I've been dipping into the goody stash, I admit. Not leftover candy we'd bought for door-to-door beggars, but the children's loot from last night. Our household was closed for business during the trick-or-treat hour, because for us, Halloween is a family affair. We head out in the dark together with one goal in mind: get as much candy as we can in the shortest amount of time that physical fitness and rules of etiquette allow. My husband is the king of speedy shortcuts and will scale retaining walls and small topiaries with both offspring on his back. He will trod through your newly-planted pansy bed in silence, leaving every petal undisturbed. He's Captain Lightfoot-and I mean that in a very manly way. He would actually make a very good burglar. It may come to that.
This wasn't our best year-maybe because the holiday fell on a Saturday and the festivities--trunk or treat, school parade, and beggar's night--were spread over three days. Maybe it was the fact that we carved our pumpkins too early, they got moldy and had to be thrown out. But there was something else, too...oh, wait. It rained. When I saw all-day showers in the forecast, I called my mother for confirmation: It had never rained on Halloween before. My childhood Halloweens were snappy, cold-autumnal. There was a crunch in the air. Perhaps a snow flurry. This southern October is highly unpredictable, and as it turns out, soggy. We slogged through the neighborhood on wet leaves with tutus dampened and Darth Vader masks malfunctioning in the mist. Our paper-bag treat sacks bottomed out, we couldn't muster the strength for speed. There was kind of a universal fade going on among some of the kids on our cul-de-sac. Sure, there were a few children who, come hell or high water were out for blood in the high-fructose sense of the word, mostly grade-schoolboys whose sheer delight in the gore of the holiday produced a certain level of lawlessness-and really, why would I want to take that away from them? I mean, when else can a fourth-grader drag his own severed arm behind him, brandish a bloody meat-cleaver, and main-line Skittles, all at the same time?
Our crew-we're not really carnage people. Or clammy polyester people. That fade I mentioned earlier? This year, instead of begging to stay out even later, I believe I heard , for the first time,"please can this be the last house?" from someone measuring less than five feet. Most noteworthy, though, was the sweet neighbor girl saying "Daddy, can't you just get the candy for me?" There's an idea, I thought. Parents as candy agents. Fathers in windbreakers, armed with pillowcases full of Kit Kats, not being mistaken for child predators. Imagine that. I saw them later, snug in the heated mini-van. She was smiling in her candy corn costume, her father beside her. I think they were reading. I told my husband that I liked this scene. She knew when she was done, nevermind the sugary lure of more.
We followed suit, stripping off the wet and cold right inside, pulling on pajamas and lighting a fire, followed by the ritual combining of the loot. This is how we work: pool it together and binge for a day, then whatever's left disappears to my husband's office to be later used for bribes, etc. To be clear, those being blackmailed are not the employees-just our children. Me, occasionally. I will do bad things for a fun-size Heath Bar. Produce a Whatchamacalit and I'm yours.
So this qualifies as binge day. Except I think I'm finished. It's sunny this morning, and last night feels a million miles away. At some point, the neighbor's giant inflatable spider-crawling-out-of-a-pumpkin was stolen, along with our small black crow statue. And since the jack-o-lanterns never got their fifteen minutes, there's very little clean-up. Aside from the candy wrappers.