Halloween In Louisiana
Growing up in east Texas, I always assumed it was interchangeable with Louisiana. After I moved here, I realized how very, very wrong I was. Louisiana is its own little world, with its own unique customs and traditions. Which makes holidays confusing.
I’ve only been here since March, so the only real holiday I’ve experienced in Louisiana was Easter. (More on that here. Warning: contains Paqueing.)
This will be my first Halloween in the Bayou State, and I’m not quite sure what to expect. However, I have a few ideas…
Back in Texas, people put a huge emphasis on appearance. They might go up to their eyeballs in debt, but by god, they’ll have a nice house with a manicured lawn and the year’s trendiest holiday decorations. It’s kind of silly, really. But that’s Texas for you.
Things aren’t like that here in Louisiana. Nobody here seems to really care about what the neighbors think, which is refreshing. I don’t feel judged when I walk out to the curb in my bathrobe while wearing puffy cartoon slippers and black socks pulled up halfway to my knees to bring my garbage can in. Dadhood just kind of sneaks up on you like that, and I make no apologies for it. So it's nice that no one stares when I do it every single week.
Still, the lack of concern about keeping up with the Joneses does have a tendency to give a lot of the homes around here a very lived-in look. Lawns grow however which way they feel, weeds are encouraged to pursue their lifestyle goals, and peeling paint tends to be left alone out of respect for its privacy.
As a result, I can’t imagine how kids pick the creepiest house in the neighborhood to dare each other into ringing its doorbell. Because they’re all kinda creepy.
“Let’s go to the creepy house!”
“Um. Which one?”
Also, did you know the most popular Halloween candy in our state is somehow Swedish Fish? How does that even happen? Is it just because we love seafood and they look like fish, so whatever, let’s just shut up and cram some into our mouth holes between touchdowns at the LSU game. Laissez les bons temps roulez and all that.
This state is just plain weird.
I’m also not sure what people are likely to dress up as around here. I know there will be the usual cute cartoon character costumes and plenty of inappropriately “sexy” versions of cute cartoon character costumes floating around, but I’m interested in the scary ones. What really frightens people in Louisiana? Zombie Bobby Jindal returned from the political grave? The state tax collector, come to audit your flea market and garage sale receipts? Creepy Boudreaux down the street with the toilet in his yard? I dunno. Anything can happen here.
What if science somehow merged the 2016 candidates into one horrific monstrosity that violates the laws of both god and nature? How would you feel about that Halloween costume showing up at your door, looking for a handout? I mean, picture it: Donald Clinton. Maybe Hillary Trump. Either way, good luck trying to wash that image off your looking balls, America.
I'm trying to get into the sprit of the season, though. And I want to respect Louisiana culture as much as possible while I do it, so I asked a friend of mine the other day who grew up here about unique Louisiana legends, looking for spooky ideas to scare my stepson with. Things did not proceed as I expected.
Here’s how the conversation went:
I called up my friend, who I’ll call Tara because I’m not dignifying our conversation by using her actual name. After a few rings, she answered the phone. I could hear one of her kids crying in the background.
“Is this a bad time?” I asked.
“No,” she replied. “Willow’s just mad because Alexander broke her yellow crayon. What’s up?”*
(*It’s important to note here that this part of the conversation did not actually happen. I just wanted to insert a Buffy joke for the five or so people out there who are paying attention and might get it. What she actually said was, “Yeah, but I have three kids. It’s always a bad time. What’s up?”)
“Are there any monsters or urban legends unique to Louisiana that I could make up some stories to scare Trey with?”
Tara thought for a minute, then came back with, “Well, I guess there’s the Rougarou.”
“A rooga who?” I asked, totally confused.
She replied, “It’s basically the Cajun werewolf.”
“So why not just call it a werewolf?”
“Because that wouldn’t sound very Cajun.”
Still confused, I pressed on. “What’s Cajun about it, though?”
“Well,” she said. “It’s got a French name, for starters. It probably stalks you with Zydeco music.”
“I hate you.”
She went on, trying to be helpful. “There’s also the Grunch.”
“What does it do,” I asked, hoping she could hear the sarcasm in my voice, “steal Christmas?”
“No! It’s serious!”
“Okay, then. What is it?”
“Well,” she began, “it’s kind of like a chupacabra, but it could just be a vampire. Or some people think it’s a bunch of outcasts so inbred that they became a new species.”
“Now you’re just making this up.”
“It might also be the Devil Baby of Satan.”
“Want me to tell you about the Swamp Monster?” asked Tara, obviously toying with my emotions, at this point.
“Please don’t,” I said.
“They say it came from when a bunch of circus chimpanzees escaped.”
I sighed. “You’re just going to keep going, aren’t you?”
She laughed. “Yep! And, well, you see, what happened was all those chimps ran away from the circus into the swamp one day.”
“I don’t care anymore.”
“And they came upon a bunch of alligators,” she continued, ignoring me completely. I could tell she was enjoying this way too much.
“Please stop talking,” I replied. With desperation.
“Do you know what happened next?”
“No,” I said, defeated. “I really don’t.”
She giggled. “The alligators bred with the chimps.”
“I’m hanging up now.”
“And they made little Swamp Monster babies!”
I sighed, and hoped she felt it because I was doing it as hard as I could. “I suddenly want something very bad to happen to you.”
Having withstood all I could take, I let her get back to her crying baby and I hit up the internet, in search of some scary Louisiana stories.
I love it here.