Halloweenie Party Favor

pumpkins

The fire blazed a bright orange against the dark, cool night.  An old man with a beard heaved a log onto the flames, sending a whoosh of a thousand sparks into the air like a fireworks show in the middle of summer.

“Thanks, Firekeeper,” someone yelled from the crowd that circled the bonfire.

A zombie nurse and an overgrown Brownie jumped out of the way with squeals as hot ashes landed on their bare legs and arms.  What did you expect standing that close to an open fire?  I mentally growled at them from my perch atop a tractor tire.

I sat between the rubber treads; a huge, round woman dressed as a pumpkin, with green felt leaves and stem bobby pinned into my hair, waiting unhappily on a ride.  Three treads over, a jail bird husband nervously refreshed his phone, in hopes that a driver had picked up the request.    

Unfortunately, we were in the middle of a four cornfields and miles away from the city.  We had not anticipated the Uber and Lyft shortage of rural Indiana or of the nerve wracking nature in being at a costume party, elbow to elbow with drunk people and seven months pregnant. 

I felt like a character in a video game, the crazy clowns, police, walking dead, Gumbies and Trump-alikes were out to get me with their elbows, props and disoriented bodies.  I had to dodge big men and little women alike to escape from the warmth of the barn and into the open air with my jail bird following closely behind me, just as concerned about the perils of the party.

When we finally got a ride, it was with a MAGA Trumpster who couldn’t hold in his thoughts about his beloved leader, sexual assault and his interpretation of consent, and lastly, the current state of his marriage. I wasn’t sure if we would ever make it back to the safety of our home.   

Last year, it would have been just another crazy weekend of going out without consequences or responsibilities aside from the hangover that awaited us the following morning.  Now, the world feels different, somehow spinning more quickly and with more gravity than before, one in which we have an unborn babe to protect and raise until he can go out and make equally poor choices as us, like going to a party without a real plan to get home.

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Real Life Monsters

monster

Once a year, we open our door, flip on the light and wait for monsters to visit.  We welcome them, in spite of their threats of tricks and unreasonable demands to smell their feet, with candy.

It’s my husband’s favorite holiday, far surpassing that of Thanksgiving or my birthday.  He prepares in advance by selecting special treats, canceling any plans that don’t involve passing out fun sized candy bars and waiting in excited anticipation. 

This year, he positioned himself by the door with a bowl of candy.  He cracked his knuckles, stretched his arms, and bent over to touch his toes and stood back up like he was preparing for a half marathon.

“We’re in for a big night, we have to be ready.  I can feel it,” he explained with unexplainable certainty as the clock ticked towards six o’clock.

Sure enough, a steady stream of visitors arrived shortly after the designated start time, one after another.  The first friends of the night were a cluster of superheroes with shiny, plastic masks and capes. 

They stood on the steps outside of the door, while holding orange pumpkin baskets and called out in unison, “Trick or Treat.” 

A group of golden wig wearing princesses followed closely behind the boys.  They gave a respectful thirty seconds to allow the superheroes time to walk down the steps and onto the sidewalk before bounding up to the steps to the door.  Their parents waited at the edge of the sidewalk, close enough to give a pseudo impression of independence or to rush in at a moment’s notice.

Meanwhile, the giver of candy generously continued to pass out handfuls of candy as the night went on, and the visitors began to arrive by vehicle instead of on foot.  They came from nearby neighborhoods where it’s not safe to knock on a stranger’s door and visitors are not welcomed with smiles and snacks. 

We watched as an old van with a missing tail light and a wide array of dents puttered past our lookout point/house and pulled off to the side of the road to unload what seemed like 10 or 20 kids.  They organized and dispersed as quickly as a group of sugar-crazed and costumed children are able to do under the direction of an over worked and exhausted set of adults.

They came to our house twice, assuming we wouldn’t notice perhaps because they were in disguise.   With each visit, they held out their little bags and baskets, and some said thanks and others simply ran off once they had a few pieces of candy. 

A straggler arrived after the group’s second visit, close to the end of the approved trick or treating hours, a tiny child with an eerie green glow to her face.  She wore a mop on her head, dyed the same color, covered with cotton cobwebs.  It was an elaborate but low-cost costume that was hard to forget.  She was accompanied by her mother, a woman in a black hoodie with a huge purse on her shoulder.

“You can pick what you want,” the Candygiver leaned down and offered the dish of treats to the little girl.

Her brown eyes shone in the night, catching the porch light and reflecting it back like two cosmic stars.  She reached into the dish with a pudgy green hand and grabbed a packet of Runts and Gobstoppers.

“Good choice, those are my favorite.”

The man nodded in encouragement, the green creature smiled up at him for a brief second of human connection.  She glowed a brighter green, invigorated by the praise and strengthened with his kindness.

Then the little girl’s mother swooped in and smacked her hand, “Those are choking hazards.”  

The woman glared at the man with butterfly wings for eyelashes that made their own wind with each flutter.  The little girl dropped the hard candies and stepped back; she stared at the Candyman in anger at his betrayal.  She wasn’t sure what a choking hazard was but her mama’s tone told her all she needed to know.  Candyman was a bad man.      

“Shame on you,” the woman said as she reached into the candy dish extracting no fewer than five bite sized Milky Way candy bars with orange and black striped artificial nails.

She shook her head in disappointment as she dropped the candy into her daughter’s bucket and went back for another handful of candy.  This time, she included the dangerous Runts and feared Gobstoppers in her claw and dropped this loot into her purse.  Grabbing her daughter’s hand, she marched down the steps and sashayed into the darkness of the night. 

