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Tombstones From Hell

One dad's pathetic attempt to decorate for Halloween

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Halloween around our town of Sandpoint, Idaho is straight from fiction. Leaves line the streets and sidewalks. The air is crisp. Pumpkins sit on porch steps, except for houses where those assholes who turn off their porch lights live. Since it is so halloweeny in feel, one year when our kids had not reached neanderthal on the maturity curve, I decided to really spruce things up. I intended to put tombstones in the front yard. After a bit of research I discovered that these were best cut from styrofoam bricks and wired into the lawn.


Dear reader, you need to understand something here. I am not handy. I own one toolbox that is filled primarily with picture hangars missing their nails, a pair of adjustable pliers that I have never figured out how to operate, and a tape measure. The socket set I have is missing half of the sockets, and the handle thing that you attach them to. For me to take on a project of this magnitude was unwise. But by this time, I had told the kids how awesome (!) it was going to be, and like any project I undertake, I was optimistic. Early on. Armed with the yellow-tinted styrofoam (first hurdle), Krylon grey paint to overcome the yellow-tinted styrofoam, and a box cutter, I set out to make the stones.

It took me all of 30 minutes to tire of this. As with all home improvement projects, I sabotage myself by my utter lack of preparedness. I do not gather tools or measure: I forge ahead and wing it. Invariably I get pissed off, which only serves to make me hurry through said task until whatever it is, it looks like a child attempted it.

For the scary scary tombstones, I made a stencil on whatever piece of cardboard was lying around at the time, most certainly a wine box. This if course, had jagged edges- but hey- tombstones aren't ultra smooth, especially in the days when Val Kilmer was a cowboy, which was what I was going for. What I didn't realize was that a box cutter was not the optimal styrofoam cutting utensil, shredding it hopelessly. No matter, I pressed on, to the painting phase. Krylon claims their paint works on everything. I need to call them. It didn't really adhere to my yellow styrofoam. I had to handle them very gingerly, lest the paint smear and rub off, which naturally it did. I chose wisely not to wear gloves, so my hands looked like I had plunged them into the North Atlantic.

Originally, I visualized the quaint Western gravestone sayings to be sort of etched into the foam. Roadblock. I was at a loss as to how to do this. My patience was ebbing. So, sayings like " Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a .44. No Les No More" I inscribed with a Sharpie. This was mensa-level plan, except for the fact that the ink didn't really get any purchase, sort of bleeding into the paint and shifting it around. Oh well.

Second sharpie application.

When I was done, and had dutifully impaled the styrofoam at the bases with picture-hanger wire, I was ready to arrange my incredibly sad graveyard in our front yard. The only problem was that the bases were not deep enough to stand. That and the wire was not cut long enough to sink into the ground. So, with the slightest breeze- no yawn- of wind, they fell over. By this time, I was done with this particular project both literally and figuratively. I chose simply to make sure they were upright at dusk on Halloween. But I didn't plan for rain on that particular Halloween. My tombstones didn't scare anyone except for my wife, whose main fear was people would know she lived at this address.

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