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Dear Great Pumpkin,
Life ain’t fair, my giant gourd-like friend.
I’m sorry you never caught on like the big guy in the red suit or the bunny with the basket of eggs, or—dare I say it—that scrawny little tree of other Peanuts fame. But frankly, Great Pumpkin (GP), you’re all we’ve got when it comes to an overarching mascot for October 31, so I’m going with you for this obligatory Halloween letter.
GP, I am not messing around this year.
I’m taking out the minimum number of Reese’s/Kit Kat/Butterfinger required for personal consumption before all the little Halloweenies come over banging on the door with their “Trick or Treat” and cute little Barbie/Anne Boleyn/James Traficant costumes and all the rest of it. If we run out of candy before 8 p.m., it’s tough toenails. I’m locking the doors and shuttering the lights. My personal stash is exactly that: mine. PEOPLE HAVE TO HAVE LIMITS.
Okay, maybe it’s not a “limit,” but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Furthermore, GP, just because I put down the sauce, it doesn’t mean I’ll stop handing out Dad Pops along with the Snickers et al. “Dad Pops” is how I think of them even if they’re really for anyone over 21 who’s traipsing around with a bevy of fun-sized anarchists in various disguises.
I may be the last woman in America to keep a tub of iced Pabst Blue Ribbons (and even a few of those insufferable hard seltzer thingies) by the door on Halloween and I certainly intend to go out of this world with that distinction intact (I swear you people are going to miss me when I’m gone).
But if I were to fantasize about sipping an adult beverage on All Hallow’s Eve, GP, I’d like to fancy myself doing so at the Cabaret de L'Enfer, (Cabaret of Hell). Located right next to the Cabaret du Ciel (Cabaret of Heaven) where godless heathens like me would have feared to tread, both establishments were razed in the 1950s to make way for a supermarket.
So the Cabaret of Hell, sadly, has been gone nearly three-quarters of a century, but a girl can dream (I still get weak-kneed at the very thought of Yul Brynner and he's been dead since 1985. Don’t even get me started on Ricardo Montalbán).
Had I been in my prime in the early 1900s when these photos were shot in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris, I would have taken up residence inside the Cabaret of Hell on a regular basis. I’d like to think I could have gotten a job sashaying around with a tray of bubbling goblets filled with mysterious brew. If that didn’t work out, I’d be plenty happy by myself in a back corner, sipping a large glass of blood and peering out at the rest of the patrons from between the long witch-like strands of my black and gray hair.
As you can plainly see, GP, I’d fit right in. After all, those tortured souls screaming silently from the ceiling (at least I think they’re screaming?) look like many of the tortured souls I see every time I step into the discount grocery.
For a more full-throated description, however, I’ll defer to the 1900 volume, Bohemian Paris of To-day, by W. C. Morrow & Edouard Cucuel, where we find the following record of a visit to the Cabaret de L'Enfer.
A little red imp guarded the throat of the monster into whose mouth we had walked; he was cutting extraordinary capers, and made a great show of stirring the fires. The red imp opened the heavy metal door for our passage to the interior, crying,—"Ah, ah, ah! still they come! Oh, how they will roast!"
Satan himself strode into the cavern, gorgeous in his imperial robe of red, decked with blazing jewels, and brandishing a sword from which fire flashed. His black moustaches were waxed into sharp points, and turned rakishly upward above lips upon which a sneering grin appeared.
Red imps were everywhere, darting about noiselessly, some carrying beverages for the thirsty lost souls, others stirring the fires or turning somersaults. Everything was in a high state of motion.
Now I really want to sit in there and laugh maniacally with Satan and his darling little red imps.
Oh hell’s bells, even with all your powers, GP, I don’t think you can transport me back in time 100 years. As I said in the opening of this letter: life ain’t fair, so no Cabaret of Hell for me.
Instead, howzabout we crack into the Reese’s a couple days early?
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