Oh, there was a moment at the height of activity, when I I could hear all the eager, chirping little voices up and down the block, that I regretted my decision not to ‘do’ Halloween. But that brief bit of weakness was easier to bear than the continuous hours of standing at the door handing out individually wrapped parcels of long-acting poison.
My neighborhood has lots of kids. I mean lots. The first couple of years we lived here we kept a written tally – well over 300 kids each year. There aren’t as many now – the ethnic composition of Highland has changed from predominantly Catholic Hispanic to young professionals with few or no children. Still, from dusk until nine or so, it’s a steady stream, sometimes two or three groups arriving at once. If there are two of you, you can spell each other. Alone I have to stand tethered to the door for hours.
And it’s not like I know these kids, other than Cal next door and Emma and Holden across the street. There’s no chance to ooo and aah over their costumes or to ask them to perform a trick, as the adults in my neighborhood used to do, no called greetings to parents waiting down on the sidewalk.
These kids are goal oriented, already on the fast track to success. Their motto is ‘he who becomes undead with the biggest stash of sugar wins’. Up the stairs they run, at least getting their cardio in, flinging out their bags before they’ve even come to a full stop (my last traffic ticket was for just that). Often they don’t even offer the requisite ‘Trick or Treat’, but they always watch carefully to see what you’ve put in. If it’s not up to their standards in quality or quantity, you know it. Then it’s fly down the stairs, and on to the next house. I’ve hardly had a chance to become aware of their presence. But that’s ok because there’s someone else to take their place. They don’t have time for me, but I don’t have time for them either.
And not that I’d have much ooo-ing and aah-ing to do over their costumes. Most of them are Wal-Mart specials, carbon copies of this year’s action or movie heroes. A couple of years ago I got special treats to give to those kids with creative, homemade costumes. Managed to award about three out of – did I mention we have a lot of kids?
Last year I avoided the whole thing by going over to Diane’s. She lives in Sunnyside, just north of me. You’d think they’d have the hundreds of children that used to crowd my neighborhood. But no, we had time for long conversations between visitors. She had time to admire each child’s costume – more of them were homemade – and to say a few words to the parents. Without the crazy pace, Halloween was fun again.