I manned the door for this Halloween. I live in a rather large townhouse complex filled with kids and young families and the burgeoning terror of intra-strata political strife. It's a great community, people know each other and there's always some sort of community event planned for the big holidays; the easy ones, anyways, Summer, New Years, Halloween. They stay away from the touchy ones: Christmas and Easter, say, or any pagan sun holiday expropriated for messianiac desert religions.
Being in such a large complex means plenty of kids. Gaggles and straggles and gangs of them. Gawky rebellious and punk in a way that only youth can be punk; young and exuberant and screamy as pre-teens simply have to be; awkward and confused and just along for the ride as toddlers are (pretty much all the time, actually).
Experiencing Halloween from the other side is, something. As a man, there is the constant effort to not appear to be the Creepy Predator That Your Parents Warned You About. Whether that be walking in the same direction as a woman on the way home at 2am, or giving out packaged glucose to minors, one needs to not scare other people. Not in the goofy 'oh you got me good with that fake vomit and pretend heart attack routine', but the 'honey do you have the cell phone and can you dial 911'.
So, there's very vague smile, a happy Halloween, and a close of the door. Men cannot engage in the banter that makes Halloween for most kids. "Oh, what are you? What's that again? Ohhh, scary pirate!" etcetera. These are the usual back and forth from moms and grandma's and the like. I think that if I get to a respectable age, and perhaps get some reading glasses and a nice tweed sports coat, I might be able to pull it off. But right now I just try and keep it brief and to the point.
This isn't so bad, actually, since for most trick or treaters coming through, we seemed to be at the end of their trip. They have a listless look. Their pillowcases and plastic Jack O' Lanterns brimming with the exciting possibilities of childhood obesity, their makeup smeared, their masks abandoned. Some don't even say 'trick or treat', they just kinda yell incoherently and mumble thanks.
I think there might be a lesson about life in there somewhere. Perhaps an allegory about work and the brass ring. Maybe something about 'you can only have so much money and then after that it's smeared make-up, and dead stare, and the a scramble to enjoy your spoils before the Big Sleep'.
Or maybe I shouldn't be chowing down on teeny tiny Mars bars after 8 pm.