Happy Halloween – Get Out The Map

Happy Halloween - Get Out the Map Stacey GustafsonSometimes you meet a person and you just click. I knew within minutes that I was going to be friends with Regina Stoops, whether she liked it or not. Maybe it was because we had shared the same sense of humor or the fact that she was just plain fun to be around. That was over two years ago.

Since then, we have raised money for charity through stand-up at venues throughout the East Bay, including Tommy T’s in Pleasanton and the Bankhead Arts Center in Livermore. Soon we discovered that we had similar goals too. She wanted to turn elements of her stand-up routines into a book. I wanted to give stand-up a shot, using my humorous short stories as material.

Today I want to share her writing with you.

Regina is a comedian, writer, MS Warrior and Autism Mom living with her wife and three kids in the San Francisco Bay Area. Click here to subscribe to her Normal Notes blog.

Happy Halloween – Get Out The Map

“This one?” the kid said.

“Wait, let me check the map, no not here, we need to go three more houses,” replied Mom.

This is my imagined conversation in the age of new and improved Trick or Treating. Now there is an app to manage Halloween, compliments of Nextdoor. For the uninitiated, Nextdoor is “the private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It’s the easiest way to talk with neighbors online and make all of your lives better in the real world.” Only it’s not the real world, it’s a tech version of the real world. Basically, it’s the modern version of hanging over the back fence to chat with the neighbors. You can find out the latest updates on what is happening in the “hood.”

Nextdoor for Halloween?

I joined a few years ago and found it useful for selling stuff, finding out who was not picking up their dog’s poop and pictures accompanied by, “who’s car is this? It’s been parked in front of my house for a week.” My favorite is when someone posts a question such as, “Does anyone hear that banging noise? What’s going on?” From that comes an onslaught of “I hear it too, I don’t hear it, I hear it near downtown, what’s happening?” No longer do you need to go outside, give a listen and cluster around with the neighbors trying to figure it out. Think an online version of Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched and you get the idea.

Nextdoor is now set on improving Halloween by posting a “Treat Map.” It invites members to indicate if they are giving out treats, hosting a haunted house, giving out allergy free/non-food treats or doing nothing. Each choice is marked by an icon on the map, including a blue pumpkin for gluten free treats. I’m not sure what the “do nothing” icon is, seems no one wants to own up to that option on a public platform. Not surprisingly, this handy map even has its own corporate sponsor.

A Sugar-Laden Halloween

In my days of trick or treating we were sent out to seek our sugar-laden fortune armed with only a pillowcase to hold the loot. No cell phone, no reflective costume, no flashlight and pretty much no boundaries. There was the inner circle of our immediate neighborhood, the next circle of houses farther out, and if we were daring enough, the unknown beyond. Halloween felt like an epic adventure and we were in charge of our own candy coated destiny.

The candy was earned; it wasn’t just handed to us. Ok, it was handed to us but we had to hunt it down without the benefit of a map. We came home when porch lights were turned off and the candy had run out. When our bags were heavy, we were tired and it was time to divide up the loot and start the candy trade negotiations.

A map that tells you where the candy can be found?

Halloween has changed greatly since my days in a costume and most of the changes are for valid safety reasons. But a map that tells you where the candy can be found? In the age of everyone’s a winner, there are no surprises and kids get what they want from overindulgent parents, Halloween is one of the few remaining mysteries. An exciting night of great anticipation and unknown outcomes. We have bubble wrapped, sanitized and scheduled most of the spontaneity out of childhood, but for the love of candy, let’s not micromanage Halloween.

Thrill of the Hunt on Halloween

Halloween night should be a rare chance for kids to wander the neighborhood, untethered to a screen; to use their critical thinking skills to decide if a house is worth the walk to the door. Where is the challenge of knowing ahead of time who is giving out treats? I have a vision of kids and parents walking along, eyes to a screen looking for the house with candy, skipping the allergy free house and the “do nothing” losers. Where is the thrill of the hunt? Sure, you might be disappointed with the house giving out stickers or ring a few bells and get nothing for your trouble, but those stops make the full sized candy bar score all the sweeter. Literally.

Nothing is guaranteed in life and Halloween is no exception. Sometimes you get a king-sized Hershey bar and sometimes you get a temporary tattoo. The more effort you put in, the more likely you are to score the big bar. As with most things in life, it’s often the adventure along the way that brings as much reward as the treasure you seek.

Join Me and My Friends at Tommy T’s Comedy Club Fundraiser March 1About Regina Stoops

Regina Stoops was born and raised in a town called Normal, though her humor is anything but. She has her own unique perspective on what most might consider the mundane details of ordinary life: raising three boys, being married (or not), aging parents, health care, navigating the world of special education, mini-van motoring and the grocery store.

Regina’s comedic ramblings take a look at an ordinary life and redefine what it is to be normal. Her unique perspective on life in the suburbs has made her a favorite at conferences, comedy clubs and fundraisers throughout the Bay Area. More can be found about Regina at www.ReginaStoops.com

Blog: https://www.reginastoops.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReginaStoopsComedy/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RMStandup

Are You Still Kidding Me?

Are You Still Kidding Me? Available Pre-Order Stacey Gustafson
Want more? Are You Still Kidding Me? is available now on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

What are reviewers saying?

“I love this book! Gustafson hilariously captures family relationships in a way that we can all relate! And her attention to detail really puts you in the story. Her “Bingo Ain’t For Sissies” had me giggling next to her at the table, eyeing all her mom’s lucky charms set out around her bingo card. With the holidays coming, be sure to pick up copies for your sisters, cousins, moms, grandmas and girlfriends. Gustafson doesn’t disappoint!”


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  1. Fun piece! I love Regina’s take on the world in general. Thanks for sharing! Hope you score the big bar! 🙂

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