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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tricks and Treats

I've had some fun memories today of Halloweens past. What started me thinking about it all was seeing my friend Marie today. On this day last year, I was dog-sitting her sweet boy, Bowie. Bowie is gone from us now, like our dear little Paris, but the other day, Thayne, Marie's husband, mentioned that he was glad that Bowie spent his last Halloween with one of his favorite people in the world. Bowie was always very friendly, and whenever anyone came to the door he just knew they were there to see him. He loved company, and never barked when the doorbell rang. Needless to say, trick-or-treaters were high on his list of fun visitors. The weather was very mild last year, so there were something like seventy-five kids who came by the house. 

When the candy distribution began, Bowie was right on top of the job. I was in the kitchen using the computer, but when someone came to the front door, Bowie wag-walked to the kitchen to let me know that he had company. When the door was opened, he tried to at least put his head out to see the kids and say hi. Of course, I had to be careful, because he loved to get out the front door and just run. Stinker. The highlight of the evening, for both of us, was when four little girls came up to the door together. As I put candy in each child's bag, she would ask, "Can I pet your dog?" They each stroked and patted his head, and he licked each little girl's hand. It was absolutely precious.

For the first thirty or so kids, Bowie was right there, ready to jump up and notify his MyKatrina (Bowie's name for me) and meet and greet his visitors. As the evening progressed, though, he started to get tired. I found myself telling him to get off of his sofa and come to the door. He would look at me as if asking if he had company again. By the time the kid count hit the high fifties, Bowie was worn out from the excitement. Being popular and loved can be so exhausting! Before the last bell was rung and the last candies given away, Bowie had put himself to bed in his kennel. I asked if he was really going to be lazy and go to bed. He just looked at me, sighed, and closed his eyes. Within a few minutes, he was asleep, and slept through the last few sets of treat-seekers. A guy can only handle so much, you know.

Then I was reminiscing about the few years that I went trick-or-treating. I don't remember going when I was in Chicago, and my last time was as an eleven-year-old sixth-grader. Gram got me all dolled up as a Gypsy. I felt like I was really cool because I had all sorts of jewelry on, and my face was made up. Okay, it was probably only red lipstick. But I was wearing lipstick! Like a grown-up! My neighbor friends and I always went together. I remember that we had all switched from paper bags to pillowcases in order to more easily bring home a much larger stash. We also tried to scheme our way into getting more candy by being as boisterous as possible. We were sure that if we were really loud, the people giving out candy would think that there was a big bunch of us. Then they would grab big handfuls of candy and give it all to us rather than drop it back into their bowl. It may have even worked once or twice per block. And yes, sometimes we covered a block twice. And we sometimes did the whole"trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat," routine. Good, clean fun.

There were also some homes on our block that really had some cool stuff going on. Next door to us were the Fry family. Karlene, their daughter, was several years older than us and out of school and working. She used to have costume parties, and she always gave out full-size chocolate bars! On the other side of the street was the Cito family. Their son Anthony took over the decorating duties from his dad when he got to high school age, assisted by Johnny and Jamey, the Brady boys. And yes, I had a crush on all three of them. They always did some sort of display that involved a sophisticated candy delivery system. We always made sure to let them know that we were neighbors. In fact, they asked kids coming up to the door who they were. I know for certain that we scored extra candy because of living across the street. 

My favorite display was a scarecrow theme. There were bales of hay on the porch, and a not-too-scary scarecrow was seated on them. He was plump and jolly in his jeans and plaid shirt, smoking his corncob pipe, and speaking through a specially rigged sound system. When we introduced ourselves, we were told to put our bags under the scarecrow's hand. They had somehow set up a tube delivery system through the mail slot, which was next to the front door. The candy would come jetting out of the scarecrow's sleeve, right into your bag. And I don't mean it just fell down a tube. I think they must have used their vacuum cleaner on blower mode to transport the candy. It was fabulous, and made the girls on the block adore these older boys even more.

When I was twelve and in seventh grade, I assumed the duties of candy distribution. Every year for the rest of her life, Gram always reminded me, "Only one piece." I always said yes, I knew, and I always gave two or more, unless the kids were rude, which seldom happened. I still got candy, and I made sure to have plenty of my favorites left over, even though I always gave out some of everything. I grew to enjoy seeing all of the kids in all of their clever costumes. There were usually some kids that were too young to be out, and they were frightened and tearful. I was impressed with the sweetness and politeness of most kids. They were eager to get to as many homes as possible to stock up on candy, but they always said thank you. And when you praised their costume, or acted surprised or afraid, it was more delicious to them than any candy in the world. 

It's after eight p.m. now, and nobody has come to our apartment door. But if they should, I am willing and prepared to give them mini candy bars. And I will be frightened by zombies, vampires, and witches, enchanted by princesses, and impressed with creativity and excitement. And thank yous. They will thank me for my candy, and I will be thankful to help them build fond memories. Everyone wins at this game, I guess! Enjoy your treats!