My Headless Horseman Head

September 3, 2021 — My favorite monster is the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. I think it’s because he’s a personification (monsterification?) of Autumn. Dracula, Wolfman, the Mummy, they all party pretty hard during the Halloween Season, but they are also divisible from it. Not the Headless Horseman. If his story doesn’t have a harvest party and a forest the color of Velma Dinkley, it’s not a Headless Horseman story.

But none of that explains why, last year, I painted the walls and ceiling of my bathroom black and then themed it Headless Horseman.

The answer to that question is…I’m still not completely sure.

It all started [wavy flashback effect] when my family of four girls kicked me out of the upstairs bathroom because there were too many people sharing it. I got the much smaller downstairs bathroom instead. Once it was “mine,” I felt like I needed to change it. At the time it was painted light blue with white curtains and was generally undecorated. Just a bathroom.

But at first, in my mind, change just meant paint it a warm color, get some nice towels with my monogram, install a bigger mirror. And then something flipped.

Sure, you could say I did it because I like spooky stuff, but we generally don’t decorate spooky, unless it’s Halloween. Sure the library has a headstone in it, and the kitchen a photo of one of our daughters posing with Steve the Vampire in Salem, and my study has a cardboard cutout of Vincent Price (my study is full of spooky stuff, but it’s not themed, it’s just my collection), but if we ever sell the house, you won’t see our real estate listing go viral.


I guess you could also chalk it up to pandemic lockdown boredom, but that’s not really true. The firepit in the backyard was lockdown boredom. This project was something else.

Whatever it was, I knew exactly what I wanted, which is rare for me. The whole room had to be black, even the ceiling (we have a vinyl floor with a red brick pattern, so that didn’t need to change). I knew I wanted a silhouette cling of the Headless Horseman on the shower door. My wife came up with the great idea of installing a color-changing LED in there so that it would have an orange backdrop. Now I know what I look like naked and glowing orange (I always wondered). I also knew I wanted to steer mostly away from pop culture depictions. No Sleepy Hollow movie poster, for instance. I also knew I wanted a stack of Sleepy Hollow books in there and a portrait of Washington Irving.

And I knew I wanted to swap out the white commode for a black one. Something that looked like it came out of Darth Vader’s powder room on the Death Star.

And then suddenly we had a Headless Horseman head. A Sleepy Hollow baño. It was done, although not technically finished. I’m hoping to find a few pieces of cheap and relevant Halloween décor this season. Because that’s kind of a great thing about this room. I can’t use expensive stuff because the steam from the shower will destroy it. That frees me to buy the cheaply made Halloween things with wild abandon.

So what’s it like to use the Sleepy Hollow bathroom? Awesome. Especially when I light a pumpkin spice-scented candle in it and the wind’s howling outside and all the frogs are croaking “Ichabod.” Now brushing my teeth is the most Halloween thing I do.

The all-blackness doesn’t feel claustrophobic (the bigger mirror and the window help). Although using a black toilet is tricky. I’ve had to get used to pissing into a void, and one time I pissed directly on the closed lid because a black closed lid looks exactly like a black open commode. At some point, I’ll need to install more light in the place.


The other beautiful thing about the bathroom is that since it’s on the first floor, it’s the one guests use. So if you visit me at the Black House, drink lots of water first, so that you can witness firsthand (and then wash your hands) the Sleepy Hollow Bathroom of Nashua, New Hampshire.