Trick or Treat?
When leaving work several nights ago, I saw two kids in Halloween outfits outside with their mother. They were going somewhere in her car. Watching them interact affected me.
What I saw was two boys walking to their car in their Halloween outfits. One yelled, “Shotgun!” as he raced to open the front passenger door. The funny part was the other boy, attempting to beat him to the door, tried sliding his way across the hood, much to the chagrin of the mother getting in the driver’s seat.
The first boy said, “I called it and screwed up your slide—perfect! ”
The second boy grumbled, shook his head and climbed in the back seat of the car and they left. A typical family scene involving young competitive brothers, but somehow it got me thinking.
I remember when I was 9 or 10 my mom dressing me in a clown outfit; she made a hat that resembled a dunce cap with a pointed top. It was covered in a fabric of some sort that was stapled to the hat. The pointy ends of the staples itched where they contacted with my head so I kept turning it to get them in a different spot but it didn't work; there were staples everywhere—just too many staples. The hat was a quickie job and it showed but looking back on it now, I realize it didn't matter. All of us went on the hunt for treats—me, my younger brothers and cousins.
I remember when I was 13, I was a gunslinger from a western movie. One of the guys in our group was running from one of the others laughing but it was dark and he didn't see the cable stretched across the property we were crossing and it caught him in the mid-section, bouncing him back to us and throwing him on the ground. He wasn't hurt, just surprised. We ducked under the cable and continued our hunt for treats.
My trick-or-treating memories seem to end there. Not long after, my parents got divorced and went their own ways. My brothers and I ended up staying with my mom and moved to a new place.
I didn't get dressed up for the holiday after that. Why, I don't know. Maybe it was a sign that this part of my childhood was done and it was on to the next phase of my life.
My brothers and I split time between my parents’ homes. Nothing really changed other than our address for a few years.
My dad never had the light on for the trick-or-treaters, not having funds to spare for bags of candy and because we lived downtown. We were far away from the regular routes kids use to collect their treats. Too, Dad was tired from working all day, so wasn’t about to be running to the door every five minutes handing out candy in any case. I wasn’t either. I was living with him full time by now.
That background brings me to now. I live in the country with no close neighbors so I haven't bothered with the holiday in decades, although I do see some nice costumes on kids around this time of year when I'm out, some of which have needed thought and are imaginative, and others which are store-bought and have a plastic mask with them. But the kids are having a good time being dressed up and allowing their imaginations to take over, and whether their costumes were bought or made seems to matter not at all to them.
It had been years since I’d given a single though to Halloween. Then I saw those costumed boys fighting for the front seat. That was when, for who knows why, I started paying attention to kids, then people and things around me. Nothing about the costumes or the kids was special or unique, just their actions jogged my memory. This made me smile and grin, remembering the old days.
Where did all those years go? My parents have long since died and I have become a bitter old man. Maybe not quite bitter, but probably reclusive and perhaps a little sour, because it’s only lately, since being amused by those kids getting in their car, that I am starting to see things I would've ignored before. Like Halloween and the kids having a good time and the parents ushering them door to door. Almost makes me want to move closer to town where I can experience, even be involved in, the day-to-day life of people. Almost. I have grown to like my solitude but it's little things like watching people do whatever they’re doing which makes me think about moving.
Growing old is inevitable, but growing up is optional. This used to be my saying.
I grew old and up.
Scary, isn't it?