This week has just been weird for me. Don’t know how else to put it. Work’s been a pain in the rear and now my hemorrhoids are flaring up adding physical discomfort to the rear front. Don’t fear, I promise not to go into a long discussion about the problems with my backside.
What I’d like to know is why at 5:00 pm on a Sunday afternoon with the skies beginning to darken do I hear the sound of a chainsaw? I’ve got weird neighbors too – not scary weird – eccentric weird. Except maybe for that one guy, but the rumor is that he dropped out of that motorcycle gang.
Now if we had been in the path of hurricane Sandy I could understand hearing lots of chain saws as people worked to clear roads, driveways, backyards, hot tubs… But dudes – 5 on a Sunday afternoon in California? Chill, get a beer, watch the game – turn the chainsaw off.
The other weirdness this week was Halloween. Okay the holiday is a bit strange to start with and I’ve never really enjoyed the more gruesome imagery of the event. I’ve never like horror films and go out of my way to avoid even seeing the ads for them. I find skulls, vampires and Frankenstein to be disturbing images and concepts that should be purged from our collective conscience and replaced with butterflies, puppies, and kittens.
If I were king, Halloween would be banned. Except for the part were little kids dress up in costume and collect candy. In my world candy givers would have to be registered and required to under go training before they’d be allowed to hand-it-out (we all read the horrible things some wackos will to do little ones). Kids not saying “Trick or Treat” or “Thank you” would be subject to arrest and could lose all the candy they’ve collected (enforceable by any certified candy giver or the Halloween police) – alright just the ones over six but parents would be required to prompt the very little ones.
The block I live on doesn’t have many children. Most of us this end of the street are older folk having had the joy of seeing our kids move out, finally. But on the street one block over is this set of apartments that is just teaming with kids. We usually buy about four pounds of mixed candy (including those little mini candy bars – we’re a good house to stop at) and I normally take the candy giver job. No, not just because I can sneak a piece of candy for myself from time to time…
But rather because I just like to. It’s fun. That simple. The children are all cute in their costumes and in the ways they find to embarrass their parents. I think part of the point of the holiday is to prove to parents that they haven’t done a good training job on their kids. One little boy, about four, was standing in the crowd at my door waiting his turn for me to drop treats into his bag when suddenly he shouted, “lollypop” and shot his hand into my candy bowl and grabbed a Tootsie Pop. He was half way down the driveway before his embarrassed father reached him. I closed the door before the father could force the little guy to return his treasure.
I saw something new in costumes this year – light up angle’s wings. Kind of cool actually and a great safety device. This older girl was at the door saying, “wow you have a nice house, it’s like walking into a garden,” while her wings gently glowed green. I don’t think she ever said, “Trick or Treat,” but I decided to reward the flattery and she got two mini chocolate bars. I just hope that when she grows up she uses that power for good and not evil.
Sometimes the costume makes more sense after the child speaks. One boy, about eight I’d guess, came to the door dressed as a spaceman – just like Dave out of 2001, same spacesuit. Right next to our front door we have a stone lion. On his way out he pats it on the head and says, “Nice doggy.”
“That’s a lion,” Corrected his mother.
“Naw, it’s a dog,” says the spaceman – space case in the making there.
In between handing out candy I was working in my shop which is in the front of the house. From my shop I could hear most of the kids trooping up the driveway (even with my certified hearing loss) and most times I got to the door about the same time as the kids. In one case I heard a little voice say, “No one’s home, let’s go.”
This despite the fact I had on all the lights on out front and the candy bowl was clearly visible through the glass door to the atrium.
“Ring the door bell,” was the clearly exasperated adult response from the driveway. I opened the door before the girl could ring the bell and for a moment I thought I saw her mother pushing her forward. I did get a weak, “Trick or Treat” but a stronger thank you when she saw the candy drop in the bag. I just hope her mother took half the candy for herself when they got home – you know for agent fees.
Most of the real little ones were just clueless about what was going on. Happy to get candy but not understanding why they have to march all around the neighborhood to get it. One very little girl (three or four), dressed as a fairy godmother or good witch or some such (she had a wand with a heart on it that she kept hitting her bother with) when mom prompted her to say “Thank you,” she instead said, “Can I be done now?”
An older boy, about eight was delighting in trying his mother’s patience. Instead of saying, “Trick or Treat” when I opened the door he said, “Hi how you doin’?”
I understood that he was just having fun annoying his mother as I dropped a piece candy in his bag saying, “Awesome, Dude, cool costume.”
His mother was saying, “No you say ‘trick or treat’”
“Why? The dude gave me some candy.” Then he turned, started down the driveway and called out over his shoulder, “Later dude.”
Cool, perfectly understandable Californian language use by a future prison inmate.
You get to see all kinds and you wonder what these little ones will be when they grow up. Some like mister cool dude have a future career in law enforcement – one side of the bars or the other. Some will aggressively seek what they want and some will have to be pushed. Some will know clearly what to do and some will remain clueless. But they will all grow up to be something.
And like the locust the Trick or Treaters left as quickly as they descended . At eight o’clock the candy bowl was nearly-empty (hey – we adults get our cut of the action) and I turned out the lights.
Next year the hordes will return and we’ll see new costumes but likely the same tired parents repeating the mantra, “Say thank you.”
The neighborhood is quiet again. Seems like the darkness has driven Mr. Chainsaw indoors and sitting is now no longer comfortable so I’ll say good night before you get the full essay on my health.