Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Halloween (page 1 of 2)

Gluten-Free Halloween


Andy opens the door to greet a little boy and girl, both dressed as superheros.

Little Boy/Girl: Trick or Treat!

Andy: Hello, there! Ooh, what cool costumes. I recognize you, Batman. I mean Batgirl.

Little Girl: I’m not Batman or Batgirl. Why is it so important for you to identify me when gender is a societal construct? I consider myself a gender neural Bat Individual.

Andy: OK. And how about you, young man. I don’t recognize your superhero costume.

Little Boy: That’s because I’m an anti-hero, Alexander Petterssen.

Andy: I don’t know him.

Little Boy: Jesus. Haven’t you read any of the dystopian graphic novels by the Norwegian artist Gustav Slettemark?

Andy: Uh, no. (calling loudly) Bridget, do we have treats for our young guests?

Bridget comes to the door carrying a large tray with nine different bowls containing a variety of choices of treats for the kids.

Bridget: Here you go. Pick the one that best fits the needs of your dietary and religious restrictions, and political leanings. For the regular kids, we have Snickers with Almonds. But if you have a nut allergy, this second bowl contains nut-free Tootsie Rolls. This third bowl contains gluten-free gummi bears. The fourth bowl contains sugar-free lollypops. Bowls five and six have candy imported from Israel and Egypt, and are kosher and halal. Bowl seven contains organic and fair trade chocolate from a company that we researched online, so we know is supporting sustainable agriculture and worker health and rights. Bowl eight contains candy from a chocolate company with no national or international links to the Nestle Company, the Occupied Territories, or any stockholders who donate to the Republican Party. Finally, in bowl nine, for those kids who have reinterpreted Halloween as a Harvest Festival promoting healthy and natural living, we have individually wrapped leaves of kale.

Andy: So, Bat Person and Alexander Petterssen, which treat do both of you want to take from us?

Little Girl: We both want the kale.

Little Boy: Yeah. Is it pre-washed?

Bridget: I think so.

Little Girl: We’ll wash it again, just to make sure.

Andy drops the kale in their trick or treat bags, and the kids run off. Bridget plops down on the couch, exhausted.

Bridget: You know, the kids in our new neighborhood are kinda assholes, don’t you think?

Note: Despite the joke, I will be giving kids two choices this year — Snickers with nuts, and Skittle for those with nut allergies. Why not?

Real Writer: Halloween Story, 2013

“Do you know what makes a piece of writing go viral on the web?” he asked. He was the managing editor of the site. His name was Ed. He wore a gray cardigan and a Yankees baseball cap. He was ten years younger than me.

“People can relate to it,” I answered.

“No,” he said, with a definite note of sarcasm. “It’s the TITLE of the piece that matters. The headline. Think The Huffington Post. Jezebel. Buzzfeed. It’s the hook that screams, “This is going to get your blood boiling!”

“I understand,” I said meekly. I have a master’s in media and communications. I once did a research paper on….”

““I don’t care what you did in school,” he said. All I care about is finding a writer who can grab a reader by the throat and say, “Listen to me, you f*cker, and share this with your friends. Can you do that?”

“I think so,” I lied.

“Listen. You ever see the movie “Network?””

“Yes, I actually once did a school presentation on the director, Sidney Lumet’s use of sound editing….”

“Yeah, yeah, anyway – here’s this news anchor played by Peter Finch who’s telling others to stick their heads out of the window and shout – do you remember what he said?

““I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!””

“Right. But now it’s the digital age. People don’t want to open up their windows anymore and see their ugly neighbors. They want to be angry AND anonymous.  That’s what the internet is about.   So that’s where we come in. We tell our readers to shout, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore, so I’m going to share this web article with you on your Facebook stream!” And that’s how we make our money. And the more controversy, the more hits, and the more money we both make.

“I see. When do I start?”

Ed was still not convinced. He told me that the CEO, Katherine Collins, one of the most important media personalities in the city, only wanted to hire writers with “brass cojones.” And he wasn’t sure that mine were metallic enough. So he decided to give me a take-home test. In twenty-four hours, I was to email him a list of a hundred knock-out headlines that would produce viral posts, articles in which I could say – with certainty – that 55% of all my Facebook friends would share with others.

I stayed up all night that day, working hard, pushing my brain to the limit. I pored over hundreds of online newspapers, from Boise to the Bahamas, searching for creative ideas that could be easily repackaged as click-worthy stories.

A week later, I was back across from Ed, this time in a large conference room. Other staff members also sat around me in a semi-circle, like I was a product being examined for purchase. We were all waiting for the arrival of Katherine Collins, the CEO.

Katherine finally waltzed in, carrying a latte from the DUMBO coffee shop across the street. She wore a black and red checkered dress that looked like tablecloth from a 1950’s Italian restaurant, and an orange Hermes scarf.

“We like you, Neil,” she said to me as she sat in the nicest chair in the room, a $4000 Henry Alcott-designed office chair that I once remember seeing in an Architectural Digest magazine at my dentist’s office. “We like your writing a lot.”

Katherine pulled out a copy of my headline ideas and held it in her left hand. Her fingers were thin, and adorned by three multi-colored rings. She looked over each of my headlines, nodding in approval.

“These headlines are excellent,” she announced. “Some of these we could use immediately. Very current. On trend. Social Media friendly.”

She started reciting them out loud to her staff. I took pride in hearing such a prominent media figure speaking my words.  It was like hearing Patrick Stewart at the Old Vic reading the poetry I once wrote in college.”

“Headline number #1 – “Is Going to a Tanning Salon as Racist as Wearing Blackface?” Yes! Yes! Very good.”

“Number #2 – “Why Noisy Children should be Banned from Riding Public Transportation.” Ed, let’s go with that one tomorrow. Breeders people will be outraged.”

“Number #3 – “Which Asian Man is the worst in bed – Chinese, Japanese, or Korean?” “Tricia, you’ve had sex with a lot of ethnic types, Trish. You should write this one.”

“Number #4 – “Let’s Be Honest. Poor People ARE Losers!” Ha Ha, love it!”

On and on she went, each headline getting more accolades than the last.

“Ten Ways Transexuals Are More Attractive to Straight Feminist Women than Short Men.”

“David Schwimmer Ogles Breast-feeding Co-Star!”

“I’m a Mother of Six and Still Have Great Abs!  What YOU are doing Wrong!”

“Which Professional Gets Less Respect – Male Prostitute or Daddy Blogger?”

“Scientists Find Leading Cause of Global Warming: Working Women”

“Which First Lady was the Biggest Bitch – Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Nancy Reagan, or Martha Washington?”

“Men Who Re-Attached Their Foreskin: Why It Was the Best Thing They Ever Did for Their Careers”

By the time she finished reading my list of headlines, the entire room was up on their feet, giving me a standing ovation.

“You’re hired,” she said.

I had arrived. October 30, 2013.

If under Jewish law, a boy becomes a man when he reaches age thirteen, it was on October 30, 2013 that I became an adult.

That night, I took my mother out to the T-Bone Diner for a steak dinner special. I ordered us a bottle of wine to celebrate the occasion.

“I’m so proud of you,” said my mother. “After years of struggling, you’ve finally found a way to focus your creative energy into something useful. One day, you can even move out and get your own place.”

“Move out?” I spat, worried.

“It’s time, Neil. You’re a writer now. A REAL writer.”

She was right. A real writer doesn’t live with his mother. I imagined myself living in a cool brownstone in Williamsburg, spending my evenings at upscale beer gardens, flirting with dark-haired fashion bloggers.

I went to bed — a happy man. As the clock struck midnight, I made a note to myself to remember to buy candy for Halloween. I decided to buy M&M’s, my personal favorite, expecting a lot of leftovers. Over the last couple of years, there have been fewer and fewer kids stopping by, with scared helicopter parents preferring the safe environment of trick or treating at the shopping mall on Queens Boulevard.

“I miss old-fashioned Halloween,” I mumbled to myself as I began to doze off.

And that’s when I heard the mysterious footsteps. They sounded half real, half imaginary. I thought I felt a presence in my bedroom.

Was I dreaming? I sat up in my bed. Clearly, I was still awake. There was no sound of footsteps, only my breathing, and the blood racing through my veins. I figured it was that cheap bottle of red wine I drank at the T-Bone Diner playing tricks with my nervous system.

The room was dark, black.

“As black as blackface?” asked a deep voice.

Huh? Who? What?

A glimpse of moonlight slid thorough the venetian blinds, and I caught a shadow passing. I turned on the reading lamp on my side table; it flickered yellow and I saw the figure — a minstrel performer from the 19th Century.

“Hello there, writer. You must be very proud of those titles you handed in, aren’t you? Especially “Is Going to a Tanning Salon as Racist as Wearing Blackface?”

“I must still be asleep,” I thought to myself. “Act rational. Think clearly. There are no such things as ghosts. Definitely not ghosts who are minstrel performers.”

