When dawn broke on this day, my first small-town Halloween in a quarter century, we were a house asunder. And not just because divorce had riven our marital union into two separate domiciles. No! We suffered so because we had two sons who had wildly antithetical opinions of Halloween.
Our younger boy, who is still young and darling enough to skip on his way to school and be enthralled by Muppets, could not wait to wriggle into his Kermit costume and tap his new community of all its sugar-laden riches.
Our older boy, who in some ways betrays the jaded soul of a 48-year-old claims adjuster, was content to sit the whole thing out.
And I wept for him, because he had seemingly outgrown the ritual before ever experiencing it as I did: scampering from house to house and marveling at all the theatrical scary crap in people’s yards. This was one of the attractions of the move to Michigan. Until now, my boys had known only urban Halloweens, either tromping down stairwells in apartment buildings or (!) milling around in a large field of givers aimlessly intermingling with grabbers. (This latter construct was convivial, and joyful, and complete BS.)
Entreaties were futile. And so a plan was struck: the nine-year-old would stay with mom and hand out candy, while Mr. Darling Frog and I paired up with some neighborhood kids for trick-or-treating.
The Frog and I set out just as dusk was falling, he with an empty Bloomingdale’s bag, I with a tankard of black coffee to combat the chill. He was skipping again, as he is wont to do, pointing out ridiculously great jack-o-lanterns and exulting at every little thud at the bottom of his bag. We met some of our neighbors. We gaped at the decorations. We wondered what that odd woman who was dressed as a tree would be giving out among her front yard full of six-foot wildflowers. (Answer: sprigs of broom corn.)
We had gotten to around a half-dozen houses when I got the call: the Older Son wanted to join us.
I wondered what costume he and his mom could conjure at such short notice, and don quickly enough to catch up to us. Ten minutes later, I heard shouts of “DAD!” in the darkened distance, and I knew he was hot on our heels. When he came into view, I saw that he looked exactly as I’d left him–except for a smudge of something under his nose.
I asked him, “So, what costume did you come up with so quickly?”
And he said, “I’m YOU! With a Movember moustache!” *
* Totally not kidding.
And yea, verily, after we met up with a couple of his school buddies, the father and sons did frolic amongst the undead, the macabre, and the extremely sugar-buzzed. And the claims adjuster gave way to the nine-year-old boy, who, dressed as his father, happily scoured about three miles of road before aching feet and a burdensome goody bag did him in.
It was definitely the third-best Halloween ever.