I don't know how long Ned and Greg, his best friend, have been collaborating together to turn Greg's house into a haunted house for Halloween. Greg is a tech guy. He has traveled with big name stars to light their big arena concerts and now he works big corporate shows in places like Las Vegas. So he knows electronics and gadgetry inside out. He and Ned have been doing ever-increasingly complex projects ever since they became friends in junior high school.
For the haunted house, they block off the back half of Greg's house and put scary displays in the windows of the front of the house.
Some are animated, some windows have a real person, in costume sitting, looking like the mannequins in the other windows.
But when you get to the window of the real person and he/she leaps at you, you scream (well, if you aren't expecting it, you do). One year Marta was a mad woman in one of the windows. You watch all the show while walking around the path that leads to the back of the house. There are strobe lights and things that hang and bump and blasts of air when you least expect them, and at the end, a ghoul to guide you back out onto the sidewalk.
We went over to check out this year's display and as we got out of the car, we could hear the screams of the kids who were going through the path. A mother and her costumed kids were standing on the sidewalk trying to decide if they were going to go in. She asked me if I knew the people that lived in the house and I assured them that I did and that it would be fine to go through the path.
When they started this project, Greg's kids were little. Now they are in high school and have learned enough about everything that they can run the show themselves, leaving Greg and the older folk to sit inside, have some hors d'oeuvres and soup and talk with each other. So we joined the "old folks" (who are our kids' friends) and settled in to visit.
Ned told me about the once in a lifetime experience he had on the night of the 7th game of the World Series. He and his friend Jessica had tickets for a Phish concert in San Francisco. Ned and Jessica are huge Phish fans and get to as many of their shows as they can. The concert was to be held at the Bill Graham auditorium, which just so happens to be underneath the San Francisco Civic Center plaza, across from City Hall, where the city had set up a Jumbotron and a million or so Giants fans were watching the game.
Ned, not being a sports fan, watched the game with their friend K.C., who also had tickets for the concert, but left at the 7th inning so he could get to the concert on time, leaving K.C. behind to finish watching the game with his family and then meet them at the concert afterwards. (I don't know how anybody could have left that game!)
Anyway, Ned and Jessica got to the concert and it started. Phish played one upbeat song and then started a kind of mellow tune. Ned said that what happened next could never have happened 10 years ago, in the years before smart phones. In the middle of the song, suddenly the entire auditorium erupted in a huge cheer--all those people who had been monitoring the game on their phones and jumping up and down, waving their arms in the air in the manner of a last act finale. Phish stopped the song they were playing and started playing "We are the champions," which everyone sang along to, swaying together, and when it finished, the band picked up the original song right where they left off, to louder audience cheers.
Listening to Ned tell it, it was obviously one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you just hadda been there to appreciate. He said that yes, K.C. had the thrill of watching the game with his family, but he missed the camaraderie of an auditorium filled with Giants fans and Phish fans and the moment when those two were in perfect harmony.