“I thought that headline was actually quite clever.” I said to the minstrel, hoping to scare him off with an oratory technique I learned during my tenure with my high school debate team. “Racism riles everyone up on Facebook, and I think that article will get quite a few hits. It’s playing with our concept of racism for the good of society – in order to rid us of our biases!”

“That’s bullshit, Neil.” He said. “Your debate team wasn’t very good, was it?”

“No,” I answered.

Just then, new figures appeared — three men, ghosts of Asian descent, one Chinese, one Korean, and one Japanese – although I couldn’t figure out which was which because they looked pretty much the same.

“And what about that ridiculous headline that exploited Asian stereotypes?” asked one. ““Which Asian Man is the worst in bed – Chinese, Japanese, or Korean?”“

“Oh, come on. “ I snapped. “Don’t take offense. It was just a gimmick to create some controversy, exposing our own sexual and ethnic generalizations through irony.”

One by one the other references from my clickbait titles materialize from nothingness – the noisy kids, the transsexuals, the gays, the mommybloggers, the SAHMs fighting with WAHMs, the child-free, the breeders, the breast-feeders, the feminists, the Daddybloggers upset at being left behind, the bullied and the bullying, the right wing and left wing, David Schwimmer, and even Martha Washington!

I took a deep breath. I knew what was happening — my unconscious was taking over, as Freud has theorized in his work, and my dream state was metamorphosing into an expression of repressed guilt. I didn’t pay for therapy for nothing.

“I’m not afraid,” I announced to the growing group of ghostly individuals crowding my bedroom, growing frustrated with the noisy bratty spoiled kids of the mommybloggers who were jumping up and down on my bed. “I’m not going to feel sleazy about my new job. It’s not the same as when I put that advertising banner on my blog and I felt like a sellout. There’s nothing wrong with making money with my art, even if I have to come up with these salacious titles. This headline writing technique is nothing new. It’s been going on forever. Read a newspaper from the 18th century. Or the cover of a pulp novel. It’s how you become a writer. A REAL writer.“

A breast-feeding mother stepped forward, shaking her head in dismay.  I couldn’t stop staring at her amazing rack, despite the baby attached to one of her nipples.

“Yes, Neil ,” she said. “But when you become a real writer, you have to accept REAL consequences.”

“Consequences?” I laughed. “You mean these guilty feelings? My conscience? Who gives a shit? I’m getting paid now. Real dinero. Mucho shekels. No more writing for exposure at the Huffington Fucking Post. I’m going to be a success now. I’m going to be a media person. I’m going to get my own apartment. Joyce Carol Oates – a real writer — is even going to follow me on Twitter!”

“Oh, but you are wrong, Neil.”

It was Joyce Carol Oates, the esteemed writer and Twitter personality, or at least a ghostly doppelganger of the still living person.

“Writing is a sacred art,” she continued. “And real writing has real consequences. Especially on Halloween.”

Joyce Carol Oates stepped aside to reveal someone behind her – a woman with a familiar and friendly face. It was my dear mother, wearing her favorite pajamas that she bought last year at Marshall’s. I immediately felt a sense of relief, of maternal comfort. But my mother was not alone. She was standing next to an older man in a dark coat, black hat, and sporting a thick grey beard. He was carrying a black leather satchel. It was the rabbi from the synagogue of my youth, the heavily accented man who acted as the mohel at my own bris, my ritual circumcision.

“Mom, what’s going on?” I asked.

“I want you to be happy,” said my mother. “And wasn’t it you who wrote the headline — “Men Who Re-Attached Their Foreskin: Why it Was the Best Thing They Ever Did for Their Careers.”

My mother reached into the pants pocket of her pajamas and pulled out what appeared to be my foreskin.

“I’ve been saving it all these years in a Tupperwear in the kitchen.”

The rabbi opened his satchel, removing a sharp knitting needle and a spool of green thread.

“I’m sorry, Neil. On such short notice, I was only able to find green thread. But your schlong will be a big hit on Saint Patrick’s Day.”

“No. No. No.” I said as I tried to escape. But it was too late. David Schwimmer and the minstrel singer forced my arms down, while the transvestite and Martha Washington held my legs tightly to the bed. The three Asian men laughed loudly, and cursed me in three Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

“It’s time, Neil,” said Joyce Carol Oates, as she pulled off my blanket, revealing my nakedness. “It’s time you felt what it’s like to be a REAL writer.”

I screamed, a cry for help that would have raised the dead at the Mount Hebron cemetery several blocks away on Main Street, if only they could hear me. But there was only silence in my bedroom, because my own dear mother had muffled me with my pillow.

Happy Halloween!

Explaining Halloween to Foreigners

I was sitting on a bench in Los Angeles when I saw two college girls walking down the street.   Why not take an instagram photo of them?   As I pressed the button to the cameraphone, I saw one of the girls looking directly at me.

“Aw, crap. Caught,” I thought.

But it wasn’t what I thought.   They approached me, singling me out as a potential victim.

“Hello,” said one of the girls in broken English. “We are ESL students from Japan. Our assignment is to find an American person on the street and ask him questions about the American holiday of Halloween. Can we impose on your time and ask you questions?”

“Sure!” I answered, always a strong believer in helping strangers in a strange land.

They bowed to me, then giggled.  I was touched, and confused.

The more extroverted girl, with long brown hair and large glasses, stepped forward.  She was holding a piece of paper in her hand.  It was her homework sheet.   On the sheet were Halloween terms they needed to learn.

“What is Trick or Treat?” she asked, pointing at question #1.

I was frankly surprised that these girls were so clueless about Halloween. Doesn’t the world watch Charlie Brown?

Trick or Treat.  How was I suppose to explain Trick or Treat to two girls with a limited knowledge of English?

“Well, you know kids go house to house on Halloween and get candy, right?” I asked.

“Yes,” said the extroverted girl. “You get candy on Halloween.”

Perfect.  I was half way there.

“The candy is the “treat.” I said.   “But if the person doesn’t give a treat, then you are allowed to do a “trick.””


“It’s like a joke.   If you don’t get any candy — the treat — then  you are allowed to do something like put toilet paper all around the person’s car — the trick.  You understand?”

The two girls exchanged confused glances, not getting the toilet paper reference.

“It’s an either or thing.    If there’s no candy for kid… then the kid can do something back.”

“Out of anger?”

“Well, it’s not really anger.”


“OK, somewhat…”

“So if no candy, the child shoots person with gun?”

“No. No!  Not so extreme!” I insisted.

Is this how the world views America — shooting each other over candy?

“Just a funny trick,” I continued.   “Like toilet paper on the car! Understand?”

They didn’t understand.  I gave up.

“Let’s go on to the next one,” I suggested.

It was Jack O’Lantern.

OK, Jack O’ Lantern.   This would be easier.  And less violent.

“Do you know a pumpkin?” I asked the girls.

“Pump it?” asked the shy girl, the first and only time she spoke during the entire conversation.

“No.  A pumpkin?  The big orange thing.  The vegetable.  It grows in a pumpkin patch.  Like on a farm.  Like in Charlie Brown.   Big.  Orange.”

“Oh, yes.  Big Orange Vegetable.  Pumpkin.” said the extrovert.  “That’s Jack o’Lantern?”

“Not exactly.   The Jack o’ Lantern is what you make from the pumpkin.  The face.”

“The face?”

I pointed at my face.

“People make a face on the pumpkin.” I said.   “With a knife.  They cut out a face with a knife.”

The girls looked horrified.

“They cut people’s face with knives?”

“No. They cut the face out of the pumpkin.”

I made a cutting motion with my hand to better explain things. They moved a foot away, as if I was brandishing a samurai sword.

“How many more questions do you have?” I asked, feeling hopeless.

“Just one more,” said the extroverted Japanese girl. “Superstition.”

“Ah, yes. Superstition. Superstition is when people believe things that are not true.”

No reaction.

“Every culture has superstitions. In Japan, do you avoid walking under ladders or black cats?”


“I know there are ghosts in Japan.  I’ve seen Japanese movies about ghosts.”

“Yes, ghosts in Japan!”

“Do you believe in ghosts?”


“But some people do. That is superstition.”

“Superstition is ghosts.”

“Well, it can be.   But more than just ghosts.  Could be zombies, too.”

“So, all Dead People?  On Halloween, Americans dress up like dead people.”

I was getting bored with the conversation.

“Yes. Exactly,” I said.  “We dress like dead people.”

I sent the girls back to their ESL class, clutching their notes,  thinking that in America, the holiday of Halloween means dressing up as dead people, stabbing each other in the face with knives, and shooting those who don’t give you candy.

Happy Halloween!

The Old Parsons Tree in Flushing: A True Halloween Story

If you visit my apartment building in Flushing, you would notice an oddly shaped garden apartment right across the street, sitting on a tiny, rectangular plot of land.  The architecture of the building makes no logical sense at first; you have to accept that Mrs. Vanello, who owned the liquor store on Kissena Blvd for twenty years, also owned this property, and despite the wishes of the community-at-large, wanted to build her home there.  The original plans called for a normal, rectangular-shaped building, but the untamed plot of land, which we liked to ironically call “The Forest,” contained an important part of local history — a tree dating from the Revolutionary War.

