Poison Apple

Shake everything with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin apple slice.

~ A Dr Bamboo original creation

This is a challenging time of year. If you live in a part of the world where the seasons change, you'll notice that when October starts heading for the exit, there are a few things to consider. First, it's definitely time to dust off the jacket and long pants. Even diehards like myself who desperately try to wring every last drop of sunny weather out of the calendar have to admit it's time to put away the shorts and flip-flops. It's a wistful moment.

Second, it's the cusp of the holiday season. In actuality, we have boatloads of time to prepare for the year-end assault of enforced merriment, but the stores would have you believe otherwise. Sure, the organized among us may be doing their shopping now, but most of us haven't given a single thought about what to get Aunt Phyllis (Booze is often a good go-to, but I'm admittedly biased). We labor under the sweet delusion we can set aside the gift-buying duties for a few weeks and enjoy what the present has to offer, but the industrial drumbeat of the market machine keeps it ever in our consciousness. Fully embracing the sublime Autumnal charm of a falling leaf or the sparkle of a first frost isn't an easy proposition when "Deck The Halls" is already thundering out of every radio and TV speaker within earshot.

Third, this is when a form of seasonal mass psychosis strikes much of the populace, sending them manically scurrying to the closest farmer's markets, roadside stands and organic grocers in search of apple cider, pumpkins, and other items symbolic of the harvest. Otherwise sane people will suddenly be gripped by an irresistible, feverish compulsion to buy things like acorn squash, and they can easily consume whole afternoons rocketing down rural two-lane roads in search of any outpost bearing authentic Fall perishables. Studies show that heart disease is the number one killer, but I'd wager that this time of year it takes second place to being crushed by a Volvo station wagon bearing a family of four on the hunt for mulling spices. It's just plain weird.

Personally, I blame the likes of Martha Stewart, Garrison Keillor, Norman Rockwell and their ilk for the creeping grief that permeates our psyche during this season. These merchants of contrived down-home pageantry have systematically conspired to coerce legions of ordinary folk into thinking their lives are painfully flawed if they haven't assembled a bloated tablescape and had the local clergyman over for hot toddies and pastry before the first leaf hits the ground. People are falling prey to this phenomenon left and right, and if you see your neighbor festooning his front door with Indian corn it's already too late- It's only a matter of time before a basket of gingham-topped jars containing obscure preserved fruit appears on your doorstep and infects you too.

Which is why I thank all that is good and righteous for Halloween. It's timing couldn't be better, and for a holiday built around masquerade and artifice, it's refreshingly honest. It's a no-baloney holiday, and both young and old realize this. Why do kids love Halloween? They can pretend to be anything they want, no matter how obnoxious, for the sole purpose of getting free candy. Collecting crippling amounts of sugar-based goodies is the order of the day, and the best part is that the grownups are gleefully complicit. Speaking of grownups, why do they love Halloween? Because they can put on the most tasteless outfits imaginable, get liquored up with abandon at each others' houses, and engage in questionable behavior that will in all likelihood be forgiven or forgotten the next day.

I could go on about other Halloween hallmarks like how cool the decorations are, the great schlocky horror movies that get released around this time, and the nifty pagan provenance of the whole thing. But we all know the deal: This is the holiday that lets us briefly untether a few of our urges before we have to cram 'em back in their cells lest they show up uninvited at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's Eve (Well, maybe one or two are permissible for that night). Just remember that Halloween is an occasion for celebrating spirits of all kinds, so do so with reverence and enthusiasm.

Thanks for drinking!

~ Dr. Bamboo