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Cyndi McCoy: Tricks aren’t just for kids

I could barely see through the dark, dank air of the church basement. As my eyes adjusted, darting from side to side, I could hear heels clicking slowly closer. My heart pounded in my chest as I fought to muffle my accelerating breath.

When the footsteps stopped, just around the corner where I hid, I knew my next move would have to be a careful one.

“Boo!” I shouted as I rounded the corner, but instead of the traditional chuckle from my victim, “Mrs. Potato” clutched her chest.



To scare or not to scare, that is the question. Growing up a small Irish girl, I learned that the hard way. I used to love to burst around corners to “boo” friends. That is, until one day I almost gave one of them a heart attack.

I was hanging out in the local church with the deacon’s wife, a mentor, inspiration and dear friend. She was probably in her 60s at the time. Being the ornery, fun-loving gal I am, I waited for my moment. Up until then, my surprise scares had reaped only the most obvious of startled responses.



She didn’t take it very well, and her cautious wisdom has stayed with me. The lesson: Don’t scare old ladies, and some people don’t like to be scared.

I’m just the opposite. I love to be scared in jest. I dig roller coasters, Elitch Gardens’ Tower of Doom, horror flicks, and pretty much everything there is about Halloween ” the costumes, candy, haunted houses and ghost stories.

To this day, my best friend from my school days and I swear we successfully conjured up the apparition of Abraham Lincoln. We’d regularly hold seances and we knew when her parents were messing with us downstairs (banging broom handles on the ceiling). But there was this one time when we invited the former American president’s spirit over for a spell. I don’t know what we were going to ask him when he showed up.

Her room had this little octagonal window and a thick fog began to take the shape out in the October chill. The top hat and beard were as clear as day. My friend and I turned to face each other to confirm that the other had seen it too. But poor ol’ Abe was left to entertain himself because we bolted for the stairs.

I haven’t conducted a seance in a long time, but I wonder what spirit I’d like to see show up, given the chance. It would probably be someone like Chris Farley or another actor, or a musician like Janis Joplin, or maybe Vincent Van Gogh (although I think I’d need a translator for him, and we’d have to talk into his good ear).

When you are out and about, wish the following people a happy birthday: Carla Lawn, Betsy Cook, Joy-Ha, Elizabeth Norman and Chad McCoy.

Food for thought: “There’s a full moon howling at the night, and it’s bark is much worse than its bite. So we must go out, and dance around. Yes we must go out tonight. … So the doctors came on the evening train with their flasks and their caskets and vials. Mass psychosis was the diagnosis, so we all cashed our checks and went wild.” – from Squirrel Nut Zippers’ “La Grippe.”

Boo y’all, and party responsibly.


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