...or treats?

Early evening, Halloween, small children begin their trek on cracked sidewalks. This is not the neighborhood I grew up in, but it very well could be, just another hamlet on the hill, a safe gathering of houses surrounded by green lawns, which remain as such until the ground freezes. The chill is slight. It slips from the clouds and the mountains where the sun descends. I sit huddled over a mug of coffee. There is a factory, a large factory hidden by hills and trees but on days like this, with the chill, the breeze, comes the smell of baked goods. I imagine what I would be doing if I were at their age; I remember the ritual, huddling in a group, discussing the night’s strategy. Let’s begin here, at the highest point of the neighborhood and we’ll work our way out hitting all the major hot spots and then rendezvous at the predetermined location, where counting and categorizing will happen. I never was much for the sour stuff, I don’t mess around, give me all sweet.

With every generation there are more options, the act of dressing up has become naively burlesque. Kids and their fashion sense grow up so quickly. Some boys, maybe 8 years old, have on dark suits and don cell phones, and the girls wear tight skirts and carry various homemade weapons. Now these children are sophisticated.

My coffee is black and on an evening like this a cup of warm cider seems more appropriate. I reach into my jacket and fish out the last piece of sugarless gum, maybe it will tide me over. There will be some party tonight but it’s much more appealing to think of myself sitting on this porch, passing out small portions of candy, and catching up on what the kids are into these days.

But the night will go like this:

…I’ll show up in something ambiguous and let people decide what I dressed up as…I will buy a pack of cigarettes with the intention of smoking all of them but end up giving half away, because the porch will be full of people drinking and begging for a cigarette…I will wonder the periphery and watch as people dance and speak loudly over thumping speakers. When the party dies that’s when I’ll meet up in the usual circle…we will do shots and talk about old times…remember college, this is what you did, you were crazy, we all had our crazy moments, remember poli-sci, how we broke into the classroom and got really drunk, didn’t someone puke or pee or do something behind the podium? As the crowd continues to thin I will help clean, sweep cigarette butts, gather abandoned cans…we will consolidate liquor. Here’s where the night gets a little unclear. You are there, near the front door, your costume dwindled to a high skirt and borrowed sweater. I’m not sure how long you’ve been present, for you had become a ghost, a spector floating in the rafters, hanging out in the dark disguised as bushes…hiding behind corners. But there you are as clear as the dawn about to break. I’m not sure a wave or nod is appropriate so I’ll leave it at a half smile…

I spit out my gum and pour the remainder of the coffee on a pile of leaves. This will no longer do. I need something much stronger. Some kids cross the lawn to where I sit. I hold up my arms to signal I am closed for business, no candy here, sorry, but these are seasoned trick-or-treaters; they grin and offer their pillowcases and plastic pumpkins. Kids still dress as pirates, but now it’s Johnny Depp, still, I can relate. I tell them to wait for a minute, I’ll figure something out, anyway, I have candy stored for just this type of situation.

...or treats?


Salt Lake City, United States

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