Halloween for life
“Come to the party,” Morgan said to Jeremy.
Jeremy stalled; he had other ideas for Halloween. “I want to pass out candy,” he said.
“Why?” Morgan asked, incredulous. “You won’t have any trick-or-treaters anyway.”
Morgan and his partner lived near the top of their street, and generally got a fair stream of children, while Jeremy and Lyssa’s apartment was at the cul de sac and up a flight.
“I’ll get some,” Jeremy protested, and they wagered a beer against his receiving 10.
Jeremy got busy. He carved six pumpkins and placed them on the steps, he put up lights (Christmas lights, but whatever), and he painted a sign with the word “Candy.” On Halloween, he blasted the movie “Ghostbusters” out open windows.
“Got 10,” Jeremy texted Morgan at the party.
Another knock. Jeremy was just about to send, “Got 31!” when the door opened. There stood Morgan, dressed as Frankenstein, holding out a beer.
In my early childhood, our gregarious father once carried a cocktail glass to take my older sister, Meg, and me out trick-or-treating. We raised our bags, and he held out his glass. All of us loved Halloween. We kids always made costumes or put them together using hand-me-downs and old “dress-up” clothes. At age 3 I wore a cardboard box, a pink and a green towel peering from beneath it, with a sign saying, “Ham sandwich, 10¢.” At 7, when I had a pixie haircut, I wore a blazer and carried a guitar, as a Beatle. I remember at about 9 cutting out sides of a cardboard box, whitewashing them, and painting on the 3 of hearts so I could be a playing card. At 10 or 11 I was finally old enough to wear the “harem girl” costume I’d so admired Meg in, an “I Dream of Jeannie” confection composed of our ballet tights and leotards under filmy old curtains, the effect of which was ruined when my mother made me wear my navy blue ski jacket on top.
Mostly, though, I remember the sheer, intense happiness of the occasion; even standing in my ballet lesson thinking, “This is really the day.”
My sons when younger always trick-or-treated. Somehow I was away in Banff with the new baby on the Halloween night that my husband took Teddy, newly 3, out for some soup before the evening and candy. “I saw that soup again,” he said on the phone, “because as soon as I put him to bed he threw up.”
The boys — at every age — would return home and carefully lay out every stick of candy on the rug by the kitchen, grouping, charting and comparing.
Those two are long since taller than I, but our only neighbors have two boys, Kenny, 8, and Dylan, 6, and each year we abjectly beg them to come over on Halloween. If they are short on time, we run up to their house, candy bowl outstretched. When Teddy (now Ted) went away to college, we took pictures of Kenny and Dylan in their costumes, and texted them. Dylan, proud of the dorsal fin on his shark suit, turned carefully sideways to display it.
“Awesome!” Ted instantly texted back. “That is hilarious.”
The next year Dylan insisting on wearing the shark costume again though it was now tight and short, exposing several inches of smooth shank above his socks, and I sent Ted that image. This year for the first time both of my sons are gone to college, and I’ll text photos to both, and they will want them.
We get no other trick-or-treaters, but I always want to see the pageant, can’t stand missing it, and even feel a vestige of the old excitement as I drive down into town to watch from a friend’s house. Two or three times in the last few years I have gone in and, slightly sheepishly, sat on the front steps of Tyler and Megan’s place to see the dressed-up children arrive and to watch their daughter, Annabelle, 9, and son, Sam, 7, preside over the treat baskets.
In fact, when my name came up recently and Annabelle looked blank, her mother said, “Alison who comes over on Halloween.”
“Oh, yeah!” Annabelle said. “Alison who comes on Halloween.”
Megan said I can do it again this year, and I will.
“Femaelstrom” appears on the third Friday of each month. Alison Osius lives in Carbondale, where she is a climber, skier and magazine editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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