Halloween

elton-johnI was in my early 20’s.  I had been invited to Dean Martin’s daughter’s Halloween party.  Yes, at her father’s house.  A big ass Beverly Hills home.  I planned to be Elton John.  The girls — Gina and Donna — who had invited me to the party were very close with Shaun Cassidy, and I was told Shaun owned Ziggy Stardust-style silver lame’ rock & roll boots.  I didn’t know him or what size shoe he wore, but I boldly called and asked to borrow them: “Hi, I’m Fredde Duke, you don’t know me but….”

I picked up the rock & roll boots at his mother’s house on North Oakhurst.  Found it on my Map to the Stars’ Homes.  Kidding.  I enlisted the wardrobe department where my dad had a studio deal to write “Elton John” in a sequined signature on the back of my satin, emerald-green man’s coat.  A friend worked for Bernie Taupin and Elton at Rocket Records, and he gave me a stack of unsigned Elton John headshots.  At the toy store on Beverly Drive, I bought a child’s baby grand piano.  By now I’m realizing it would have been a lot easier to go as Pat Boone.  Then I scored a man’s wig in Hollywood, but cut it at the crown to make me look like I was balding.  The piece de resistance was the blacked out Elton gap tooth.  Voila, I was suddenly a gay rock star!!!

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snickers.jpg I was a weird kid. I never ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My mother never had to tell me to straighten my room. And I liked Halloween more for the decorations than the candy.

Except for Snickers. I loved Snickers.

Something about the mix of sweet chocolate, sticky caramel, dense peanut butter nougat, and crunchy peanuts made me swoon. I still remember the house at 101 Pinewood Drive in our neighborhood that gave out the king size Snickers bars to every kid who came by on Halloween.

Bam! That big bar would hit the bottom of your plastic pumpkin. Then you'd have to center it, otherwise your pumpkin would lilt for the rest of the night. After you hit that house, it didn't matter how many Dum Dums or Tootsie Rolls you got.

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trickortreat.jpgWhen I think of Halloween, I think hot dogs.  People tend to find this association odd, some are even angered by it, but to me it feels perfectly natural.  When I was younger, my mother used to grill hot dogs in our driveway for the trick or treaters and dole out beer in red plastic cups to the adults, providing a bit of a respite for parents whose kids were running around the neighborhood injected with copious amounts of sugar. 

I was never much of a walker and I never got off on travelling in packs (why I live in New York I don't know), but even more importantly, I loved and still adore a good hot dog.  Essentially, this ritual made my Halloween quite perfect.

The ritual ended, sadly, when I moved to New York to go to college.  There are very few driveways in Manhattan, and there is a bar or a Gray's Papaya on every street corner, so if people need a beer or a frank, they are basically set year round.  Nobody shared my passion for hot dogs at Halloween, unless they were terribly after drunk taking too many orange jello shots at some themed downtown party, in which case that little beef wonder became something of a valuable commodity, a bonafide savior in fact.

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alienpizzasquaresWhen my kids are having a playdate there often isn't time to whip up a batch of cookies or other type of treat. Since most kids like pizza in some form, this is always a big hit.

The possibilities for themes are endless since you can use any cookie cutter shape to personalize this pizza into any thing you choose. Hearts for Valentine's Day, Christmas trees, candy canes, ghosts, shamrocks, you can even spell your child's name with alphabet cutters. Like I said, the possibilities are endless and always welcomed by the young people in our lives.

To make the alien faces, I used a pumpkin cookie cutter. I used capers for the eyes and basil for the mouth.

My boys and their friends loved it and they always feel special when I make this very simple after-school snack.

Make your kids smile today by making them this simple treat.

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spadena.jpg Jack Benny (who was famously cheap and made fun of himself for it) gave out silver dollars on Halloween.
                  True

Lucille Ball used to answer the door herself.
                  Also true

A witch lived in the witches’ house on Walden Avenue and gave out apples on Halloween.
                  Don’t know the answer because “the witches’ house” was so scary that none of us ever made it down the walkway. But the witches’ house wasn’t really a witches’ house. It was really offices and dressing rooms at a silent movie studio in Culver City before someone (don’t ask me why) relocated it to a corner lot in Beverly Hills in the 1930s and moved in.

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