I have this list on my desktop of things I want to write about. Well, at least I’m trying to keep track of them, even if I can’t keep up with them. Other things happen that seem to take front and center position, and today is no exception.
Today I have to write about Duckie’s first real Halloween experience, before I forget the details. Last year wasn’t terribly special. She wasn’t even a year old then, so we dressed her in her homemade Renaissance dress, attached the fairy wings Sam got her at the Charlotte Ren Faire, and took her to the trick-or-treat event in downtown Hendersonville. Cute, especially to see the other tiny kids dressed as rhinos or dogs or whatever. Oh, the things we can do to our children when they’re too young to protest! Such days are behind us now – sometimes it’s a battle just to get Duckie’s jeans on in the morning, followed by a lengthy tear-filled tantrum to express her profound sense of outrage at being so betrayed by her mother.
I was very relieved, then, to see that she didn’t object to the hand-me-down leopard suit we inherited from one of Buffy’s daughters. It was warm, it fit perfectly (didn’t even have to roll anything up!) and she managed to keep the ears on all night, too. We went with RB (Running Buddy) and her son to another friend’s house in the well-to-do neighborhood of English Hills in East Flat Rock. Houses were pretty far apart, so M (the friend) decided to go back and get the truck to help the little ones keep up. (I was profoundly grateful for this gesture.)
RB counted up the kids yesterday during our run. There were ten kids: three ninjas that I could remember, two vampire-witchly-type creatures, a butterfly, a creepy-looking monk, a hippie, one whose costume I can’t remember, and a little cat – Duckie in her leopard suit, that is, complete with tail. Six mamas and one grandmother came along for the ride. The back of the truck was a little crowded, to say the least.
Duckie wanted to walk and run, on her own, to all the houses. It quickly became evident that there was no way we were going to keep up with the rest of the horde, who were little more than shrieking black streaks in the darkness as they flew from house to house for plunder. Despite her best efforts, which included sprints at breakneck speed that made her tail switch back and forth, looking for all the world like a real cat’s, and had the side effect of pushing my stomach up to my throat, she just couldn’t match the eerie speed of the ninjas.
I made an executive decision, picked her up, and ran, shrieking my own Halloween battle cry, from one house to the next. This was the only way she would let me carry her – at top speed, screaming "WHEEEEE!" Soon I realized that the cheeseburger I had eaten for dinner probably wasn’t such a big deal, given my elevated heart rate and general sweatiness.
(My boss just came in to tell me we have a new manager starting in mid-November and she wanted to give me a heads-up on training him in quality system stuff – internal audits, corrective action – you know, all those subjects that make your eyes glaze over after five minutes or so. On her way out, she said “Just wanted to give you a pre-warning.” Have I ever mentioned how much that phrase annoys me? Doesn’t a warning, by its very nature, precede the actual event? Why the hell would you call it a pre-warning, then? On the other hand, she came up with a lovely new word the other day – “mis-stuck.” Kinda sounds like “mistook” but actually means “lost somewhere on my &*^%ing desk.” Loved it.)
Duckie was very shy at first. The costumes freaked her out, especially the witchly-vampire creatures – who looked stunning in my opinion – all black and sparkly and very pale. You almost couldn’t recognize the girls under it all, which I suppose is the point. Then the strangers at the houses freaked her out, so that she wouldn’t even let them put candy into her ghost bucket. Then I tried to hold her in the front seat with me as we drove at approximately five miles per hour to the next block of houses, and she protested loudly at not being included with the kids jammed into the back of the truck.
So we moved to the back of the truck on the next leg of the journey, Duckie crammed in the middle of the other ghouls, me crammed between two other moms, riding on the tailgate. I heard RB say to her son, “Look up at the stars – they’re so bright tonight!” I looked up too, and she was right – it was the kind of sky you only see on very clear nights away from large metropolitan areas, big stars shining bright, and the space between them inhabited by tiny beams of light from distances unimaginable. I had seen more stars in the sky, but not recently. So I rode from house to house with my head thrown back to watch for the occasional meteor, a cold breeze blowing through my sweaty-wet hair, enjoying the slightly scary feeling that I was about to fall off the tailgate.
An hour or so later, Duckie had learned how to say “trick or treat” (or her special version thereof), grabbed for candy with the rest of them, said “thank-you” to the new people she was meeting, and blew them kisses as we ran off to the next lighted doorway.
It was by far the most fun I’ve ever had at Halloween. I felt like I was part of a special tribe, if only for an hour or two, initiated into another ritual of motherhood by virtue of Duckie’s own milestone.
I didn’t exactly dress for the occasion. The other moms, who had done this before, were appropriately attired in jeans and sweatshirts. I hadn’t gone home, so I was still wearing my dress from work, which cannot now be worn without a wash, and shoes that would have served me better had they been of the New Balance variety.
Next time I’ll bring jeans. And maybe sneak a beer into my backpack.