Best Little Horror House in Sonoma

Given the annual rate of attrition of the kids who trick or treat my house, this year I expect, at most, two – the one’s from next door whose parents make them come over for the sake of being polite.

The low turnout baffles my wife who thrills at the sight of little one’s garbed as ghouls, scampering willy-nilly over the landscaping. But I know why we yearly loose a handful of trick-or-treaters. It’s not because they’re matriculating into more mature activities like egging cars or strafing houses with toilet paper. It’s because my wife is the brand manager of a natural foods company and subsequently loads up the kids’ sundry pillowcases, plastic jack-o-lanterns and the occasional Timbuktu bag with “healthy” snacks from her company. I can already hear the sigh(s) of disappointment. Halloween is the one time of year kids are permitted to take candy from strangers and my wife has to go on her one-women crusade to prevent cavities and childhood diabetes. What a witch.

I know, I know – kids should be so lucky. Back in my day, the healthy stuff was where the loonies did their dirty work. Remember the apple chock full of razor blades shown in X-ray on the evening news?

Those were the days, when madmen tried to kill you outright whilst the Mad Men sold us confectionary poisons that would take years to lethally clog our systems.

Then there was the Red No. 2 scare of 1976. Otherwise known as “amaranth,” the food dye was banned that year once it became apparent that it was a carcinogen. Thereafter, we had to get our red M&Ms on the black market of the schoolyard blacktop. Ironic that the dye, named for an imaginary, immortal flower referenced by Milton in “Paradise Lost” (Immortal amaranth, a flower which once / In paradise, fast by the tree of life…) was a suspected killer.

And to think that rock group Van Halen had a rider in its contract prohibiting brown M&Ms. Their lawyer must have been color blind.

A way to avoid M&Ms of all shades on the cheap is to window shop for one’s heebie jeebies. With my infant son, the Cannoli, strapped to me in his Bjorn, I sneaked a peek at the Sebastiani Theatre lobby which is presently in full Halloween regalia in honor of the resurrection of Witchie-Poo, the annual spectacle of spooks.

As I fogged the glass door, squinting at the entry strewn with cotton cob webs and other frights of blight, the four-month-old Cannoli expressed his approval by attempting to French kiss the glass, having just discovered his tongue, which remains too slippery for him to catch with his cocktail wiener fingers. Interestingly, if you say “horror house” while holding your tongue, “trick-or-treat” takes on a markedly different meaning.

Likewise, I’m advised by an informant that the foyer of Dr. Forsythe’s office is also done up in Halloween hues. The Cannoli and I never made it far enough down Broadway to visit (we were waylaid by a pit stop at my office, which, being a burgeoning media empire, is also a 700-square-foot diaper changing station). Consequently, I’m unsure if Forsythe’s deathly decor recalls a pet cemetery, in which case methinks the pet reaper should spell his name “For-scythe.”

And that, darling readers, is why they pay me the big bucks.

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack has also apparently undergone a Transylvanian transformation in time, I suppose, for its namesake restaurateur to cameo as a latter day Elvira when she hosts Sonoma Drive-In’s broadcast of “White Zombie” at 10 p.m., Saturday night on local Comcast channel 27 (hooray for educational programming).

Incidentally, White Zombie is also the name of a metal act which had a rider in its contract excluding all M&Ms except green ones, which allegedly have aphrodisiacal properties.

I, of course, will be home on Halloween night vainly attempting to distribute health food while slipping green M&Ms to my wife.

Trick or treat? Yes.