This is the first year that I've lived in a house that gets trick or treaters, and it was everything I hoped it would be. For adults, Halloween begins at about 2PM; everyone is out front raking their yards, hanging cobwebs on their house numbers, and arranging jack o'lanterns in the front yard. The children are all out in the yard, too: nervous and expectant like barnayard animals before an earthquake. Ask them questions about their costume, and you'll get an enthusaistic, but distracted, response. Obviously, they're all concentrating on making time go faster -- which is especially hard on the first day after daylight savings time ends, the slowest day of the year. "Oh, look, it's only 2PM!" say the adults happily, leaning on their rakes and thinking about all the laundry left to do. The kids go back to swinging in the tree. For the hundredth time.
Things speed up as dusk approaches. Relatives arrive to help man the ramparts, kids disappear upstairs for dress rehearsal, and the pumpkins get lit. Finally, the sound of the starting gun -- the ubiquitous Spooky Sounds of Halloween
tape, played through stereo speakers in Billy and Paula's window across the street.
Kate and I handed out candy to: four pirates, three soccer players, three cheerleaders, four Eagles players, three beach bums, four assorted ghouls with plastic halberds, threshers, or clubs (three male, one female,) two clowns, two Santas (one large, one small), one land shark with a leg dangling from his mouth, two Freddies, three Jasons, two Dorothys, two power rangers, two Batmans (one regular, one Batman Beyond), two GIs, two druids, two bunnies, one Harry Potter, two cats, two firemen, and no less than thirteen witches. Oh, and a sorority all dressed as Smurfs. Together with all the one-off costumes (one ninja, one ballerina, one poodle-skirt dancer, one patriot -- like a pirate, but a drum instead of an eyepatch,) we handed out candy to no fewer than one hundred twenty-six kids between 6PM and 8PM.
A five-year old was dressed as a mouse, with a big, furry head. He climbed up on our porch and held both hands to his ears in an exhausted door-to-door salesman way. "I need a drink
!" he sighed, which was startling until I realized he probably was just asking me for a juice box. Probably.
At 8PM sharp, all the porch lights go out, and the pumpkins go into garbage bags. Which was overdue, in our case -- our jack o'lanterns had been a couple of weeks ago when Kate's brother Matt came to visit (more on Kate's Blog
.) His pumpkin had softened from the rapacious, toothy grin pictured above to a soft, lopsided leer. Which was scary, but... moist, and eloquent of summer's decay.
Lydia wore a strawberry hat, and charmed all comers. Then went to bed under duress.