This tree represented an important part of my childhood. Until several years ago, this tiny plot was completely covered with ungroomed, tentacle-like weeds and plants surrounding the large ancient tree, bowing before it, like it was a deity.

When I would walk to elementary school with my friends Rob and Barry, we would trade stories about the tree on “The Forest,” bit and pieces of rumor and gossip about the true meaning of the oldest living member of our community.  Our parents rarely talked to us about the tree, just that it was a relic of the Revolutionary War.  We were never sure if they were ignorant of the history, or hiding it from us, like a parent avoiding talking about the birds and the bees.

While the tales we heard in school differed depending on which grade we were in at the time, the facts were similar to what we finally discovered by a simple visit to the archives at the Queens College Library, which we visited for a high school report on the Tree (remember, Google didn’t exist yet when I was in high school, so we had to go to a real library).

During the Revolutionary War, there was the Battle of Long Island.  The Flushing area where I currently live was primarily farmland owned by the Parsons family.  Alexander Parsons lived alone with his daughter and was an ultra-religious man, not caring whether his loyalties went to the British or the colonists.  He just cared about hard work and the Bible.

In is younger days, Alexander Parsons was a rabble-rouser, frequently traveling to Brooklyn with his famous cider packed on each side of his saddle, but after the death of his wife, Betsy, his heart grew cold, and he became a hermit.

One night, a group of British soldiers knocked on his door, asking for food and shelter.  His daughter, Sarah, cooked them dinner while Parsons entertained the guests by reading passages from the New Testament.  As he recited the section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he noticed that the soldiers were more interested in his daughter, with — as Parsons imagined — lurid fantasies of mounting her instead.  Parsons was disgusted at the sinful glances, and after dinner, Parsons said that he had to rise early, and quickly shuttled the soldiers to the stables where they would fnd their “beds” of hay. After the soldiers were comfortable, Parsons went the extra step and locked his daughter in the broom closet.

All night, Parsons was awake, a stoic patriarchal sentinel, refusing to release his daughter from the closet, ignoring her knocks and teary cries.  He was certain that SHE had been a part of this indecent exchange with the British soldiers. Did she shoot a lustful glance at one of the soldiers to attract him?  Perhaps she was intrigued by the powerful commanding officer with the large mustache, strong posture, and attention-getting uniform that snuggly fitted his masculine body?  Is it possible that she willing to lie with all of them at once, to give her body freely, wantonly, insulting the image of her perfect late mother, who remained a virgin until her wedding day?  And what about the soldiers in the stables? Could he trust them — these men filled with vigor and violence, like stallions eager for battle? What if they rammed through the door in the middle of the night, and demanded to take her at all costs, using force to satisfy their animal urges?

Parsons own mind drove him insane that night, and as the soldiers slept soundly, exhausted from travel, Parsons walked into the stable with his sharp meat knife, and slit the necks of each soldier.

Parsons returned to his house, knife still in hand and opened the closet door.  His daughter saw the blood dripping down the knife handle onto her father’s worn, bony hands.

“What have you done?!” she screamed.

“I have sent those sinners to HELL!”

“Why? Why? I don’t understand?  Why did you lock me up?  Why did you kill those soldiers”

“I know what you wanted to do with those men.”

Parsons eyes were as blood-red as the knife, as he continued screaming, spittle flying from his mouth.

“My own flesh and blood is like a female serpent luring her prey.  That’s why they looked at you like that.  Wanting to rip off your clothes, to reveal your tender full breasts, to steal your precious womanhood from inside your fiery furnace of decadence!”

Parsons grabbed the arm of his daughter.

“Stop it!  You’re hurting me!” she screamed.

He dragged her outside into the dark, cold night where wolves were already howling, smelling blood.

But Parsons did not use his knife.  He carried her to the largest tree on his property, and hung his own daughter with a sturdy rope.

The next day, British troops approached, searching for three of their men.  They found their bodies in the stable, their heads rolled several feet away, maggots and rats and possoms eating the eyes and brains of their fallen comrades.

Sarah Parsons was hanging from her father’s tree, her eyes still open, a horrified gaze affixed until her last seconds of life, her slanted mouth still forming her father’s name in vain.

Alexander Parsons was in the house, naked, flogging himself with a whip, his back bloody as each self-inflicted crack beat his skin again, bent over as he read from his favorite Bible verses, as if he was in a trance.  He never looked up from the Bible, even as he was carried away by the officers.  He was forever lost in time and place, awaiting to meet his Maker.

The British Military Tribunal found Alexander Parsons guilty of murder and hung him from the same tree as he had hung his daughter.

Fast forward to 2003.  Mrs. Vanello, the current owner of the property, wanted to build her home on the “The Forest” next to “The Hanging Tree.”  Local Queens Community Board #27, after a heated discussion, decided that the tree was an important historical landmark to the area, so she couldn’t chop down the tree.  Mrs. Vanello, a woman who doesn’t like to say no for an answer, build the home anyway — a triangular monstrosity that avoided the tree, letting it remain standing to the side of her driveway, like an ancient oddity.

Mrs. Vanello was not new to controversy.  The Community Board tried to close her liquor store because it was a blight on the neighborhood, serving the bums and the hoodlums.  She pulled her daughter out of high school because she was “dating” a Puerto Rican boy. Some hated her for her sense of privilege.  Her uncle was a big shot in Queens politics, who always protected her from local outrage.

About three months ago, there was a huge storm in New York City — a tornado even (remember that?!).  The epicenter was, of all places, my neighborhood in Queens.  Windows were broken.  Branches cracked.  But the biggest tragedy was after almost two and a half centuries of existence, the famous “Hanging Tree” fell blown over, like a mighty statue which finally turned to dust. It was the last piece of Revolutionary War history in our neighborhood.

As you can see from the included photos, the city still hasn’t taken away the remains of the tree.  The Community Board is dealing with the red tape on how to clean up a fallen landmark.

This morning, Halloween, there was a ring at the bell.  I cursed under my breath, thinking it was Trick or Treaters already making their rounds at 9AM.  Kids are so impatient today.  But it was not children in cute costumes; it was my next door neighbor, Lily.  She invited herself into my apartment.

“Call your mother,” she said.

My mother came from the bedroom, and Lily took us to the window by the dining room; it faced the Vanello house by the old Parsons Tree.  There were several cop cars in front of the Vanello property.  This was not unusual, because both Mrs. Vanello and her daughter, Angella, were tempestuous women who had loud arguments that inspired calls to 911.  You could sometimes hear the crashing of dishes from the Vanello place from up in my bedroom.

“This time it is serious,” said Lily.

Lily explained that both Mrs. Vanello and her daughter were both found hanging from their ceiling fan.  They are dead.  The scene was gruesome.

“Who?  Why?” asked my mother, trembling.

I was also in shock at the news.

“You know I’m not a superstitious woman,” said Lily, taking a deep breath.  “I am a science teacher at Stuyvesant High School, and an avowed atheist.”

My mother and I both nodded.  She was even the head of the Queens Atheism Club.

“But the rumor is that when the tree fell down, it unleashed the spirit of old Alexander Parsons.”

It was as if Lily’s hair was turning gray in front of me.

I was still skeptical.

“Are you saying the ghost of Alexander Parsons was the one who hanged Mrs. Vanello and her daughter?”

Down below, on the street, an ambulance had just arrived.  Two bodies were being wheeled out of the home, past the stump and the remains of the old Hanging Tree.

“Is it possible?” I thought to myself.  “Is it truly possible that there are ghosts among us, some good and some evil?”

I thought back to that report I did in high school.  I went into my closet to retrieve it.  My mother had kept all of my school report in a neat folder.  I was shocked at what I learned.
“Alexander Parsons was hung on October 31, 1777, on All Hallow’s Eve.  As the noose was put around his neck, he promised to some day return, when the time was right, and to take revenge on all LUSTFUL SINNERS EVERYWHERE!”

“I think he plans on striking again tonight!” said the terrified Lily.

“But WHO?  WHERE?” screamed my mother.

“No one knows,” answered Lily.  “But anyone hearing or even reading about this story about the old tree is in a great deal of danger.  It doesn’t matter where you live or how far away from Flushing or Queens.  It could be ANYONE who has ever lusted or had a sinful thought or had once gone onto a porn site with amateur videos where the brunette looks vaguely like someone you went to graduate school with several years ago.  Everyone is in danger of the Flushing Halloween Hangman!”

From the writer of such horrific Halloween tales as The Mommyblogger’s Demon Child (2009), Giving Head (2008), The Werewolf (2007), and The Joy of 666 (2006)!

