The nice thing about having a nephew and niece eight and four years old is that I still have someone to trail around house-to-house on Halloween. I went trick-or-treating last night with the Hooligan children; their mother, Diamondqueen; and their father, TPM (short for That Poor Man).
We drove over to their Grandma’s neighborhood, just a couple of miles away, so the kids could show her their official “look” for Halloween night and get treats from her. Grandpa Mad Monk, Grandma’s ex, always volunteers to stay at the Hooligan house and hand out their treats for them. The neighbors are starting to get to know him. (“Mad Monk” was my father’s nickname where he worked; it has nothing to do with Halloween.)
I want to say right now that the expanded Daylight Savings Time really challenged the Halloween spookiness. Usually DST ends the last weekend in October; this year, we “fall back” on the first weekend of November. That meant, given the clear, bright weather we had, it wasn’t dark at all for about the first hour of tricks-or-treats. It was as bad as when they made us have trick-or-treat on Sunday afternoon when I was a kid (in 1966, because of the Cincinnati Strangler; but about the time he was caught was when nasty people started putting razor blades in apples and pins in candy bars, and somehow trick-or-treat became permanently scheduled on the Sunday afternoon closest to Halloween). It’s hard to see ghosts around every corner in broad daylight; the light in the jack-o-lanterns doesn’t even show up. They finally reinstated nighttime hours for Halloween in Cincinnati in the early 70s, but it was too late for me.
Anyhow, something has to change with this Daylight Savings thing. Write your congressperson.
Both of the Hooligan children were wired and ready to go before six o’clock arrived. J.Hooligan has been allowing me to do his Mummy make-up all season. Even though I’ve never gotten it quite right, he’s been quite agreeable about it. Last night he told me, “It’s not what I was hoping for, but I’m okay with it.” (Which is a triumph compared to when he was having his own production of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol a couple of years ago. He assigned me the job of make-up artist, but he hated my trial take on Jacob Marley. J.Hooligan went into the bathroom to wash off the damage; and when he came out, he told me flatly, “You’re fired.”)
S. Hooligan was dressed as Glinda from The Wizard of Oz, only she wouldn’t wear her hat, so everyone thought she was a princess. She allowed me to put a little pink on her cheeks and touches of red on her lips. Soon she was complaining that the make-up “hurt.” I wiped off some of the pink and red, and she seemed to be okay. About an hour into the 90-minute trick-or-treat schedule, though, she suddenly started crying that her lips hurt. Apparently they were chapped; she chose to blame the “lipstick” (and by association, me) for her sore lips. She was bone-tired by then and might have melted down over just about anything; because of this particular trial she spent the better part of one street wailing, whining, snorting steam, and frothing at the mouth (which didn’t help her chapped lips). I very kindly offered to walk her back to Grandma’s house just minutes away. S.Hooligan flew into a rage, shrieked at me, and starting beating me with her treat bag — a padded fabric basket shaped like a cat’s head, which helped soften the impact of three pounds of Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffy, and mini boxes of Nerds.
Diamondqueen was able to smear some Blistex on the child’s lips between rants, and suddenly S. was reasonably agreeable again, although still dead on her feet. J.Hooligan had very sweetly been asking people for extra treats for his sister, a la Lucy in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. At one point J. said, “I know why she’s crying. (A) She’s really, really tired. And (B) she’s touched that I asked people for candy for her.”
J.Hooligan had a pretty good night overall, although he admitted late in the game, “It wouldn’t be so bad if my legs were perkier and I had something to drink.” He didn’t want to stop, though. He got a lot of terrific responses to his costume, which Diamonqueen made by sewing stained strips of old sheets to white sweat pants and shirt. “They marvelled at my costume,” J. said proudly several times. This was much better than last year, when he spent a lot of time muttering because everyone kept saying what a wonderful pirate costume he had. “What’s wrong with these people?” J. fumed under his tri-cornered hat. “Can’t they see I’m a continental soldier?” (Yes, J.Hooligan really does talk like that. He’s been talking like that from the time he could first shape words.)
At last it was 7:30, and we all limped down Grandma’s street, got in the van, and drove back to the Hooligan house. (Grandma followed a little later, after she’d packed away her lawn chair and her jack-o-lantern.) The kids did their Big Dump on the dining room table, immediately diving into the individual piles of loot and rolling on their backs like happy puppies. The adults looked everything over, openly stole whatever they knew the kids didn’t like, and palmed a few sweets for themselves whether the kids liked them or not.
It was just your normal, average Halloween — the kind we wait for all year long, and this one didn’t let us down. Except for that Daylight Savings Time problem, although it did get dark enough finally that J.Hooligan tripped and fell flat, spilling the contents of his treat bag. So the evening was complete.