Until next year.  Farewell and good luck, little green monster. 

Heart of gold and other business matters

candy-bowl

“We close up shop when the candy is gone and not a minute sooner.  These kids need candy,” my husband informed me with all seriousness on Halloween.   It was a very dramatic moment in our lives and the first time that I learned of his passion for trick-or-treating.

Naturally, I had been pressing for an early end to the trick-or-treating free-for-all that was taking place on our street.  A simple flick of the switch to the front porch light is all is would have required and his patrons would have taken their business elsewhere.   However, under his watch this proved to be impossible as he eyed me suspiciously every time I walked in the vicinity of the light switch.

So I gave into the spirit of the night and helped the Halloween enthusiast who is my spouse to hand out tiny boxes of Skittles and Nerds.  I have to admit his excitement was contagious as Ebola.  It was something I dreaded catching and when I finally did, I hoped it would all be over soon.

When we had a lull in activity, he anxiously paced and continuously checked the window.  He peered out through the blinds onto the darkened street with great concern.

“Porch light is on but no trick-or-treaters,” he said to himself, looking left and right for shadowy figures moving on the street.

Several costumed delinquents were suddenly spotted and he practically squealed with delight.  After he gave them handfuls of the fun-sized candies, and we closed the door, he sat down with a satisfied sigh claiming another set of happy customers.

By the end of the evening, we had a total of 10 visitors and a very proud man.  He declared it a good night of business and began on his improvement plans for the next year.  Full sized candy bars instead of fun-sized candy packs and matching costumes for the two of us, inflatable lawn ornaments and pumpkins for the front porch were all among his plans.  He explained this was a long term business plan and the trick-or-treaters would tell their friends for the next year.  I could see the stars in his eyes as he dreamed of his empire, to be built on candy and costumes.

It would have been pointless to remind him that trick-or-treating wasn’t a business because to the son of a shopkeeper everything was business.

Hiding out on Halloween

How to Grow Pumpkins

It doesn’t take much to bring out my antisocial tendencies.  A drop in the temperature to anything below 40 is enough to keep me inside even on the best bar “holiday” of the year.  Add in rain with the chance for snow and it guarantees my place on the couch, thoughtfully watching the world from the window.

So far I’ve only seen a deranged child clown leading a pack of hobos each carrying bulging bags of what I can only assume are filled with candy.  As they shuffled by, I most fervently hoped that the costumed gang would pass our darkened doorway for the homes of our neighbors with carved pumpkins on the steps, orange lights outlining the porch, and giant inflatable lawn pumpkins.

I question myself at times like this when there isn’t a single place in the world I would rather be than curled up on my couch next to my sweet husband.  He is ready to face the elements for a night out on the town yet willing to stay in with me.  We used to be out every weekend at a party or a bar and now we stay in if the weather is bad or a good show is on tv or the cats seem extra needy.

Fortunately, we are stocked up on lunch meat, pumpkin beer, and a bowl of fun-sized candies intended for the trick-or-treaters.  It’s warm and cozy inside and we have everything we need, including a sense of appreciation for the simple things like microwave popcorn and scary movies on cable.

These are the nights.

Bah humbug, Halloween!

Sharing in the seasonal love for the upcoming holidays, I got into the mood by festively decorating my cubicle.

I surprised everyone around my cube by going all out for the upcoming occasion; I brought in a new mug with a red leaf on it, set it on my desk, and filled it with candy.

“Wow,” my co-worker remarked, clearly impressed with my undeniable holiday spirit.

She quickly caught on that decorating for Halloween was not very high on my priority list.

By comparison, there is another cubicle with a huge cut out of a witch swinging from a broom stick, unburned orange and black candles lining the edge of the desk interspersed with gords and tiny pumpkins.  It’s a mini version of a neighborhood that I walk through filled with cotton spider webs hanging from doorways and windowsills with scary little black spider just off center.  Ghosts and ghouls line the drive ways and perfectly carved jack-o-lanterns sit on the edge of their porch steps.

While I do not care quite this much for decorations, I do care for my co-workers enough to put out more than hard mints or candy corn.  In fact, I like my co-workers well enough to put out the good candy: bite sized Twix and Snickers, Starbursts, 3 Musketeers, and little Hersey’s bars.

By the end of yesterday, I left the office feeling the joy of sharing and completely in the holiday spirit.  My co-workers were thrilled to have a mid-day chocolate break and even came back later to take a snack for the road. They were grateful for a treat and glad for a distraction from work, even if it was something as simple as a bite-sized Snicker’s bar.

Today, I returned to my cubicle first thing in the morning, beating most of my co-workers there, only to discover that I had been robbed!

My mug was empty, or very nearly.

I could only assume it was the cleaning crew who trick-or-treated all of the candy out of the mug, strangely leaving just the Starbursts behind.

They took my candy and my holiday spirit with them.

Bah humbug, Halloween!  Bah humbug, crummy cleaning crew!

Why do a few bad apples have to ruin the entire bag?

I suppose that is like asking why can’t a person, or people, (I’m thinking about you, cleaning crew guys) just do the right thing?  Why can’t a person just take one piece of candy and not empty the entire container into one of the many pockets of their big baggy cargo shorts?  Just because something is free, does that mean that one person (or a crew of two in this case) should take it all and leave only the undesirables behind?

As a social worker, this is my constant struggle in keeping my metaphorical mug filled with candy to share with others, which goes against the odds and in spite of all else.  In short, please, don’t give out tricks this Halloween, reader.  It’s hard enough to deal with the treats of the season.

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