The Mommyblogger’s Demon Child

(first part of story here)


This was the strangest week.  I was depressed lately, rarely leaving the house.  I spent a lot of time in my office, introducing my mother to new technology.  I showed her how to use Firefox on her laptop and how to quick dial on her new phone.  My mother is officially the only one I know in real life who has a Barbra Streisand song as her ringtone.

On Tuesday, I was invited to this party at a hotel in Midtown.  Yes, me — Neil Kramer, who never gets invited anywhere. A group of mommybloggers had started a group website and were having a launch party at the Hilton.  They were arriving from all over the country.  Toshiba sponsored the the party.  The event would be a way for bloggers to socialize, as well as for Toshiba to showcase some of their latest products.

When I first received the invitation, I didn’t want to attend the party.  Would I be accepted by the others?  I had made enemies in the mommyblogging community lately because of some comments I had made on Twitter, accusing them of ruining blogging with all their giveaways and monetization.

My mother convinced me that I should go to the party.  She was worried that I was turning into a hermit and shut-in.  There was another reason I wanted to attend.  I was curious to meet Eleanor.  Eleanor, one of the writers for this new blog, was a single mother from Arkansas.  We had flirted a bit on IM.  She had never been to New York before and was bringing along her daughter, Sarah, for the event.

Despite the rain and the first game of the World Series, the party was a huge success.  I spent most of my time chatting with Eleanor and drinking “dirty martinis.”  I related to Eleanor.  Unlike some of the other mothers, who were unnaturally upbeat, there was a darkness to Eleanor. It felt as if she had “experienced life,” good and bad, and I found her sexy.

Eleanor brought Sarah to the party for an hour, just so she could meet everyone.  I had read so much about Sarah’s on Eleanor’s blog, it was as if I knew her.  She was five years old, with raven hair — the most adorable young girl you’d ever seen.  Sarah and I had a discussion about “My Little Pony,” which apparently was her favorite toy.  Luckily, “My Little Pony” was the giveaway in the latest Happy Meal, and I had just read about it while standing in line at McDonald’s, so I was able to fake my knowledge.  It worked, because I clearly won over this sweet girl!

After Eleanor put Sarah to bed, Eleanor and I continued our conversation in the hotel bar.  She talked about her last relationship.  I talked about Sophia.  When it was time for the bar to close, she invited me upstairs to her hotel room.

“You mean… stay here?” I asked, surprised.

“Will your mother mind?” she asked, laughing.

“Mind?!  She’ll be grateful!  But what about Sarah?”

“I have a two room suite.”  she said. “And she’s fast asleep.”

As anyone who has read my blog, you know I don’t hold back from telling you about my life.  I am an open book.  I would love to report back, in complete detail, about what happened in that New York City hotel room during the next few hours, with the lights of Fifth Avenue sparkling below, but I can hardly remember what occurred, and if I could, it would hardly make logical sense.  I remember her long, thin body, her hard nipples, and her long hair falling on my chest.  I can hear the bed ramming loudly against the wall.  But were those moans of pleasure or pain?

In the morning, I opened my eyes and groaned.  The light was burning my retinas.  I had the worst hangover in my entire life.  The mattress was half off the bed.  I was in bed naked and alone.  There were deep scratches and bruises all over my chest, stomach, and thighs, as if I were attacked by a jaguar.

What happened last night?  And were was Eleanor?  I turned towards the window and saw that I was not alone.  But it wasn’t Eleanor.  It was Sarah, sitting comfortably in the arm chair, her feet crossed, innocently playing with her My Little Pony.  I quickly covered my bruised body with the sheet.

“Uh, hello there, Sarah.  Where’s your mother?”

Sarah rose up, but didn’t speak.  She handed me a letter, written on the hotel stationery.  It was from Eleanor.

Dear Neil,

For the last six years, I have been a mommyblogger, and have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.  I have given seminars at BlogHer, had lunch with both Amalah and Bossy, and I am ALWAYS included in those books which compile blog posts on motherhood.

Lately, I have been disappointed with the direction of the momosphere.  New mothers want to move up the ranks without doing the hard work.  That is why I have decided to quit being a mommyblogger, and re-brand my blog as a fashion blog.  My brief stay in New York has opened my eyes to the world of fashion.  I am bored with Arkansas.  Women are so glamorous in the big city, and I want to be part of this world.  Last night, as we made love, my mind drifted to my career goals.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a fashion blog in Paris?  I could name it “Arkansas Gal Goes to Paris” and it could be about my exploits in the French fashion world.  I definitely could monetize that!

As you can imagine, my daughter will not be an asset to my online business as I re-brand.  As a mommyblogger, she was essential, of course.  I will always appreciate everything she did for me during my early years of blogging.  Most of my readership came from stories about her, starting when I live blogged her birth.  My blog would not have been a success without my weekly photos of Sarah, especially the ones where I dressed her up in funny clothes during Halloween, but I think now is the time for BOTH of us to search for new opportunities.

As Sarah’s mother, I want the best for her.  And that is why I thought about YOU.  Who do I know who could use a child to enhance his reputation with the online community?  You!  Now with a child, you can be a parent blogger like the rest of us.  You can be ONE OF US!

I was shocked and intrigued by the content of this letter. And perhaps Eleanor was right.  Having a daughter would change my online life.   I heard Eleanor’s voice ringing in my head.

“You can be ONE OF US!  ONE OF US!  ONE OF US!  ONE OF US!”

I glanced over at Sarah and she smiled at me, but when I stared into her eyes, I had to avert from her gaze.  I saw something inside her dark eyes that I found troubling, but what?!

The next few days were a whirlwind of activity.  I brought Sarah back to Queens, and my mother was ecstatic.  She had always wanted to be a “grandmother.”  My mother introduced Sarah to the neighbors in the apartment building, bragging about how smart she was, and how she was going to attend Harvard Medical School and make something of herself, unlike her son.

“Success always skips a generation,” she told Muriel, my next door neighbor.

Despite my fears, nothing bad came to pass.  In fact, Sarah had only brought me good luck.  The news of my new “daughter” spread throughout the blogosphere.  Within a day, my readership had tripled, and PR companies were inviting me to free trips to Disney World.

My nights were filled with new and fun parental activities.  I was either baking Tollhouse cookies, playing Candyland, or enjoying the latest show on the Disney channel.  I was happy.

But something changed when I was alone with Sarah.  Twice a week, my mother went to play mah jongg at a neighbor’s apartment.  The minute my mother closed the door behind her, Sarah became more obstinate.

“I don’t want to put away my f**king toys!” she would say to me.

I tried to remain calm, knowing that changing families can be hard on a young child.

“Now, Sarah, in this house, when we finish playing with our toys, like My Little Pony, we put them into our nice toy box.”

“Eat sh*t, you motherf**ker!”

“Now, Sarah. I know the type of language they have on TV nowadays.  I sometimes watch Entourage, too, but it is inappropriate to speak this way to someone older than you.”

“I bet you have a tiny d*ck,” she replied.

I found this entire exchange troubling.  When my mother returned from mah jongg, I told my mother about Sarah’s misbehavior, but when we walked into her bedroom (which used to be MY bedroom), the young girl was sleeping soundly, looking like an angel.

“You must be imagining all of that,” said my mother.  “Sarah is the most perfect child I have ever seen.  Are you jealous because she is getting so much attention from me?”

My mother assured me that I would always be her son, even if she doted on Sarah and treated her like the daughter she always wanted instead of a boy.

“By the way.  Please clean out your closet to make room for all the new clothes that I want to buy Sarah at TJ Maxx,” said my mother.

I went to sleep on the uncomfortable living room couch, the plastic cover sticking to my body.  I felt confused.  Maybe Sarah was just tired from all the excitement.  That would explain her temper tantrums.  She needed time to adjust to her new environment.

The next morning, I woke up.  The head of Sarah’s My Little Pony, cracked off the rest of the body, was sitting on my pillow, in a pool of ketchup.  I could hear Sarah laughing in my her bedroom — in MY old bedroom.  It was not the gentle laugh of an adorable child, but the crazed guffaw of Satan’s offspring.


“You need to bond with her,” said my mother as she made French Toast for breakfast the next morning.  “Then she’ll be your friend.”

“You make the best French Toast in all the world, ma’am,” said Sarah to my mother.  Sarah was sitting at the kitchen table, her hands folded like the teacher’s pet.

“Thank you, sweetie.  You are so nice and polite.  And please… call me Grandmama.”

“OK, Grandmama.  I love you, Grandmama!  One day I will go to Harvard Medical School and make you proud of me!  I will never waste my life on Twitter like Neilochka does!”

My mother suggested that I decorate the house for Halloween with Sarah.

While my mother attended her mah jongg game, I bought a large pumpkin.

“How about we make a Jack O’Lantern together!” I announced cheerfully.

“Yayyyyyy!” Sarah yelled, with youthful enthusiasm.

We went into the kitchen to start the project.  I cut off the top of the pumpkin, and threw out the guck inside.  I gave Sarah a Sharpie so she could draw a “spooky face” on the exterior of the pumpkin.

“This is fun!” she said.

I was glad that we were finally bonding.

