"No hot dogs?" I ask my neighbor and friend. When I walk past her house, the garage door is shut instead of open with hot dogs and buns laid out on hard plastic tables.
"No, tonight we had another party," she answers. "A lot of people are going to be sad."
Sad indeed. The open garage door and Costco-giant sized ketchups and mustards had become an attraction for migrant workers who didn't speak English. My friend is feeling guilty that some children might not get dinner. The reality is her kind of Halloween fear.
As I pass another friend's house, I see an older, child-like man trick or treating at another friend's house. Why not?
It used to be, the morning after Halloween that the steep avenue I drive each day, was littered with smashed pumpkin guts. What a mess! Over the years, the pumpkins have lessened--I've only seen one--so far. I worry what the morning will bring.
Every Halloween, I remember two incidences involving my maternal grandma and uncle, and my paternal grandparents who back in the 1930s, still had an outhouse--until the trick or treaters hauled it away. They were immigrants; I imagine their English was rough and their commode unacceptable to civilized Americans. Yet, it could have been as innocent as pumpkin rolling down Skyline Avenue. But that's the problem with pranksters; in their dares, their laughs, their bravado--someone has to clean-up the mess.
The other incident happened when my handicapped uncle opened the door expecting trick or treaters, but instead he was pelted with sour milk. It reached the couch, covered the carpet and left my vulnerable uncle bewildered. This was Halloween?
At 5:15 this afternoon, Paloma and I drove to the store to buy our candy. It was equivalent to shopping on Christmas Eve. But worth it. The store was abuzz with zombies, bums, soldiers, detectives and superwomen. Then there were the few who I couldn't distinguish as to whether or not they were wearing costumes. I sided up to my daughter and screamed...it wasn't my daughter. How appropriate to scream in the grocery store on Halloween night.
If this "essay" seems a bit disjointed tonight, it is a reflection of the occasion. Every few minutes the doorbell rings; I run downstairs and greet the children from the neighborhood and beyond. The last time I opened the door and handed out candy, the street was a party!
Halloween brings out the best...
And the worst.