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I don’t like Halloween. I don’t care about horror movies, candy stuck to my teeth, root canals and masses of anxious children. I never asked a creepy stranger for crappy sugar treats because we didn’t do that in Germany. We just put out a boot on the porch on December 6 and Santa Claus mysteriously fills it with candy overnight. Now, that’s a good deal. Who needs to deal with all that trick-or-treat nonsense? Then my daughter was born and I suddenly had to care about Halloween.

I admit, until a few years back, I had a pretty good deal: My daughter does all the costume work, she carries the plastic pumpkin and she has to do all the begging work. Well, for some reason I was assigned to carve the pumpkin even though I’m left-handed. Actually, I have two left hands. At least you won’t need to see my pumpkins on Instagram.

When she went to bed, my wife and I went to town: M&M’s for me, Twix for her, sticky candy for the daughter. By next day, Astrid had forgotten about all the Halloween candy. She moved on to think about St. Martin, Santa Claus and Christmas. While we secretly stuffed our waistline with the beggars delight.

And then we went to Korea. Just like the majority of smart countries in the world, most Koreans heard about Halloween but don’t care about it. Which resulted in a severely depressed daughter and an increasingly cranky dad. Don’t ask me how but my wife found an event in some school in Jeju. Now, Jeju is a small island to the south of Korea. You have to drive 5 hours to find a piece of cheese here. Which tells you everything about the power of Halloween. Or the power of depressed children watching too much Halloween advertising. 5 hours to get cheese, 45 minutes to go to a Halloween event. Talk about wrong priorities.

We don’t have a car here in Korea. The government doesn’t trust us to drive here because we don’t have an International Drivers Permit, the document they hand out the AAA like tooth brushes on Halloween night in Santa Monica. That means we have to take a cab. Easy, right?


Taking a cab in Korea means taking a picture of the Hangeul translation of the place because nobody speaks English, dealing with translation services, an annoyed cab driver and really bad music playing on the radio. I mean really bad music. We are talking accordions and flutes here. Sometimes, taking a cab translates into almost getting into a fist fight with an old man. But that’s a different story. I’m trying to sell that story to Hollywood right now. Stay tuned.

In short, driving a cab for 45 minutes is a torture in itself. Just imagine getting a root canal for 45 minutes and then the dentist tells you: “Let’s get started.” That how it felt when we arrived at the Halloween event. 500+ screaming kids on a Sugar-Kimchi-Halloween high, stepping on feet, pushing, kicking, yelling, screaming. And a jerk with a megaphone.

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That jerk jelled out some nonsense for hours. You can get a glimpse of it on my Instagram. Nobody was listening, he was just the rent-a-jerk on the megaphone, feeling great that he was louder than anybody else. And I was thinking what Freddy Kruger would have done to him. Visualization is a powerful tool. Oh, at one point we found out that we needed tickets. I was assigned the task to deal with a sold-out event, 50 pushing and yelling women trying to convince the ticket agent to sell them one more ticket. 5 additional tickets were released. How did I get three? As with any war stories, one doesn’t share the details. Let’s just say there was shrapnel and things got ugly.

After winning that war, it was time to head to the second front: Megaphone Jerk and kids that should be in prison. It’s hard to win two wars in one day: I just handed over the tickets and watched the rest of the proceedings from the sideline. The pushing, the shoving, the kids with a sword trying to poke my eyes out, the adults that push you and step on your foot without ever  acknowledging their mistake. Is there a “Sorry” or “Entschuldigung” in the Korean language? I watched it all, let my body be battered, my mind bruised. Just for my daughter to walk through a haunted house for 30 seconds. That’s why the economy is so weak: So much emotional and time investment for a 30-second payoff.

It took us another 90 minutes and an awful cab driver to be finally home. But it didn’t matter anymore. While I was drinking Cass beer and chewing M&M’s, I was thinking: “She’s 10 now. She’ll be too old for this in 3 years. 2 more years.”

Only 2 more years.

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