Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween '09

Distinctly cool on the last day of October this year, and windy too. That was an important consideration for Ann, who wore a witch's costume, with hat, for candy collection in the late afternoon. It blew off so many times that I tied it around her chin, and even then it had a habit of taking flight.

She made the rounds with her friend Elizabeth, who was dressed as a black cat -- her familiar, though I didn't mention the term to them. Elizabeth's father and I trailed behind. It was the first time I'd accompanied either of my children on Halloween in some years, since during the last few Lilly has gone with her friends and Ann has tagged along. Lilly, tired of this arrangement, was actually the one who suggested Elizabeth this year, and Ann latched onto the idea. Lilly was thus free to troll for candy with her friends and for all I know spread toilet paper around (but none from our stock, as far as I could tell).

The best costume I saw on the suburban sidewalks this year was a boy -- though I guess it could have been a girl -- dressed as Death. Complete black vestments, including a black hood and a black covering that obscured the face. No scythe or ticket to Samara or any other deathly tokens, however, just plain ol' Death. Maybe the kid was 10 years old, so Death was short. You'd think Death would have a more commanding height, but maybe that's just a prejudice of the living. Or maybe he was supposed to be La Petit Mort. But somehow I doubt it.

Most of the other kids, and the scattering of adults who dressed for the day, sported run-of-the-mill costumes. What would have really been scary this Halloween? Someone dressed as a foreclosure notice. Or maybe a pink slip.

The houses we passed varied, as you'd expect, from undecorated to outrageously decorated for the day. The odd thing was that the amount of decoration offered no clue as to whether anyone would open the door to dispense candy. It used to be that if you were willing to give away candy, you'd leave your porch light on; if the lights were off, you declined to participate. Here's a contemporary tip for homeowners who insist on decorating for Halloween: If you're going to decorate, especially to the ridiculous nines, open your damn door and give something away.

My own favorite bit of decor was a skeleton made out of cut-up plastic milk jugs. That took some cleverness on someone's part. Almost as good was a faux-bone and faux-skull wind chime, though it would have been much better if they had been real bones. But we're in suburban Chicago, not Bohemia.

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