Sunday, November 01, 2015

All dressed up with nowhere to go

The nights are getting longer but Halloween just flies by.

I've seen the last dozen pass by at the frenetic pace of a strobe-light. It's eerie.

My daughter the princess. My son the peacock. The witch. The pirate. The cheerleader. The bat. The cat. The shark. The superhero. The vampire. His favorite cartoon character. The protagonist in her favorite book.

I'd almost forgotten how sweet it was finding ways to make their wildest masquerade dreams come true. It seemed like eons ago.

My kids, for the most part now, devise their own costumes from remnants of costumes past, or thrift-store finds I will dutifully shred, or affix wings to, or spray paint some unnatural color.

They don't need us to eat all the unwanted candies that messes up their smooth with nutty or chunky. Their tastes are evolving.

It won't be long until we unleash them on the world, and hang back, hoping they haven't secreted away our last toilet paper rolls for some anti-neighborly ghost paper misdeeds.

But not just yet.

Just yet we are still following in the dark at a greater distance, perhaps, but still within view. They look back at us, seeking a nod and permission, before crossing the street.

We'll catch up by the next street, even if we have to sprint.

Our house is empty, except for the animals, who don't much mind the strangers Halloween attracts. Of course, that could be because we don't have a doorbell to send them into a panic.

However, we leave the porch lights on and a bowlful of candy propped in a chair as we made our way through the rest of the neighborhood in the pitch of night.

I'll admit, it's just the cut-rate stuff – the individually wrapped gumballs, artificially flavored taffies, and miniature lollypops. I'm softhearted, not stupid.

By the time we return from our own lawn-crossing, doorbell-ringing, trick-or-treat-begging circuit I know the bowl will likely be emptied.

Now I'd like to think a horde of fancy-dressed tots struggling to hold their masks at an eye level position while keeping their plastic pumpkins from spilling all their hard-earned sweets – a horde we have historically missed – descended like locust on our offering at the same time we swarmed across lighted doorsteps across town. Their parents, as we had done, would remind their children to “take only one piece” and say “Don't forget to say thank-you.”

But we don't usually get that many visitors. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole bowl wound up in one or two sacks though I can't say I don't smile at the thought of the mouthful of cavities the gluttons might get in return for their greed.

I refill the candy dish with the good stuff; the chocolates and caramels and nougats. The stuff I hope will be leftover when the kids, still wearing makeup and part of their costumes, are tucked into their beds and sleeping the sleep of the sugared-up dead.

Who am I kidding?

This is the cheap stuff, too. The 50-percent-off brands we bought the day before yesterday, not long after eating the full-priced stuff we hid behind the high fiber cereals when no one was looking. We broke into that candy the same day it came home from the store. (Of course, you do know I mean the royal “We.”) The ROYAL WE have replaced the stash of chocolates I can't say how many times.

Even the lowliest of confections look more expensive wearing chocolate.

“Hey … where have you been hiding this?” my husband asks as he dips his mitt into the bowl and claws up a fun-sized handful.

“Shhhh. Don't tell the kids,” I hiss as I pivot the palm of my hand and dig in. "Consolation prize."

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