Tips For Surviving Spooky Season

Helpful advice from someone who has never once been killed by a vampire

It’s October, and that can mean lots different of things to lots of different people: pumpkin spice lattes and simmering pots of chili, the thrill of the World Series and the tradition of Big Ten football, a crisp bite in the air and crunching leaves underfoot.

It’s also, statistically speaking, the month when the vast majority of spooky, scary, supernatural and/or devilish happenings take place.

So, while you might being reveling in the cozy seasonal delights of this time of year, you can’t afford to let your guard down just because you saw a friendly ghost or a happy scarecrow or a smiling black cat. Based on an exhaustive and wholly scientific study of nearly 50 years of film, I have determined that you are nearly 217 times likelier to be murdered at an abandoned summer camp in October than you would be in June.

You have to be vigilant.

Fortunately, I’m a bit of an expert on survival. My credentials? Well, first of all, I’ve never been murdered. Not once! I have never been cut up with a chainsaw, impaled with a fisherman’s hook, eaten by zombies, drained of my blood by a vampire, mauled by a werewolf, cursed by an elderly man whose wife I ran over with my car, banished to a land of horrifying dreams, or slashed to bits by irony-obsessed teenagers. The worst thing that’s happened to me in the month of October was Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, and that itself just proves that even the worst curses can only last so long.

Listen: it’s hard out there right now. There’s a lot of personal safety guidelines you need to be following, and public officials are far to preoccupied with virus-based precautions to warn you about all of the other things you need to be doing to keep you and your family safe. So, being a public health hero myself, I’ve prepared my own Guide to Surviving October.

Cook With A Ton Of Garlic

You know what happens when you follow an online recipe written by someone with no taste buds who think that you should only put a single clove of garlic in a dish? First, you make crappy food. Second, you get killed by vampires. I’ve seen it a hundred times. No one wants be drained of their blood in front of a plate of bland chicken marsala.

You should be putting six cloves, minimum, in every dish. Even your cereal. If Nosferatu wants to take you, he’s gonna have to hunt you down in Flavortown.

Never Go To New England

Do you know how Stephen King has been able to write eight hundred books? Because he lives in New England. It’s not that he’s especially creative. It’s just that New England is crazy haunted. All he has to do is look around and be like “oh, check out that haunted [house/vehicle/carnival/animal]” and he’s got another best-selling book.

Why are you going to New England anyways? Do you like Dunkin Donuts so much that you’re willing to risk stumbling into a haunted cemetery? Well, guess what: there’s gas station coffee in other parts of the country, too, and far fewer evil sewer clowns.

Do Not Have Sex When You Are A Teenager

I did not get murdered as a teenager. I will leave you to make your own inferences here.

If You Meet A Formally-Dressed Child Who Seems Like A Strange Old Soul, Run

I do not trust any children who are not my own, and even then, I keep a close eye on them. Does the child display uncanny knowledge of things you would not expect an eight-year-old to know? Well, either they’re a gifted student or they’re the reincarnation of an executed serial killer who’s hoping to finish his murderous work on Earth. In both cases, you should avoid all contact with them. Can’t be too safe.

Do Not Buy A House That Was Built Prior To 1940

It’s going to be a maintenance nightmare. Lath-and-plaster construction. Knob-and-tube wiring. Foundation issues, lack of insulation, drafty windows, and it’s at least seven times as likely to play host to the ghost of a murdered Victorian child. Yes, the woodwork is lovely. But it’s simply not worth it. Stick to mid-century or later. I am an architect. This is an educated opinion: all old houses are haunted.

Don’t Let Anyone Bite You, Even If They Assure You That They Definitely Have Not Been Bitten By Zombies

Sure, you’d like to take their word for it, but I think better safe than sorry on this one.

Be Nice To The Social Outcast

First of all, this is just a good thing that you should do anyways. Everybody deserves a chance at friendship, love and respect, and being a good person is free.

If that friendship manifests in them being like “hey, I’m about to telekinetically seal the exits to the gymnasium this prom’s being held at and then light everyone on fire with my mind, you wanna step out and grab a Mr. Pibb or something?” Well, that’s just a bonus. Kindness is a two-way street.

If Your Friends Have Rented An Isolated Cabin In The Woods For A Weekend Of Fun, Show Up Late

Oh, guys, I’ll make it there on the third day, I’ve got to finish this big project at work. No, no, I’ll totally be there. Yeah, I’ll text you when I’m on my way. Just text me back and let me know if you need me to pick any beer [mumbling] and also to prove that you didn’t find a copy of the Necronomicon in the cabin and all die at the hands of demons you inadvertently summoned from a parallel realm [normal voice] or ice or anything!

But If You DO Find A Copy Of The Necronomicon—

There are actually a number of routes you can go here.

First, you could simply throw it in the trash. Just pretend it’s The Fountainhead and chuck it right in there. Can’t hurt me if I don’t read you, you old dead fool!

Next, you could donate it to a university’s library sciences department. They’ll know what to do with it, and academics love being haunted and tormented for years. It’s just like completing a dissertation.

Or, you could simply put it on the shelf and never actually read it, just like I have done with my copy of Infinite Jest. If anyone asks about it, you can just be like “oh, that? Yeah that’s the Book of the Dead. Have you read it? I’m partway through.”

Finally, you could simply sell it on eBay. There’s weirdos out there who’ll pay for anything, and USPS Media Mail is a surprisingly affordable way to ship books.

If You Are Offered The Chance To Be The Winter Caretaker Of An Isolated Resort, Say Yes

C’mon. Free vacation. What are the odds of that all stuff happening twice? I say do it.

Wear A Damn Mask

You know who makes it through October every year and keeps coming back? This guy.

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Keeps his nose covered and everything. That’s just considerate.

Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)