I said. My answer was a lot more incoherent and demoralized and uncomprehending than the wording suggests, but that was the gist.

The second closest BK to us also had posters for the Nightmare King in just about every window. “We don’t get those ’til next week,” this cashier said, his head surrounded in a nimbus of Nightmare King ads on the menu screen behind him. It felt like a bluff. Next week has only three October days in it, and this thing slinks back into the shadows November 1.

Part of me wanted to keep chasing the Nightmare King. Head to a third Burger King in southern Nashua and then beyond into Massachusetts until I got my hands on its Frankenstein wrapper and my phone camera on its mold-green bun. Embark on a quest. But we were getting actually hungry at this point (as opposed to gimmick-hungry) and my kids don’t get the, “This will make a cool blog post” rationalization yet. I’m working on them.

So we grabbed some non-Halloween food from Chick-fil-A, and headed home for a special Halloween episode of The Goldbergs on ABC

The Goldbergs is a family sitcom set in the eighties and based on the nostalgia of its creator, Adam Goldberg, and by extension the rest of us who grew up in that decade. I hate this show. The experience for me is akin to sunbathing on a giant, scalding cheese grater. Every character is annoying. Every story is trite. Overall, it’s just bad—not banal, bad—even when grading it on a sit com curve. So to get me to watch an episode, they had to try something great.

Like writing in a Halloween episode featuring Robert Englund as Freddy Kreuger.

The episode was awful and clichĂ© and everything I thought television had stopping being, but, man, was it good to see Englund as Kreuger on the screen again. Keep in mind, he hasn’t been the Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs onscreen since 2003’s Jason vs. Freddy. And the show used him cleverly, even if it was only really for a single scene. Still, it was The Goldbergs that brought him back. The Goldbergs!

I give them much credit for that. But also just for trying something interesting for its Halloween episode in a time where every show has a Halloween episode and every one of them is just an excuse to throw cast members into costumes and make easy jokes (which this episode of The Goldbergs also did, of course, in addition to resurrecting Freddy).

And that was my day. I mean, some other things happened. I received a couple of posters from this year’s Salem Horror Fest as mementos of my involvement as a speaker. Coast to Coast AM Radio asked me to guest on its show this Saturday. I saw the scarecrows of my town’s annual scarecrow competition crucified to light poles along Main Street.

But, all in all, it was a weird day that could only ever happen during a Halloween Season.