It was a nice Halloween night on Tuesday; a little chilly with just enough fog to put cool halos around the moon and street lights, but otherwise clear. However, nearly-perfect weather notwithstanding, we didn't get nearly as many trick-or-treaters as we have in years past. It's surprising, but I have a bowl of Twix and Kit Kat sitting right here on the table, daring me to go another hour without eating too many of them.
Most of the kids who came up to our door told us that they were equally scared and excited about our house, because last year, Ryan and his friends built a spooky house in our front yard, and spent the evening scaring the beejeezus out of all the kids in the neighborhood. They had so much fun doing it, Ryan took the idea to his school this year, and helped create a haunted house there as a fundraiser. (Not bad initaitive for a 17 year-old, and a nice extra bit to put on a college application, eh?) He did two nights of scaring at his school, and by the time Halloween rolled around, he told me he was tired of scaring people, and just wanted to hang out with his friends instead.
So instead of having a big spooky set up in our front yard, that would test the courage of all the neighborhood kids, we had a much more subdued display: just a spiderweb covering the entire front of the house, some strobe lights and smoke, and the obligatory hanging skeleton.
(Yes, that qualifies as 'subdued' for us, especially since I did incredibly complex haunted mazes and displays with my best friend Darin all through high school, and until last year had more boxes of Halloween decorations than all the other holiday decorations combined in the garage.)
I've been acutely aware of the passge of time recently, especially in the last eight weeks, and this Halloween pulled it into sharp and undeniable focus: Ryan will be in college this time next year, and probably won't come home for Halloween. I can remember taking him door to door when he was six and a Power Ranger.
Anyway, a kid who was probably 12 came up to the door, pointed at our jack-o-lanterns, and hollered, "Ah! Scary!"
"What?" His friend said.
"Math!" He said, pointing at Nolan's Pumpkin Pi.
It made me laugh, and even though I was feeling old, I didn't tell them -- or any of the other kids who came through the neighborhood -- to get off my lawn.
I've just realized that there are also Milk Duds in the candy bowl (Nolan calls them, "the duds," which always cracks me up) but I'm safe from their siren's call: the only way I'll eat Milk Duds is in a movie theater, accompanied by a Dr. Pepper, sipped through a Red Vine straw and chased with a handful of popcorn and junior mints.