I found the sharpest kitchen knife, one that my mother recently bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond with a 20% off coupon, in the utensil drawer, and used it to start carving out the face.  As I worked on our creation, I entertained Sarah by teaching her the words of “The Monster Mash.”

It was at this point that Sarah’s demeanor changed for the worse.

“You cannot sing for sh*t,” she said.

“That is not very nice thing for you to say, Sarah.  It is not polite to criticize someone’s singing.  If you don’t have anything nice to say…”

“Loser!  Dummy!  Fart-face!  Moron!  P*ssy!”

I could tell that words alone were not enough to discipline her.  I was forced to say the most hated statement that any parent could ever speak.

“Sarah, stop that, or I will spank you!”

“You don’t have the guts to spank me, you weenie! I piss on you.”

Sarah started to pee all over the kitchen floor, laughing like a hyena.

“This is unacceptable!” I said.  I kneeled down with a roll of paper towels to wipe the pee.  Being a parent to a child was more work than I ever realized!

As I scrubbed the floor, I decided to have a serious conversation with Sarah about her behavior, but when I turned to my side, she was not there.  I immediately noticed that the knife that I was using to carve the pumpkin was also gone.  Whaaaa…?

I angled my body backwards and there was Sarah, behind me, holding the knife over her head, the florescent light reflecting the  sharpness of the metal blade.

Sarah’s face was blood red as she uttered her mantra —

“I must kill you for your mocking comments about mommybloggers.  I must kill you.  I must kill you because I was brought to this earth to do evil and EVIL I must do!”

This Daughter of Lucifer was about to stab this kitchen knife into me, when the front door opened.  It was my mother, having just finished her game of Mah Jonng at Mildred’s.

“No!” screamed my mother.  “And not with that brand new knife!”

I had heard stories of how human beings can develop super-strength when their adrenaline is pumping.  I read about a father who lifted up a Chevy truck with his bare hands in order to rescue his son trapped underneath.  The parental bond is that strong, and so it was with my mother.  When she saw that I was in danger, she leaped into the sky and knocked the knife out of Sarah’s hand.  Sarah went flying across the linoleum floor.

“F*ck you, Grandmama,” said the angry girl.

“That’s it, young lady.  You’re punished.”

My mother dragged Sarah into the bathroom, where she proceeded to wash her mouth out with a bar of Ivory Soap.  I remember my mother once did this to me because of my “potty mouth,” and it was an experience I would never forget.  However,  Sarah was unrepentant.  She continued to curse at both of us, and her head did a 360 degree turn, which was a clear sign that she was up to no good.

“This child is inhabited by the evil power of Lucifer,” said my mother.  “We need to find an exorcist!”

“Where are we going to find an exorcist in Queens?” I asked.

We both agree that we needed to find a religious figure, a person of education and faith, one equipped to fight this monstrous Beelzebub that was inside this young girl.

The next day, on Halloween, we dragged Sarah over to Beth Israel and requested a meeting with Rabbi Gold.  It seemed natural to first seek counsel from “one of your own.”  Rabbi Gold was new to the temple, a handsome young rabbi, still single, fresh from the rabbinical seminary.  After we told him about our problem, he was honest with us, and said that he had never dealt with the spawn of the devil before.

“Maybe we should call up Father O’Herily at Saint Francis.  He’s probably more experienced.  When Jews get possessed by Satan, they usually don’t come to their rabbi.  They usually go into therapy.”

“Hey there Jew-boy,” teased Sarah.  “You wearing that yarmulke to cover that bald spot?!”

“Sarah, that is so rude!” yelled my mother.

The red-faced rabbi rifled through the Talmud looking for instructions on how to do a exorcism.

“I don’t know if this will work,” said the rabbi when he found the appropriate passage, “But we can try this fifteen century pray written to combat evil.”

Rabbi Gold started reciting the powerful Hebrew text, but Sarah just laughed.

“Going up?” she asked, as if she was an elevator operator, and she lifted the rabbi into the air with her powers, pinning him to the ceiling of the temple.

“Bring him down right now,” scolded my mother.

“Sorry, Grandmama, but maybe Neilochka can keep him company.”

Sarah extended her hand and I zoomed up against the ceiling, landing next to the Rabbi.

With the rabbi and I helpless, this left my mother alone with Sarah, female vs. female.

“What is wrong with you?” asked my mother.  “Why are you so evil?  Who’s ever going to want to date you when you get older?  You’re a total bitch!”

Sarah lifted up the top of her shirt.

“Girls Gone Wild!”

“Ugh,” we all said in unison, disgusted and uncomfortable.

Sarah then told us about how her mother, Eleanor, worked in a funeral parlor after graduate school, and how on one lonely, rainy night, Eleanor made love to a handsome, but decapitated man who was lying dead on a slab, but still with a hard-on, and how, because of this terrible and unnatural lust, she became pregnant and gave birth to a child from Hell.  Sarah then revealed the secret details of that recent elite Mommyblogging summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, where top mommybloggers gathered to come up with a plan to kill me, as punishment for some unflattering comments I made on Twitter.  It was Eleanor who suggested using her evil daughter to take care of things.

“And that is why I am who I am!  I was BORN EVIL!”

I was shocked by this story, at the horror of it all, and how easily demons can take hold of even the most innocent of creatures and turn them into cruel and inhumane monsters.

“And now to take care of ALL OF YOU.” the devil girl cried, her eyes glowing with hatred.

Sarah raised her thin hands again and the synagogue shook.  The stained glassed windows cracked, and the floor started to break apart, as if Hell itself was gobbling us up into the fire.  Blood spilled from the walls, and we could hear screams of agony from those imprisoned in the underworld.

“Good-bye, Mom.  Good-bye Rabbi Gold.  Goodbye World.”  I said, sobbing.

And then there was a faint sound.  A voice of goodness.  Of joy.  A voice that cut through the violence.  It was my mother’s cellphone.  It was Mildred calling, wondering if they were still playing mah jongg on Halloween.  But it was not Mildred that we heard.  It was my mother’s new ringtone, Barbra Streisand singing “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” from the movie Yentl.

Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa can you find me in the night?
Papa are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me not be frightened?

As Barbra sang, Sarah released her raised hands and crumbled to the floor in tears, vulnerable and child-like for the very first time.

“Daddy!  Where are you?  Who are you?” she asked, as tears ran down her face.

Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa can you find me in the night?
Papa are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me not be frightened?

The Rabbi and I slowly drifted down to safety and the shaking of the building ceased.  The blood on the walls disappeared.

“So, this is it,” said the rabbi.  “She never knew her father, and this longing has created the anger within!  And only Barbra Streisand’s voice and the lyrics to this song have healed her!”

“Oh, poor baby,” said my mother, her maternal instinct returning, as she went to hug Sarah.

“I’m a freak!” said Sarah.  “A freak because of my father!”

“No, you’re not,” said my mother.  “You’re just different.  And different can be interesting.  Look at Neil.  He’s a weirdo, and people still like him.”

“That’s true,” replied Sarah.

Just then, a ghost appeared.  It was a handsome man, his head decapitated and hanging to the side, still with a raging hard-on.

“Who’s your daddy?” he asked, a smile forming on the decapitated head.

“Papa?!” yelled Sarah.

“Yes, I am your father.  And even though I was dead when I impregnated your mother, I have always been proud of you.  I always will watch over you, even with my decapitated head. There’s no reason for you to be the spawn of Satan anymore.  It’s been done already anyway.  Be original!”

“Thank you, Papa.  I love you.”

“I love you, too.  Whenever you hear Barbra singing, think of me!”

And with those wise words, the ghost of Sarah’s decapitated father with the hard-on faded into the air.

Sarah was a new girl.  A girl of innocence and joy,

“Can we go get some ice cream now?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.  “We will ALL go for ice cream!”

And off we went to Baskin Robbins to celebrate the rebirth of Sarah, now non-Satanic.  The rabbi thought it would be good idea to contact her mother and tell her the good news.  He sent an email to his cousin in Paris, who was doing a junior year abroad.  The rabbi’s cousin was able to track down Eleanor, who was floundering as a fashion blogger.  Eleanor returned to the states to reconnect with her daughter.

Rabbi Gold went with Sarah to pick up Eleanor at the Air France terminal at JFK. The minute the Rabbi and Eleanor locked eyes, there was an immediate chemistry between the two, and they were married the next day, standing under the chuppah at the rabbi’s temple.  My mother and I also attended and were happy to dance at the wedding.  Sarah moved in with Eleanor and the Rabbi, and they became a happy family unit.  Sarah accepted the Rabbi as her step-father, knowing that the ghost of her decapitated biological father was always with her in spirit. Eleanor became a successful blogger, writing about Jewish crafts.

As for us, it was sad to lose Sarah, even if my mother and I were happy that she found a good home.  My mother looked at the bright side.

“You are such a neurotic mess.  Let’s first try to get you straightened out before we take in another Devil child.”

