In 1995, my husband and I decided to rent a house. It was a small house, built in the ’50’s, located in a quiet neighborhood occupied by mostly original homeowners. We had lived in apartments all of our lives, and had never experienced Halloween with actual Trick-or-Treaters. (I should note that Halloween and St Patrick’s Day are my two favorite holidays). I would finally get to give out candy to tiny fairy princesses and teenage mutant karate something-or-others. I was over the moon!
October arrived and I began to prepare. I had met all of our neighbors and discovered that the guy directly across the street from us was a clown. And I don’t mean, “he mows the lawn in tropical shirts, Bermuda shorts, black socks and sandals”… I mean an ACTUAL freaking CLOWN! How in the hell was I supposed to compete with that? The neighbors told stories of how he sits in the front yard, all “clowned-up” and makes balloon animals for the kids, who line up each year. Seriously? Meanwhile, the parents canvas the neighborhood gathering the candy. Well I wasn’t having it.
I took out a home-owner’s loan and purchased a small army of ghosts, goblins, ghouls, bats, skeletons, tombstones, pumpkins, hay bales, spider webs, and a very large witch who, when displayed properly, looked as if she had flown SMACK into our tree. Our house had literally become the thing of Tim Burton’s nightmares. I was ready!
I spent the Saturday before Halloween decorating like crazy! The only thing left to do was head to the store for oodles of candy. And I was going to get the good stuff! Maybe even full-size bars! Sunday was football day, so I decided I would use that time to do my grocery shopping. But for now, I would rest.
I whipped up some meatloaf and mac and cheese and grabbed a tv table to watch Hocus Pocus on video. We lived in the desert, and the fall weather was perfect, so I opened the front door (which had a clear view of the couch where I was sitting) and settled in.
A few bites in, and the doorbell rang. Startled, I looked toward the storm door to see who was there. It was hard to make out the shapes, but it didn’t take long to figure out I was staring at children. In COSTUMES. And before I got to the door, the words came sing-songing out of their mouths… “TRICK OR TREAT!”.
Uhm, what? I glanced across the kitchen at the calendar. No, it was definitely NOT Halloween. It was Saturday, October 28th. I popped my head out the door and found Waldo. Then I questioned him about the premature candy gathering. A Spice Girl rolled her eyes and responded, “The City said that Halloween is today from 6 to 9.” My mouth fell open. A 30-something Morticia called out from the sidewalk, “It was in the newspaper.” (Kids, now might be a good time to tell you that I didn’t read the newspaper…)
I stood there for a moment in shock. Then my Halloweenieness kicked in and I ran to the pantry in a panic. There HAD to be some candy in there somewhere! I grabbed a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies and tossed them into the plastic pumpkins, much to the chagrin of my TOT’s (Trick or Treaters just gets too exhausting to spell out each time).
A blue M&M toddled up the driveway, and I tossed the last Crème Pie into her (his?) bucket. A gaggle of Power Rangers were close behind, so I raced back to the pantry and grabbed the box of Nutty Bars. Those didn’t last long. I opened the junk drawer where I knew I would find at least a dozen small peppermints that came in the bottom of every bag of Sonic Drive-In food (I hate peppermint. Won’t eat it. But it seemed a shame to throw away perfectly good candy.). I was overjoyed (and a little sad) to find there were at least three dozen junk-drawer-flavored peppermints staring up at me. Those went fast as well.
My fabulous decorations were drawing kids from blocks away. Even the clown was jealous. But what to do? After giving out 6 bananas, 3 oranges, 8 hot dog buns, 4 and a half packs of gum, a jar of maraschino cherries, 48 pennies and some salsa packets from Taco Bell, I decided to throw in the towel. Raise the white flag. Do some laundry (all that talk of linen…). Anyway, I had to quit. I shut the door, turned off the porch light, and hid in the living room, noshing on cold mac & cheese and considering selling the house.
I heard voices. A couple more sad attempts at my door. Then it was over. I finished my bottle of wine (did I mention I had started a bottle of wine?) and went to bed.
I was too depressed on Sunday to take down the stupid decorations or go to the store.
I came home from work Tuesday, and cooked dinner. It was depression leftovers from the weekend. And some depression wine.
I was pouring glass number two when the doorbell rang. My glass and I answered the door. I swear the same damn Waldo was standing there. And beyond him were the gathering costumed herds of TOT’s. Three guesses what he said? Those three little words that I had been longing to hear all those apartment years…
Turns out, I’m not the only one who didn’t read the paper.