By Dom Cioffi
I remember waking up one morning many years ago to my brothers making an awful commotion about something across the street. They were snickering and giggling under their breath, obviously trying to contain their excitement over a mischievous act.
After overhearing a few leading statements, I decided to have a look for myself. I meandered over to the window and gazed into the neighbor’s yard. What I saw seemed truly magnificent.
Like a glowing orb, a medium sized maple tree – beautifully shaped from yearly pruning – stood tall and proud in our neighbor’s front yard, devoid of any leaves, but completely enveloped in bright white toilet paper.
I marveled at the craftsmanship and attention to detail. It was truly a work of art; an epic combination of nature and industry. I honestly believed that our neighbor covered the tree himself as some sort of personal statement or artistic expression.
My brothers immediately set me straight, explaining that “TP-ing” or “toilet papering” was something you did to get back at someone you didn’t like. I had never heard of such a thing, but I was enraptured. It looked amazing to me.
But while covering a tree with biodegradable toilet paper was environmentally safe, the resulting mess was painfully inconvenient (I learned this after a downpour later in the day made an epic mess out of the situation).
“That’s what happens on Cabbage Night,” explained my brother.
“Cabbage Night?” I repeated. “What’s that?”
My brothers went on to explain that on Cabbage Night –traditionally the night before Halloween – kids engaged in all types of mischief, like throwing eggs or tomatoes at houses, soaping car windows, and TP-ing people’s yards.
“And it’s a great way to get back at mean neighbors,” my middle brother stated rather proudly. His answer was lost on me at the time, but years later the underlying message was clear.
Over the years I engaged in a few Cabbage Nights. I admit to tossing the occasional egg and semi-rotten tomato, and I admittedly TP-ed a yard or two, but I refrained from any truly damaging behavior.
When I got to college I learned that while the essence of Cabbage Night had universal appeal, the name did not. Many of the kids I went to school with referred to it as “Mischief Night” or “Devil’s Night.” Some of the kids from Canada referred to it as “Gate Night” while a few of the exchange students from England recalled it as “Mizzy Night.”
Whatever the name, the activities are always the same. And while it genuinely bites when you’re a victim of a Cabbage Night prank, more often than not it’s little more than a mild irritation. (Thankfully, as an adult, I’ve been spared a direct hit on Cabbage Night).
My son is now at the age where he’s a prime candidate for Cabbage Night mischief. I haven’t heard him making any rumblings about it with his friends, so maybe the allure of such activities has faded over time. Not to mention, these days waxing someone’s car is likely to get you killed – or ruin any chance you have at getting a job later in life.
I’ve asked my son about his plan for this Halloween and he’s announced that he isn’t really interested in trick-or-treating. I find this confusing given his love of all things sugar. Apparently, he and his friends are planning on going to the theater to watch a scary movie. This is also surprising since my son is as skittish as they come.
I was just about his age when I went to my first true horror film (which happened to be the original “Halloween”), released in 1978. Now, forty years later, a new sequel is being released.
The new “Halloween” is the 11th film in the series; however, this picture ignores all the other films and their unique takes on the survival of Michael Myers.
This “Halloween” sees the return of Myers and leading lady Jamie Lee Curtis, who reprises her role of Laurie Strode. After decades of suffering, complete with failed marriages and bouts of PTSD, Strode is forced to deal with the unlikely escape of Myers and his intent to kill her.
I’m well past the horror phase in my love of cinema so it takes something with a solid storyline and lack of camp or shock that catches my eye. “Halloween” does a solid job mixing an interesting story with edge-of-your-seat thrills, resulting in a horror film with wide appeal.
Check this one out if you’re looking for a respectable holiday film with plenty of reasons to feel uncomfortable.
A sweet “B” for “Halloween.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him [email protected]