Scary reflections on a
I’ve been writing this column for
10 years now. Every October, I am stumped. The editor always reminds me my
column was due “yesterday.” I always respond that I have no idea, and ask if
there’s a “theme.” There never is.
But it’s October. There IS a theme, and it’s Halloween. I
can’t believe I’ve never rambled on about Halloween.
It’s my least favorite holiday. That’s because, as a kid,
I never got to be what I wanted at Halloween: a princess or a fairy. My
mother thought a clown or a hobo was more appropriate. In retrospect, Mom
was right. I am far more suited to a clown or hobo. I sometimes laughingly
refer to myself as a “goddess,” but a princess? No.
Thank heavens I no longer have to “dress up” for
Halloween. I do not like costumes, unless I’m wearing one on a stage. I
recently attended a “Tacky Tourist” party. I wore my regular clothes, and
fit right in with guests who spent hours putting their costumes together.
I really do delight at seeing little kids in costumes.
Adults? Not so much. I spent too many years in Key West and San Francisco to
be impressed or surprised. I have seen a man painted completely silver, on
roller skates, calling himself “Mercury.” I have seen a guy on stilts,
portraying Daryl Hannah in Attack of the 50-foot Woman. I think I may well
have seen it all.
A few weeks ago, I did a feature story on a “womanless
beauty pageant.” It was a hometown, country-boy version of what I’d seen in
Fire Island and Provincetown. If I never see another fellow in an evening
gown, it will be too soon.
It’s time to buy candy for trick-or-treaters. I do this
now, although I haven’t had a goblin at my door in at least 10 years.
I have handed out apples, oranges, anything I could grab
from the fridge or pantry, including an avocado. I won’t forget that child’s
face as he peered into his basket. Talk about surprised.
In the past, I found myself surprised to discover it was
Halloween. I didn’t realize it until my doorbell rang, and then it was too
late. I had just moved into my San Francisco flat one Oct. 31. I was busy
unpacking and had no idea it was a holiday. That night, I discovered I had a
doorbell with a loudly alarming sound. I have heard fire sirens that were
I opened the door to find a porch full of kids. None were
wearing costumes, but all were holding brown paper grocery bags, and
shouting “Trick or treat!” They were accompanied by hulking, scary-looking
escorts. I was frightened, sure, but it wasn’t a happy, Halloween-type of
I gulped. I had absolutely nothing to give them. And they
weren’t leaving until I did. Thinking fast, I spied a giant jar of change my
housemate collected. So, I dropped a handful into each kid’s bag.
Word spread quickly that the crazy new neighbor lady was
giving away money. The cursed doorbell was still ringing at 4 a.m.
There are few “neighborhoods” in rural locales. Houses are
far-flung. Trick-or-treaters are few. We have one populous neighborhood in
Bath: Bacova. It is a legendary haunt for Halloween visitors. I have heard
that busloads from West Virginia have arrived to unleash sugar-crazed
goblins on the place.
I was surprised again by Halloween when I lived in
Millboro. The little village is also a populous place, albeit more spread
out than Bacova.
When the first knock on the door came that Halloween
night, I had to scramble yet again. This time, I was handing out cans of
soup and jars of peanut butter.
Before long, a crowd of perhaps 40 adults and kids had
gathered on my sidewalk. This time, I couldn’t hide behind the anonymity of
San Francisco. These people knew very well who I was, and if I didn’t come
through, well, there could be consequences.
“Let me run to the store!” I shouted to the throngs.
I hastened to the nearby Millboro General Store. I bought
up every bag of candy I could find. When I returned, the crowd had swelled.
I couldn’t even get into my driveway.
I exhausted my candy supply, and myself, that night. Since
then, I’ve vowed to be prepared. How about a nice hard-boiled egg? You love
‘em at Easter; why not on Halloween?