It's Halloween time again, and The Observer is saddened to report that Junior — only 12, but already a hefty 5'10" — is finally too big for trick or treating, even if we could convince our headstrong 'tween to take such an indignity as door-to-door begging upon himself. Halloween has always been our favorite time of year, especially so after Junior was born. The Observer is something of a tinkerer and mad scientist, and we've built him some hum-dinger costumes over the years, including a paper mache round-dome diving helmet so he could go as "Junior Cousteau: Ocean Explorer" one year.
Paired with a gray tracksuit and a faux weight belt, that baby scored Junior and his Wheelman a lot of candy that year: 6-year-old him bobbing along in the cool dark in his helmet, busily bankrupting the candy bowls of Ridgeway. Ah, memories.
The Observer loves old timey stuff — old timey cars, old timey books, old timey houses. We're not personally old timey yet, but we feel that way sometimes. We particularly like old-timey stores, those places where you can get all the stuff you never quite knew you needed.
If you're in the market for an old-timey drugstore, check out Drug Emporium on Rodney Parham. Spouse has been a fan for years, and last weekend, we stopped in for something for her real quick and wound up staying for almost an hour until she finally dragged us out.
We don't do commercials in this space, but Yours Truly was honestly amazed with their selection. That amazement can be summed up in two words: mustache wax. Yes: mustache wax. If you're dying to wax your mustache — to go Snidely Whiplash or Salvador Dali or just freestyle it — they've got tubes of mustache wax at Drug Emporium, each tube packaged with a tiny mustache comb.
That's just the tip of the weirdo-mercantile iceberg on display there: Shaving brushes, cakes of shaving soap and wooden shaving soap cups. Bottled kombucha mushroom tea. Frozen Indian food. Over a dozen varieties of steel-cut oatmeal. Bay Rum cologne. Over two dozen varieties of crazy Dr. Bronner's Soap with the weird little writing about the Apocalypse on the label. The biggest vitamin selection we've ever seen under one roof. Little foam jellybeans to keep your knees apart when you're sleeping. A humongous organic food section (at prices that wouldn't even get you in the door at Whole Foods). More. Just row on row of interesting stuff to look at, smell, and puzzle over.
Maybe best of all, we discovered that Drug Emporium still has what appears to be one of the last surviving examples of the three-for-a-quarter, honor-box candy stands. The Observer loved those as a kid, always begging two bits out of Pa while shopping with the Parental Units at Safeway so we could buy root beer barrels, our hard candy favorite until that love affair came to an end over a shattered molar in our early 30s.
On Saturday, we turned the corner at Drug Emporium and were suddenly back there again: 6 years old, standing with a quarter in our hand before that first hint that someone out there trusted me to do the right thing. The only difference was this one happened to be situated smack dab in the middle of the modern world, seems so obsessed with the idea that somebody is going to make off with something they shouldn't have. No need to check out. No need to get a receipt and copy of the receipt to keep from setting off the alarm at the door. Just your own personal morality and sweet tooth. Plunk your quarter into the steel box with a lock on it and select your candy. Easy as pie.
Praying for our fillings, we chewed Milk Maid caramels all the way out the door, marveling that our own childhood could be purchased so cheaply.
The Observer's hands-down favorite Democrat-Gazette headline of recent memory, from a story on the outdoors they ran last Saturday: "Moss Grows Where the Sun Don't Shine."
Given that every comment we've thought of making right now sounds worse than the original headline, we'll just leave it at that.