I would be lying if I didn’t admit enjoying my short-lived experience as a parent.  But, more importantly, I gained a new respect for YOU — my online friends who are parents.  You do deserve all the freebies and trips to Disney World.  Because — holy crap, being a parent is HELL.

Happy Halloween.

From the writer of such horrific Halloween tales as Giving Head (2008), The Werewolf (2007), and The Joy of 666 (2006)


They were beautiful. They were talented. They were some of the finest writers and photographers on the internet — strong, independent women, business-women, mothers — mommybloggers.

This weekend, twenty-five of these top mommybloggers met for a weekend summit in one of the most famous spas in Scottsdale, Arizona. The schedule called for pampering and catered meals, but also a serious discussion on important matters that deeply concerned the women of the blogosphere.

On Sunday morning, after a delightful breakfast buffet on the patio, Janet, the summit organizer, tapped her mimosa glass with her grapefruit spoon, calling for the attention of the others. It was time to bring up the main issue, the reason everyone was brought together, flown in from all points of North America.

“Something is tearing our community apart, like a plague,” said the organizer. “Or rather — someone. And we all know who it is.”

The others nodded.

“It is Neilochka. He mocks our mommyblogging networks, he chuckles at our fights over breast-feeding, he tells his friends that our kids are a bunch of spoiled brats, and then he has the chutzpah to want to f*ck us — happily-married women! This has got to stop!”

“But what can we do?” asked Rhonda, an extremely popular humor writer from Florida, who was as comfortable writing about sex as she was writing about the latest PTA meeting. “I’ve unfollowed him three times on Twitter, and he won’t shut up!”

“We need to ignore him.” said Brenda, a writer and mother of three, who recently got a gig as a guest lifestyle commenter on an Oxygen TV show about Moms. “We must never comment on his blog. EVER.”

“There’s only one way out of this,” spoke Eleanor, a brooding brunette with a booming voice. She was from a dark corner of Canada, and hardly spoke the entire weekend. Some wondered why she was even invited to this mommyblogging summit, because none considered her a close friend.

“Unfollowing him or ignoring him will never be enough. We need to do MORE.”

Eleanor reached next to her half-eaten vegetable egg-white omelet, grabbing her bread knife, and with a violent force, stabbed the knife into the oak patio table.    The knife remained, embedded in the wood, still vibrating, as if shaking in fear.

“We need to do a lot more,” she added.

The summit organizer, stunningly dressed in an attractive red sundress from Anthropologie, could hardly speak.

“Are you saying… uh… uh…”

“I’m saying we need to murder Neilochka.” said Eleanor. It won’t be easy. It won’t be clean. But we’re all mothers. We know how to clean up after a mess.”

“But how?” asked Rhonda, the Florida humor writer, not finding any of this funny at all. “And which of us would do it?”

“None of US will do it,” said Eleanor. “The cops will suspect one of us.”

“Then who?” demanded Brenda, intrigued by the suggestion, but also concerned about the possibility of losing her gig with Oxygen.

Eleanor threw her wallet onto the table. The billfold opened, revealing a photo of her Sarah, her lovely five year old daughter, dressed in a cute pink dress from American Girl, with a bow in her reddish hair.

The others looked at each other confused. Sarah? Her five year old daughter?

Eleanor grabbed her neighbor’s mimosa and chugged it down. She wiped her brow with the linen napkin, then stood up, ready to tell her story.

“If you all remember, I started blogging when I was pregnant with Sarah. Blogging was a way to connect with other women, other mothers. Blogging helped me get through some difficult times. Even though I wasn’t married at the time, you accepted me into your community. Today I am happy, but back then, I was lonely. My job was not fulfilling. I was working the night shift at the funeral parlor’s embalming office. While it gave me a good amount of time to blog and write my poetry, it added to my isolation. One night, a young man was brought in, a rugged, handsome man, who was killed in a motorcycle accident. As happens sometimes, the impact of the accident jolted his body, and since men react to anything — even death — the same way, he died with a hard-on. As he sat on the slab, naked, ready for the next day’s embalming, my lust took over. And yes… I made love to this dead man. Soon, I was pregnant, impregnated by this gorgeous man who just happened to be partly decapitated. Nine months later, Sarah was born. All of you congratulated me and created a virtual party for me on your blogs. You were such good friends. But I never told you the full story. I never told you that when I brought Sarah into church to be baptised, Father Brian gasped at the sight of my beautiful daughter, calling her a baby from hell, a half demon baby who would one day create havoc on the world, and just as Father Brian tried to exorcise the baby with holy water, a Toyota Corolla smashed in through the stained glass window, escaping from the Feds during a drug bust gone bad and a police chase through downtown Los Angeles, and pinned the priest against the wall, instantly killing him, his red blood staining the newly washed floor. I only tell you this because now that Sarah is five years old, it is time to unleash this demon child onto the world, and since we have no choice or way to stop her, we might as well use her for our own purposes. To use her as a tool of the mommybloggers. I know what you are thinking. What kind of mother am I to allow my daughter to kill Neilochka? Well, I would hope that you would not be critical of me because I raise my daughter in a way differently than you do. We’re all one community of mothers, even if one mother sometimes disagrees with some aspect of another mothers’ child-rearing methods. We can only mold our children so much. Some are just born with a certain disposition. Some are shy. Some are criers. Some are just plain demonic. And despite Sarah being the spawn of the Devil and a evil child from hell, I am still her mother, and I love her. I read her ethnically-diverse children’s stories, dress her in organic clothes, and teach her to be respectful when she plays with other children, sharing her toys. I love to take photos of her at the beach and upload them on Flickr, especially when we go on trips together, like that wonderful cruise that was sponsored by Disney. We had a great time, didn’t we Brenda?”

“Yes, it was a lot of fun,” replied Brenda. “But… but… what exactly will Sarah DO to Neilochka?”

“You will see.” said Eleanor, rather ominously. “You will see. Very soon.”

THE MOMMYBLOGGER’S DEMON CHILD, a Halloween Tale, coming to this blog on October 31st.

From the writer of such horrific tales as Giving Head (2008), The Werewolf (2007), and The Joy of 666 (2006)

Giving Head

I’ve written a lot lately on the difficulties of a man and a woman becoming platonic friends. This has been a theme throughout my life. In my experience, something always gets in the way.

After I graduated from Columbia, I moved into an apartment on 110th Street and Broadway. My roommate was Miyako, a female graduate student from Tokyo, who was studying physics. We quickly became good friends. She attended her first Passover seder at my home. She taught me to eat exotic sashimi. Our apartment was beautifully decorated with Japanese tea sets, woodblock prints from the Sosaku Hanga, and an authentic 19th Century nihontō Samurai sword on the wall, a gift from her uncle in Kyoto. There was no romance between us, only deep platonic friendship.

Things changed quickly when I met my Ellie. She was an exciting and sensual young woman from Connecticut. She opened up my mind and body to new pleasures. Before Ellie, I had never experienced oral sex. Ellie was obsessed with “giving head.” She love the passion, the vulnerability, and the control. Every morning I would wake up and find her already at work, slowly going up and down, hungrily taking me between her moistened lips, always totally in charge. As she pleasured me, she would stare at me with her beautiful, but foreboding, sky blue eyes, and I would be mesmerized, under her hypnotic gaze. She always had me at full attention, and I was her slave.

Ellie’s intense passion also had a dark side. She had an irrational hatred for Miyako. She was jealous of our platonic bond. Ellie wanted me only for herself.

One night, while Miyako was studying at the library, Ellie was giving me amazing head in the kitchen. As I leaned against the refrigerator, I noticed that there was something different in Ellie’s intensity. There was hatred in her eyes.

“You must kill Miyako. You must kill Miyako tonight!”

I tried to protest, but I was powerless. As she sucked my c*ck, I grew lightheaded, and all morality evaporated from my soul. I had no choice but to relent to her every whim. I needed to obey. I would kill my friend, Miyako.

At 11PM, Miyako returned from the library, drinking a cup of coffee from the Greek diner downstairs. Ellie hid in my room. I stood in the darkness of the foyer, the samurai sword from the wall gripped in my hand. I held the handle with such pressure that my veins felt like they were going to pop.

As Miyako stepped inside, she was humming a little tune. It was a Japanese children’s song about a little bird learning to fly. This was her favorite song. It was an innocent song, like Miyako herself. Like the innocence of a platonic friendship. The song touched my moral center. Is this what sexual desire does to a man — turns him into a craven murderer? Who was I? What had happened to that once nice Jewish boy? Had too much oral sex turned me into a monster?

“I cannot do it! No, I won’t kill you, Miyako!” I screamed.

Miyako turned, startled by the sight of me with the Samurai sword in my hand. She dropped the coffee cup onto the floor, the hot liquid spilling on the cold wood floor. She let out a silent scream. Ellie raced out of my bedroom, pulling at her long hair, her eyes angry at my betrayal.

“Do it!” she insisted. “Kill her. Kill her NOW!”

