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Halloweens I've Seen

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Halloweens I've Seen


Halloween, as explained to me early in life by my two older and wiser brothers, was for venting all the pent-up anger and frustration stored up during the summer tourist season. This made perfect sense to me even at the age of eight.

This condition was usually brought on by the absorption of stupid questions, either perceived or actual it didn’t matter. My third grade mid-term thesis happened to be a well researched dissertation on this very subject and earned me two weeks in “the corner,” prompting me to write yet another thesis on what constituted a ‘sour-puss’ which got me two more weeks in the same corner.

This is a very important process and deserves all the attention we used to give it. Venting, that is. If it weren’t for proper venting procedures normal folk would implode in time and become those sphincter-lipped personalities nearly everyone tries to avoid. (Like third grade teachers, for example.)

For me stupid questions most often came in the form of directions or rather, the need for some. And again, often as not, they popped out of people so far into their vacations that they couldn’t find their fanny with either hand. Now, of course, we have GPS devices and no longer need our hands.

I used to lay out some ridiculous, meanderin’ route around town to get inquisitive tourists to the motel they were already in front of and be standing there acting out of breath when they got back. I’d tell them, “Just wanted to make sure you found it!” Sometimes I’d even get a tip for bein’ such a diligent young man. I suppose I was directly responsible for a lot of extra gas consumption but it helped boost the local economy some as well. I made “Booster of the Year” in ‘64! I was twelve and so confident of my abilities that I could even get myself lost without much of a fuss.

I could write volumes on tourism studies I’ve either concocted myself or gleaned from different generations of seasonal employees. I had ready access to many of these characters and all I had to say was “What’s the most fun you ever had with a tourist?” One particular bartender we had loved to tell the unsuspecting traveler about “Nudie Tuesdays” up on the Firehole River or “Free Fishin’ Fridays” over at Fishing Bridge. I noticed he was always careful to find out whether or not they planned on coming back this way afterwards. He also liked to inform people that it was quite all right, and even encouraged by park personnel, to moon Japanese tour buses. Not anymore though, as I found out the hard way there’s been a change to that minor protocol. It seems the Park Service has lost some of its sense of humor.

Like I said, I could write volumes about tourism studies but this is one about Halloween, which is because of tourists. And also because this is October.

I used to observe my brothers prepare for Halloween starting after the 4th of July. They’d stash excess firecrackers, smoke bombs, M-80s, cherry bombs and just about anything else that might trigger a spontaneous bowel movement in the dark. Other important ingredients were toilet paper, bars of soap and new running shoes.

One year my cousin Willie got the bright idea to build a catapult for hurling toilet paper, having thrown his arm out the year before. Being an owner’s son of a family restaurant/bar/motel, I had access to plenty of ammunition. Together our efforts worked so well, in fact, that West Yellowstone was voted best looking strudel in Montana that year; a feat worth bragging about, I assure you. I suppose having more toilet paper per capita than any place else gave us an unfair advantage, though.

Soap was and has always been a great ‘marks-a-lot’ when it comes to venting (remember, this is a paper on that subject) and, there again, I had an unfair advantage. But not all that unfair, as there were something like 109 motels in town besides ours. These, by the way, offered up an absolutely astounding amount of windows to scribble and write on. In fact (I’m full of these, you’ll notice), during the annual ‘spring clean-up and toilet paper gathering competition’ of 1967, the resulting bubble fest turned Hebgen Lake into a bubble-bath that year and got Three Forks voted “Cleanest Little Town in Montana” and it was over 100 miles downstream! There again, I’ve always been happy to help out for a good cause and so have my classmates.

Still, my favorite and least mentioned of Halloween ingredients was a little different to gather up and keep secret until the big day: Grizzly poop.

Most of our town’s alleys were festooned with well-stocked garbage cans and these were also decorated, anytime after dark until just after the first hint of sapphire in the eastern sky, with fuzzy big Black Bear and Grizzly butts billowing from these cans with snorts of happiness muffling up from the depths.

Actually, I’d like to do a study of whether or not bears sing to themselves in this situation ‘cause it sure seemed like it to me when I was a kid. If you put a bucket over a kid’s head they will invariably sing, yodel or make farting noises, just for the echo they get back. Griz are just big, hairy kids normally, unless they’re mad, in which case you might wanna be somewheres else. And a lot like kids, Griz go poop pretty near where they eat. Needless to say, the early bird gets that last ingredient for a successful venting process.

Properly stored, like with your mom’s ‘seal-a-meal’ or equivalent, good, fresh and steamy Griz-biz will maintain its succulence for a long time, thereby letting you store it under your bed instead of in the refridgerator until you need it.

Now there’s something about human nature that absolutely mandates certain responses to given stimuli. One of these is stomping out paper bags on fire, especially on one’s porch, even if it’s full of warm scat.

Happy Halloween!

Editor’s note to children and those who act like children: this column is provided for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your favorite medical professional, mother or sour-puss, third-grade teacher,, all three of whom would probably not advocate any of these approaches to venting.


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Scott Clawson Scott Clawson No, he's not the electrician, he's the OTHER Scott Clawson, who's a quality builder when he's not busy busting a gut while writing his humor column for the first issue of each month, or drawing his Acres n' Pains cartoons.

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halloween, pranks, West Yellowstone

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