not at my house

by bam

if i cranked up the wagon and cut–illegally, mind you, there’s a sign scolding you not to–through the alley, bumped just two blocks toward where the sun sets, i would screech on the brakes–everyone does–at a shrine to the season, the one glowing above, the one that chews kilowatts as if they were candy, all through the most hallowed night.
glows for weeks and weeks in advance, really. the lady who lives there must use up her whole carbon footprint in the instant she plugs in her nine million cords. she’s got every light in the world, and an army of billowing creatures, each powered by fans down below. at least i think so. i hear the sound of something that’s whirring, and i don’t think it’s her, sprawled on the ground, blowing with all of her might.
i imagine the beds at that house are all tucked with sheets that are scary. and not just from the holes that no one is mending. i’d not be surprised if the papier de toilette unrolls with the faces of goblins.
expect no such hysterics here.
not at my house.
we did manage to carve the requisite pumpkin. and my children will not go naked to school (or that wasn’t the plan, anyway). at least one will go off in something approximating a costume.
but if everyone in the world gets just one holiday pass, one time where they can be a scrooge or a grinch or a plain old bump on the log if they please, well, then, i’m in the line awaiting my little orange ticket.
i am, contrary to the river of halloween madness swirling out there, decidedly au contraire. i am the halloween minimalist.
give me a pumpkin and a deadline. tell me i must get it carved. or my children will never forgive me. all right, all right, then, pass me the knife. but make sure it’s a dull-bladed one, so i can curse as i try to impale the sacrificed flesh of the seasonal vegetable victim.
guaranteed, you’ll not find one of those whizbang carver’s deluxe ensembles at my house, the ones i’m certain they sell. with intricate blades to do intricate tricks on the face of the poor bulbous gourd.
at my house it’s strictly euclidean geometry. triangle eyes, triangle mouth. this year, because the little one insisted, because he saw something like it on the neighbors’ front porch, we did add a triangle carved in the cheek. he called it a scar. i played along.
it seems to get worse every year. not that i’m getting worse. really, i’m not. i’m standing still, nonchalantly ignoring the madness.
it’s just that the madness gets madder, gets earlier, gets brighter. and with each string of lights strung on somebody’s porch, or each ghoulish scene staged in someone’s front yard, i sink deeper into my season of seasonal ennui.
a french diagnosis, i tell you, makes even the dreariest syndrome sound just a wee bit exotic. hmm, ennui, mais oui, i feel better already.
i think, doctor ghoul, it goes back to my youth, that place where so many troubles seem to be hatched.
there was annual angst, once i outgrew the suffocating, hard-to-see-through, red-riding-hood mask someone kindly bought at a store, of what in the world i would be. (such are the existential quandaries of adolescence, even if it’s a matter contained solely to the subject of costumes.)
you see, this whole dressing-up thing plays to my deficit. i am, day after day, not so smart in the fashion department. holidays make it no better. certainly not the one that’s upon us, the one that demands sartorial know-how.
except for the year i paraded as a picnic table, complete with red-checked cloth and a marching battalion of ants, i seemed to replay the same humdrum tune year after year. my needle was stuck on bum upon bum upon bum.
take old ratty clothes, add charcoal briquet rubbed on the cheeks. bingo, you had it. license to go bag some chocolate.
and therein lies issue no. 2. i am not, never have been, much of a chocolatey girl. i know, it’s a birth defect. i did manage to make up for it, for a spell there, with bag after bag of what might have sufficed for a food group in college, that ol’ candy corn, three-stripe trifecta of fructose and sugar and syrup of corn.
but without incentive, i ask you, what is the point? why go to such trouble?
as predicted, there i was on the eve of the eve, just last night, begging my mama with needle and thread to please hem the pants of the halloween beggar–i mean child–who switched, at the very last minute, of course, from star wars to football for the costume brigade.
and, oh, do not tell me, here he is at my side, half naked, the player of football. egad, could it be, yes it could, the essential jersey is still rather, um, moist down in the sudsing machine, not yet in the dryer. did i mention it’s quarter past eight and we leave for the school in less time than it takes to spell b-u-s-t-e-d, as in “i am so…”?
that’s not the least of it. after sprinting to the on-demand costume parade, i’ll be scrounging the shelves of the grocery, in search of the elusive and oxymoronic halloween snack that is healthy, a teacher request that i’ll heed out of sympathy, deep and undying.
and then, mr. weather man, he who reads clouds and rains on parades with astonishing regularity, he tells me there’s cold and there’s drizzle in my immediate bone-chilling future. oh, how splendid.
anyone mind if i sit this one out, or at best shuffle slowly behind the one, hopefully fully clothed by the bewitching hour, who is dashing to doorbells, filling his sack with foodstuffs sure to give him the jitters, keep him awake till the saints roll in on the morrow?
oh sinners and saints, i implore you. please give me a nice quiet night with only the glow of a pumpkin. i’ll take a moon, if you will. and maybe an owl. or a wolf off in the distance. that there would be to my liking.
but it’s a notion that seems to be lost in a forest of over-lit trees.

any other hallow’s eve grinches, or less-than-eager participants? step right up, let it rip. or, if, on the other hand, you are gaga for all that is ghoulish, if you live for this day of disguise, if you can’t keep your mitts out of the candy bag, by all means, defend it. speak up for yourself and your holiday. all’s fair here at the table. but don’t expect cute pumpkin cookies, or cupcakes bulging with eyeballs. we’re taking our holiday straight up here. coffee’s black today. (pssst, if you look in the sugar bowl, you might find some corn. candy corn that would be. but of course.)