Spirits Abroad

The funny thing is it felt like Halloween was coming, freak blizzard or not. I lay in our bed as the wind howled and slept not a wink all Saturday night. At one point, a picture in our bathroom suddenly jumped off the wall and crashed into the tub, its glass exploding all over. I turned on the lights and swept up every last shard, then went over the whole surface of the tub with a cotton ball moistened in Baby Oil just to be sure I got it all

I went to the guest bedroom then, hoping for better sleep- luck there but the wind howled even louder in that room and sleep eluded me. I stayed anyway and dreamed a waking dream of my sister Nan though, I swear I wasn’t asleep. I saw her dressed all in white, and young again, with her long thin track-star legs.

Were there spirits abroad as uneasy as the wind? Poltergeists even?  I lay there worrying, first about our one girl flying home from Italy in the midst of all this, then about our other girl and her family on their heavily wooded street they seemed sure to lose power in this freak October storm. I threw in worry over our boy in Brooklyn, up all night as I guessed, at that Halloween party he was having with his friends.

I startled into sharp awareness at 3:00, just in time to see the branches of my favorite tree break under the force of the wet snow and swoon down toward the ground.

When, two hours later, David and I woke for real, he said, “Did you set a mousetrap in the kitchen last night? Because I heard this loud SNAP! at one point.

“Nope,” I said and turned my head to look out the window. 

“Whoa there’s your mousetrap!” The light was still dim but I could see what had happened: the pane in the upper sash of our wiggly old window had cracked all over. My heart sank…. 

But then this amazing sun rose and the night had passed and we still had power, lucky us. The trees shook off the snow and I told myself “there are no spirits,” then stepped into my morning bath  –  and yelped as a fine needle of last night’s glass drove itself into the pincushion of my thigh.

A message from Beyond it might have been, saying “Child, you have NO idea what really moves the world.” And that I can well believe.


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Not Exactly Princesses

Remember how boys used to just Trick or Treat as hobos in outsized jackets with coal smeared on their faces and pillowcases to stash the goodies in?  My sister Nan and I went out as hobos ourselves, but we weren’t your typical little girls. For one interesting period, she used a dead cat in an alley as a departure point for a whole series of lectures on decomposition and the Mortuary Arts. We’d visit that poor Flat Stanley of a thing the way pilgrims visit a shrine. We would have Trick-or-Treated carrying it around with us if we’d been just a little more daring.

But to get back to the customs regarding boys’ costumes:

Have they ever changed! These days males of every age are willing to don costumes as elaborate as the girls’. They’ll be going out dressed to the nines, as Transformers or Power Rangers, as classically tragic bad guys like Darth Vader, eyeless and wheezing inside his giant black helmet. Some may even show up as poor old Nixon in that hideous mask Christina Ricci wore in The Ice Storm’s middle school sex scene.

And the point will be what it’s always been: To startle. To counter expectation.

We had a good friend back in the day. Didn’t smoke. Didn’t drink. Took old bikes from the dump, fixed them up good as new and gave them to kids who didn’t have bikes. On the Halloween immediately following some madman’s murder of several people by slipping poison into some Tylenol bottles, this friend took his kids around for Trick or Treat, himself dressed as…..a giant Tylenol capsule. He was actually surprised when another dad offered to punch his lights out.

THAT escapade countered all our expectations.

Partying indoors on Halloween will of course reduce your chance of getting punched – and you can still surprise your friends, as when the dedicated beer guzzler comes as a Mormon elder, or the biggest Don Juan in the group comes as the Pope.

I never went in for a super-girlie look; never wore makeup. But for one Halloween party we threw, I came as Cher, in heavy mascara, a leopard skin body-stocking and a giant wig exploding in cascades of inky curls. I looked ridiculous. It was great. And Old Dave dressed like Sonny and looked even better in a peasant shirt, baggy harem pants and a Prince Valiant wig. He actually looked more like the early John Denver, or Moe of Three Stooges than either of those two, but still – he SEEMED to himself as Sonny Bono.

And that’s the fun of Halloween, getting to seem like someone else for a while.

Maybe I’ll dress up myself tomorrow night. I like this costume quite a bit. And what’s nicer than dining out on one of your major holidays?

Now let’s watch that cute pumpkin video from Google and all turn to each other and yell “Happy Spooky Day!” (And I’ll just run and get that cat. 🙂 )