The night the skeletons came to life

Halloween is my second favorite holiday (live for New Year's Eve), but the Larbourd Oaks Mansion Ghost Tour left me with an awkward experience. Just after 10 p.m., I attended the adult tour where the guide informed us, "You can drink if you want, and you can say whatever the H you want." Some foul-mouthed guest, trying to be funny or get a laugh, was taking advantage of the no rules about swearing, and he ruined the tour. I felt sorry for the tour guide as it was probably the worst day he had at that job. The vulgar guest didn't really make any friends that night.

Back to my fun Halloween experiences - when we first moved to Hinsdale, I would relocate the cars onto the driveway and transform my garage into a haunted house during the entire month of October. Trick-or-treaters were required to wind through scary dark hallways and complete a haunted maze in exchange for candy. Ten percent declined and 2 percent would be legitimately frightened. My then-toddler assisted by donning a Chucky mask while seated/slumped in overalls. Appearing to be only a prop, my kid would jump scare innocent victims.

One Halloween, while adjusting the haunted garage strobe light out of sight, I heard a young kid repeating, "Not scary, not scary" in a disinterested cadence. As the little guy rounded a dark corner, I screamed out, "NOT SCARY?!" Visually frightened with a fight or flight decision, he chose both - immediately punching me in the stomach and running out of the garage.

I still dress for Halloween with a preference toward the obscure. Prior costumes included Christopher Walken's feverish record producer wanting more cowbell, Dwight's beet farmer cousin Mose Schrute, Richard Simmons enthusiastically "Sweatin' to the Oldies" in tank top and much too short shorts (awarded best costume at the Karstrand's soiree) and this year's Dangerous Nights Crew member (slicked back hair, white bathing suit, sloppy steaks at Truffoni's). Sure, I may sometimes push the Halloween envelope too far, but I wisely nixed last year's costume of the St. Louis couple protecting their McMansion from protesters. Pure speculation, but shouting, "Get out, private property" while waving a fake AR-15 likely would've deterred trick-or-treaters.

Thank you Hinsdaleans for going "all out" again this Halloween. My theory is that we attempt to transform the things we fear most into a celebration where we embrace the things we don't understand – like my favorite spooky song about the night the skeletons came to life:

The skeletons'll pull your hair

Up, but not out

All they want is another chance at life

They've never seen so much food as this

Underground doesn't have as much food as this

And the worms are their money

The bones are their dollars

So are the worms

They pull your hair up but not out

To turn into a man and have another chance at life

But if they pull it out they turn to bones

- Bret Conway of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist and a fan of "I Think You Should Leave" on Netflix. Readers can email him at [email protected].