I glanced at Ellie, my beautiful lover. I turned to Miyako, a dear and trusting friend.

“Kill her. Kill her. Or I will kill her myself!” said Ellie.

Ellie lunged at Miyako, her jealous rage written all on her face.

“No!” I yelled. It was my final decree. I would close the chapter on this sexual, but horrific, chapter of my young life. I lifted the Samurai sword up high. The light from the track lighting in the kitchen refracted off the metal and I could see a mirror image of my determined face in the curved blade.

With one swoop, I swung the Samurai sword, decapitating Ellie.

For several minutes, Miyako and I stood in silence. What words could ever truly capture the terror on our faces? I took a deep breathe, taking in the life force, and eventually found enough reason to tell my tale to Miyako, from beginning to end. There was no catharsis in the re-telling of the murderous plot.

Miyako, being a good friend, was not concerned with the past. She was worried about me.

“You can get arrested for this.” she noted. “We need to get rid of the body.”

We gathered up the bloody body and the decapitated head and placed them in an old Japanese trunk that Miyako used as a changing bench in her bedroom. She told me of a lake in the Catskill Mountains where we could safely dispose of the body. We would drive there immediately, during the cover of night.

As we drove up through Westchester, the two of us had an emotional conversation. In one wild night, circumstances had brought us closer than ever before. We revealed that there was more to our relationship than just platonic feelings. Miyako admitted that when she went to the library at night, it was not to study, but out of jealousy. She could not bear to hear the sounds coming from our bedroom.

“What did she do to make you so content… so full of joy?” she asked, curiously. “Do you think I could ever make you so happy?”

It was at that moment, that I heard a faint voice coming from the trunk of the car.

“Giving head. Giving head. Giving head.”

It was the voice of Ellie. But how? Was my mind playing tricks on me?

“You don’t hear anything, do you?” I asked Miyako. “Like a voice from inside the trunk of the car?”

“Whose voice?”


Miyako laughed. She was a scientist.

“You mean a ghost?!”

Miyako always became argumentative whenever one of our friends brought up a subject like ESP, UFOs, religion or Bigfoot. If there was no empirical evidence, she thought it was hogwash.

I giggled along with Miyako. Of course she was right. Ellie was decapitated! The trauma of the evening was affecting my judgement. I was being silly.

“So, you never answered,” Miyako asks, returning to her question. “What DID you find so attractive about Ellie?”

I heard the voice once more.

“Giving head. Giving head. Giving head.”

I started to sweat profusely.

I slapped myself, trying to snap out of the craziness. Could it be… that Ellie’s chopped off HEAD was talking to me from inside the trunk?

Miyako still heard nothing. She pulled over next to an embankment looking out over Lananasee Lake, the car still running.

“We can dump her down there,” she said.

I nodded, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Ellie’s hypntoic voice was ringing in my ear.

“I know this is nuts, Miyako…” I said. “But can Ellie still be alive in there?”

Miyako grew petulant.

“I believe in global warming. I believe in evolution. I believe that one day the Mets might win another World Series. I don’t not believe in talking decapitated heads. And I’ll prove it to you…”

Miyako put on the brake and stepped out car.

“N-n-No!!” I stuttered, as I ran after her.

“Stop being a baby, Neil.” she said. “You’re a man, not a scaredy cat. I was so impressed the way you killed this horrible woman. And now you’re acting like a meek little girl afraid of her shadow.”

Her words stung like a poisoned arrow. She was right. I was born a man. A man shows no fear. A man is proud. A woman respects a man who looks danger in the eye.

Miyako opened up the hatchback of her car. Ellie’s voice grew louder.

“Giving head. Giving head. Giving head.”

The sound was deafening, but only I could hear it. Miyako grabbed the Japanese trunk and slid open the top open.

“There. See for yourself!” said Miyako.

I prayed to God, swallowed my fear, and looked inside. My eyes bulged in horror! It was empty! All that I could hear, all that I could think about was Ellie.

“Giving head. Giving head. Giving head.”

The voice was so close I could feel the breath on the back of my neck. I did a quick turn just as Miyako grabbed my hand in fear. In front of us was the headless Ellie. Under her arm, she carried her bloody, decapitated head, her eyes still alive, her mouth still moving.

“Giving head. Giving head. Giving head.”

Ellie moved the head towards the frightened Miyako. I ran to protect Miyako, but the Ellie pushed me aside, as only a scorned headless woman could do. Suddenly, the Samurai sword appeared in Ellie’s other hand, ready to be used. She approached Miyako, who was now frozen in fear.

I lifted myself up, stumbling against the car, aware that I could never make it to Miyako I time to save her. It was then that I felt the hum of the car engine against my arm, remembering that Miyako left the car running. I reached through the open window, pulled the gear to “Reverse,” and pressed the gas pedal with my hand. The car careened backwards.

“Miyako, move away!” I screamed.

Miyako awoke from her fearful slumber and shot to the side, just as the car smashed directly into Ellie, throwing both her and her screaming head off the cliff, and into the shallow depths of the lake, the car exploding on top of her.


A week later, Miyako moved out as my roommate. We never spoke again. Recently, she even refused to become my friend on Facebook, just proving how difficult it is for men and women to become friends.

Ellie’s body was recovered by the Dutchess County Police Department, but her head was never found.

Can Ellie’s head still be out there?

Men… be careful out there. Women can be dangerous.

Happy Halloween.

Truth quotient: Are you an idiot?

The Werewolf: The Scariest Halloween Tale Ever

I don’t like Halloween. I don’t like that children walk around play-acting as if they are ghouls and goblins, as if it is all a joke. Because it isn’t. There are dangers in this world that are too gruesome to even talk about.

I told Rob to be careful. He was one of my oldest childhood friends. We were in our mid-twenties, single, full of vigor, our entire lives ahead of us. We were camping in Colorado. Neither of us knew much about camping, seeing as we were both nice Jewish boys from Queens. We wanted to try it… to see the stars at night. Before we left, we attended a class at Paragon Sporting Goods near Union Square, where we learned to pitch a tent and filter our water. However, no teacher could ever prepare us for… the wolf.

I told Rob to be careful. Don’t go to far from the campsite at night. He laughed. He was just going to take a pee. I heard the sudden rush of the leaves, the scream, Rob on the floor, and beady eyes of the wolf, blood dripping from its paw. When the wolf saw me, he ran away. Why? I will never know. I rushed Rob to a hospital in Boulder. He would be OK. He only received flesh wounds. Rob was lucky that I showed up at the moment when the wolf attacked. He would live. At that moment, neither of us knew that his living was an option worse than death.

After our camping trip in Colorado, Rob moved to Chicago, and we lost touch. I frequently thought about him. What was his life like? Was he married? I searched for him on Google, with no success. Last week, I received a phone call from Rob. He said he needed to open up to someone, to unburden himself from the years of terror. He told me a story that made my hair turn white.

The following is a verbatim transcript of the phone conversation:

Rob: “After our trip, I moved to Chicago to work for an investment firm. It was a good job and I felt that I was a success. I was dating a lot of hot babes and my life was good. The only difficulty I had was with my arm — where the wolf bit me. The wound would burn like hell, as if ten thousand needles were being shoved into my arm. I would get faint at work and pass out. I started making mistakes with my clients, even losing millions of dollars by selling stocks short. I was fired, disgraced. No on would hire me. My body felt weird, as if it was elongating. I noticed hair growing all over my body, at a rapid rate. I had an insatiable urge to eat meat, even raw meat right from the package at the supermarket.

The worst was when there was a full moon at night. I would wail like an animal. All I could think about was finding a woman, a virgin, and devouring her like a monster. My body grew grotesque and my clothes felt so constraining, that I shredded them to pieces. Full of blood-lust, I careened down North Michigan Avenue, naked, my ears flared, my fangs ready, growling as my nose smelled the scent of a nearby virgin. She was standing outside the Gap, having just bought a pair of khakis, when I stood on my hind legs, and raised my paws, ready for the attack. She screamed, her face in shock at seeing a man-wolf on a city street, but as she looked me over, she started laughing, hysterically.

I made a hideous growling sound, but she just chuckled and pointed.

“Your penis. It’s so small!” she said.

Horrified at her mockery, I ran from her while crying, the cold Chicago wind hitting my face. I raced up the stairs of my building and jumped into my apartment, closing the door behind me. Disgraced and embarrassed, I spent the night watching “Millionaire” and eating raw meat. I was a failure as a werewolf.

I tried several more times, whenever a full moon hung high over the city. I could feel the transformation of my body, the saliva that would build up in my mouth, and the deadly paws that were ready to pounce on a new victim, but whenever I would raise my man-wolf body in the attack position, the woman would laugh at my penis.

I went to my family doctor, Dr. Eugene Fishback. I told him that I used to have a normal sized penis, but ever since I became a werewolf, it shrunk.

“Very interesting, Rob.”

“I’m not Rob anymore, Dr. Fishback. I’m the Werewolf.”

