Recalling Halloweens long ago. . .
|The only picture I have available at posting (I'm the dude with the orange nose)|
We went trick-or-treating. It was a good time. My wife and I take turns dressing up and accompanying the kiddos. It was my turn to trick-or-treat that year. My sister, dressed as a candy corn, brought a treat bag 'o beer and we walked the neighborhood. I was the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. My oldest daughter (then six) was a green grease-painted Elphaba (the wicked witch of the west from the musical Wicked) and my youngest (then almost three) was Dorothy complete with sparkly ruby slippers. My niece and nephew were dressed as a banana and a rabid bat respectively. My niece was disappointed because she kept getting called banana boy and Mr. banana. My nephew was frustrated because everyone referred to him as a wolf.
Before the festivities began, however, we all met at my parents' house for pizza. My youngest was fascinated by the bat mask, which was an sinister-looking latex and faux fur amalgam. When my nephew removed it, she'd steal it and clutch it to her chest like a teddy bear, toddling away with it.
After pizza we all marched up the hill to the neighborhood Halloween parade for pictures. Dorothy's ruby slippers kept slipping from her stockinged feet. We later taped them on with clear packing tape. Staples seemed 'wrong'.
When we left the parade for trick-or-treating it was still light. My sister credited the Bush administration with his greatest achievement in office, namely not "falling back" an hour until after Halloween. The majority of our evening out was spent in daylight.
With a beer in your hand you feel less ridiculous dressed as a Scarecrow. I held that and a flashlight. After every house I asked Elphaba if she'd said "thank you". Each "yes" became more and more exasperated. This pleased me. Eventually disgusted "yesses" turned into pre-emptive "don't say it, YES". I would stop asking for a few houses before dusting it off again later.
When it got dark, i would scribe a path of light on the pavement with flourishes of my maglight brand flashlight, each path punctuated with a sci-fi-esque noise. Elphaba began giving me dirty looks and shaking her fist at me, promising violence if I didn't stop being "weird". Eventually I ran out of new sounds to make and my niece said, "you already used that one." I told her I was recycling for the environment.
Halfway through the evening (trick-or-treating from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) I offered to carry Elphy's bag. It was heavy. From within my rope-belted pants, i drew out an empty plastic grocery bag, and she used it for the second half of the evening. By that point my two beers were gone and stowed safely in my sister's "treat bag". I carried a bag of candy in one hand and the flashlight in the other.
I don't like giving out candy (when I stay home), and I'm sure I'm not alone. We stopped at a house. The lights outside were off, but we could see someone was home. There were lights on inside, and the TV appeared to be on. The kids rang the doorbell. Nothing. They rang it again. I don't know how long we stood there, not long, but I was just in the process of telling them nobody was home, when a woman answered the door long enough to tell the kids that the lights weren't on and that meant that they weren't giving out candy. The kids took it MUCH better than I did. The lights inside WERE on. There were several houses just like it along our route and each of them WAS participating. Later on I threw a rock through her picture window. Cause fuck her.
Not really. I mean, fuck her, that much i mean, but I didn't really throw a rock through her window. Anyway, after commenting loudly about egging her house we moved on.
Brief Sidebar - 1) if you're going to hide from kids on Halloween. . . then hide. Don't come out of the house to tell them they're stupid because you don't have lights on and that means you're not home. It makes you look like a dumbfuck. 2) if you aren't participating for some whacked out religious kook reason, then leave a sign saying "no candy". I think that's a pretty universally understood sign, and the kids don't have time to waste knocking on your door and annoying the shit out of you. OR hand out religious nut job toys or candy instead. You know. . . spread the Word of the Lord instead of candy. Believe me, word will spread and the following year nobody will bother you. (end of sidebar)
At the end of the night we trudged up the hill into our familiar cul-de-sac and trick-or-treated the one last house, our own, and went inside to rest our feet and wash off our makeup.
After cleaning up, the kids took their sacks of candy into my family room and dumped them in heaps on the floor. They organized them according to preference or flavor or whatever category suited their cute little heads. Then the trading began. This has since become one of my favorite parts of the holiday. I needed to help my daughter a little with the concept. She was giving away all her candy. She was bartering like an Arab merchant by the end of the evening. Laffy Taffy for Nerds, Nerds for Hershey bars, Hershey bars for pixie stix. The kids all had their favorites and for the most part each kid's favorite was unique. So they all ended up with what they wanted.
There was a brief period of disaster as Dorothy re-entered the house and panicked rebagging of the candy piles ensued. She plowed into the middle of the piles with her ruby red slippers of death and began scattering Clark bars and Butterfings pell-mell before they were recaptured and rebagged by their respective owners and stowed in safer locations, unreachable by Dorothy.
When the bags were stowed, the makeup and costumes removed, jammies donned, children stuffed with candy, and Dorothy asleep in her field of poppies aka crib, we watched E.T. I Netflixed (in those days it was called Netflix. . . ) it. We borrowed "a cup of popcorn" from the neighbors, and I pan popped it and soaked it in butter.
We lay in the family room on couches and chairs, or sprawled across the carpet under warm blankets in the dimmed lights and watched E.T. The words "Penis breath" and "shit" caused me to close my eyes tiredly amidst the laughter of the children, but it's still a great family movie despite that. My daughter got scared and sad and a little panicked when E.T. "died" and I stayed close to her and whispered, "just wait. . . keep watching. . . " and stroked her hair. She liked it in the end, except "the scary part". My niece fell asleep on the couch. We all got a little misty.
When the movie ended, we bundled up sleepy children and sent them home or to bed and then went to bed ourselves. It couldn't have been later than 9:45 but it felt like midnight.
It was a happy Halloween.