Come Halloween one of my children composed a costume requiring eyeglasses. She approached me in my work room over the garage and asked if I could spare a pair, which in fact I could, as I buy “cheaters” in bulk and distribute them generally and vastly around the acreage. They are cheap in terms of both dollars and quality, and therefore when she asked if I could pop the lenses out to prevent her getting blurry headaches, I could, and easily did.
At risk of incurring disfavor I will admit I have lost the Halloween buzz. The last time I really got into it was about eight years ago when I went to the family party dressed as the International Harvester logo, an esoteric choice but much appreciated in the environs of my raising. I had to turn sideways to fit my “H” through the door, and before eating sloppy joes had to remove the dot from the “i” as it was a spray-painted box enclosing my cranium.
Nowadays I mostly just dig a wig and a witch hat out of the orange plastic tubs containing our All Hallow’s Eve accoutrements and call it good. Mainly I do it for the children. And then they do things for me, like deviate from the high-density trick-or-treat route in town in order to drop in on our octogenarian neighbor Tom. My ulterior motive here was to get a picture of him with my children, one of them taller than he now, and possibly making her final Halloween stop.
I understand their desire to get to town, where more houses are lit than not, and the pickings are rich. Especially at the taverns, where they tend to hand out big honking candy bars. Among my favorite father memories I count the times I shuffled down the sidewalk with all the other parents as we sent our costumed tiny tots one after the other into the saloons. There is a certain roughneck looseness to small town life that — in a world of antiseptic wipes and nice clean soccer shorts — can be exhilarating.
Up north at my parents farm, where the address is remote and there are few doors to knock upon, we again this year set up a self-contained “scary walk” in which the kids trailed from barn to shed and so on, and were offered treats by vaguely familiar ghouls. “I know it’s you, Uncle John!” they say, their high-pitched giggles betraying uncertainty nonetheless. I myself spent quite a lot of time shivering in the milk house before they finally arrived. I scared them by rattling the lids on the bulk tank.
Now the costumes are packed in the tubs again. The austere, bony part of autumn is here, and there have been a couple of decent snows. My wife asked that I replace the screen door on the porch with the solid wooden one. I did it right away, for a change. I had a little struggle getting the screws and hinges lined up. Grabbed a pair of those cheap reading glasses off the kitchen counter but they didn’t help much, and it was only after much squinting and head-tipping that I got the thing hung. Wore those glasses a good 15 minutes before I took them off and realized they didn’t have any lenses in them.