“I understand that. But your insurance still has you down as Rob. It’s probably better that we stick with that for insurance reasons.”

“Yes, good idea. Thanks, Doctor. So, what about the penis?”

“Well, the test results show that you’re getting a tremendous amount of adrenaline in your system whenever you transform into a wolf, and it is having an affect akin to steroids. It is changing your body in many ways, one of them being that it is shrinking your penis.”

“How can I be an effective werewolf with such a small penis?”

“It is mostly in your head, Rob. I’m sure there are werewolves with all sorts of penises. It shouldn’t really affect your performance when you go out searching for prey.”

But it did. I’ve always been insecure about things. Even in elementary school I used to get Bs on my report card, and I didn’t feel as smart as you.”

Neil: Oh, come on, Rob… I mean Werewolf. You were always very popular. Grades in school didn’t really matter that much.”

Rob: “But they did to me. I felt the same insecurity as a werewolf. Here I was, looking all scary and dangerous, from the waist up, but one little thing below the waist made my victims laugh at me.”

Neil: “Could the doctor do anything for you?”

Rob: “He gave me some pills, but nothing worked. I just got headaches. I tried Prozac for depression. Nothing. I went to herbalists, Chinese doctors — nothing worked. Finally I decided I needed help. I enrolled in a 12 step program for Monsters and Ghouls who don’t quite live up to their own standards. There was a witch who would get yeast infections from riding her broom, a vampire without teeth, and the ghost who was too lazy to scare anyone.”

Neil: “Did it help?”

Rob: “Not really. But I made some good friends. I became particularly close with the witch, Syeira, and we sort of hit it off. We became friends… with benefits. Man, was she wild! One day, she saw that I was moping around, looking at my small werewolf penis, when she said she might be able to help me. She opened up an ancient book of spells, and started to chant:

Wagga Wanna Wigga
Make His Penis Bigger

The room started to shake and I felt a surge of energy in my body. I screamed. I revolved like a whirling dervish and was thrown against the wall. I dusted myself off and stood up… and Syreira had succeeded! My penis was twice as big as it was originally! It was the happiest day of my life. I grabbed her and made love to her for the rest of the night.”

Neil: “That’s great. I’m so glad that you are happy!”

Rob: “The story isn’t over. The true horror has not even begun!”

Neil: “Oh no!”

Rob: “We’re men, you and I. We always screw things up, right?. Despite being happy with Syreira and my now-successful life as a scary werewolf with a giant penis, I found it hard to commit to just one woman.”

Neil: “I hear ya.”

Rob: “After coming home from a long night ravaging a virgin, I’m not in the mood to do the dishes, or talk about “her day.” I told her that if she gets yeast infections from her broom, she should just stop being a witch and stay at home and clean. She didn’t talk to me for a week.”

Neil: “Yeah, relationships are tough.”

Rob: “One weekend, Syreira came home from some witches’ convention a day early, and caught me in bed f**king her sister. She went crazy, calling me every name in the book. I tried to apologize, saying she was partly to blame. After all, she’s the one who gave me my new penis. Shouldn’t I be sharing it with the world?”

Neil: “It makes sense to me.”

Rob: “She immediately ran to her book of spells, and chanted:

Woodle Yoodle Oodle
Turn Him to a Poodle

And the damn harpy turned me into a poodle. A little white poodle. That’s what I am right now. That’s why you never hear from me. Can you imagine how difficult it was to use the phone?”

Neil: “But what about being the werewolf?”

Rob: “I’m not a werewolf anymore. I LOVED being a werewolf! Now I’m a stupid poodle!”

Neil: “I’m so sorry, Rob. I’m so sorry.”

Rob: “And the scariest thing is that she kept the new penis on me, so as I walk, it scrapes against the floor, causing me pain — just to punish me for my transgression.”

Neil: “My God, how cruel.”

Rob: “Women who feel wronged are the cruelest.”

Neil: “This is the the most HORRIFIC story I have ever heard.”

Note: Be careful… on Halloween!

Sunday at the Movies with Sophia


What says Sunday more than breakfast out at the local diner, doing the crossword puzzle, making a trip to the nearby Big Lots for paper towels, and seeing a movie (and sneaking into the second film at the multiplex just for the hell of it)?

Can you believe that Big Lots already has a CHRISTMAS DISPLAY! Really? WTF? It is the first week of October. Christmas is December 25.


The night before Hanukkah, Jews go into the closet and take out the menorah. Do Christians really need TWO FULL MONTHS to get ready for this holiday? I think Americans take more time and effort in planning for Christmas than we did in planning for the war in Iraq.

Can I give you mommybloggers some advice? Do not buy these rubber Halloween masks they sell! I put this one on for ten seconds just for this photograph and almost suffocated.


I took Sophia to our local AMC Theater to see two girly movies, Feast of Love and The Jane Austen Book Club. Not surprisingly, I liked both films better than Sophia, who found them corny and predictable. (Men, if your girlfriends or wives give you a choice to see these two films, pick “Feast of Love.” At least you get to see THREE of the actresses naked!).

During the second film, Sophia became uncomfortable from sitting so long, and started to squirm in her seat. She leaned over to me and whispered, “Help me undo my bra, I can’t reach without it being noticeable.” These were words heaven-sent, especially after just seeing three topless actresses bouncing around on the screen. Unfortunately, the bra removal was more for Sophia’s comfort than for my amusement. After ten minutes of my struggling to unsnap her bra, Sophia told me that I needed to write another post about how to undo the bra, and removed her bra herself through her sleeve. How do women do that? It’s like a magic trick! I can’t take my socks off before I take off my shoes. How do you take your bra off without first taking off your top?

“I left my purse in the car,” Sophia whispered. “Do you have a place to put the bra?”

“Sure,” I said, stuffing it into the front of my pants.

After the second movie, I suggested that we go and sneak into a third movie!   Sophia wasn’t sure she wanted to see another movie, but I said it would be fun.   We decided that Sophia would take a bathroom break, and I would meet her by the refreshment area, and then we would investigate what is playing.   As I waited for Sophia, I paced back and forth, watching all the suckers paying seven dollars for some popcorn. Suddenly, I noticed all eyes on me.   The theater manager ran over, and bent down next to me.

“You dropped your bra, sir,” he said to me.

He was holding Sophia’s bra, which had fallen out of my pants and onto the floor. People looked at me as if I was some pervert. I shoved it into my pocket as Sophia appeared.

“So, did you see any other good movies playing here?” she asked.

“No, let’s get out of this theater. And never come here again.” I said, as I grabbed her arm.

“Why? What happened?”

“I dropped your bra and everyone thought it was mine.”

I took her bra from my pocket and returned it to her. She started laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“Anyone can see — you could never be a D cup!”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Two Nerds on the Phone

Goodbye to Trash (The Lyrics)

Last night, I was watching poker on TV and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, when I received a call from Sophia.   She’s coming home ONE DAY EARLY.   Sunday, not Monday!

Joy.  Joy.   But —

F**k!  I was supposed to be cleaning rather than watching poker on TV.   I needed to get on the job. 

Of course, a half hour later, as I was throwing out three bags of garbage, I came up with a song to sing on my blog about cleaning the house.  

Now, it would be totally irresponsible to spend the time making an Mp3 of me singing the song when I had so much work to do.   Isn’t that why Sophia and I are having problems to begin with?  Shouldn’t I prove that I’m a responsible person?

But I guess I could just post the lyrics.  That doesn’t take more than five minutes to do.  And I won’t put up a photo to save time.  Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.  I think it is important to post something on Sunday when I actually get two readers.

Since Halloween is coming up, the song is sung to the tune of “Monster Mash.”

Goodbye to Trash

I was blogging in my house late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
The house was so dirty it was a shock
And Sophia was arriving at three o’clock

Goodbye to Trash
I threw out the trash
Goodbye to Trash
I was not being rash
Goodbye to Trash
It was out like a flash
Goodbye to Trash
I threw out the trash

I called all my friends from Hollywood
Getting all the help that I could
Leaving emails to all I could reach
“Please come down to Redondo Beach!”

Goodbye to Trash
I threw out the trash
Goodbye to Trash
I was not being rash
Goodbye to Trash
It was out like a flash
Goodbye to Trash
I threw out the trash

We washed the floor and the drapes
We went in the sofa and took out some old grapes
We threw out all the porno magazines
Cause this place was looking like Charlie Sheen’s

Goodbye to Trash
I threw out the trash
Goodbye to Trash
I was not being rash
Goodbye to Trash
It was out like a flash
Goodbye to Trash
I threw out the trash

Sophia, I know you’ll be here soon
That’s why I’m singing you this little tune
I can’t wait to pick up you at LAX
Maybe, if I’m lucky, we’ll even have…

Goodbye to Trash
I threw out the trash
Goodbye to Trash
I was not being rash
Goodbye to Trash
It was out like a flash
Goodbye to Trash
I threw out the trash

(and thank you, Charming but Single — I will buy flowers.  And not the cheap ones)

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