Giving out candy on Halloween night for as long as I've been doing it has made me something of an observer. I get to study how adults and children act when approaching my haunt. If they're the type to pause and appreciate everything, or the sort that rushes up and away without hesitation and without looking back. There are the people that kneel down and study props, tapping lightly at the mache. And the ones that get brushed with threads hanging down from the tree branches like thin spider webs and scream and run off before getting candy. There are parents that get frustrated with their children who clearly are too terrified to walk into the shadows for candy. And parents who love to sit back and watch their children slowly approaching the porch, with huge proud smiles.
I've also seen children grow up - going from trick-or-treater to parent. That's the most peculiar feeling. I'll see a young man carrying his own child, and I can remember when he was too scared to come up for treats. Crazy.
Then there's something else - Death. There's a cloaked figure that walks slowly around the neighborhood. A black hooded cloak, the deluxe variety, and a rubber skull mask. I'm assuming it's an adult male based on the height and build. I'm not exaggerating or embellishing in any way - I see him every single year and have seen him for as far back as I can remember. I don't know if it's the same guy or maybe a few guys over the years. But there's always just the one lonely figure, keeping to himself and not stopping at houses for candy. He's in character too, a strange slow walk, like a one-man funeral procession.
It's a neat concept, an adult who never gave up on Halloween. Keeps a cloak and a mask in a drawer or closet all year long. On Halloween night, he leaves work early, has dinner, puts a bowl of candy out on the porch with a "Help Yourself" sign, and then dons a rich dark cloak and an old tattered latex mask, the kind that smells like new sneakers. I bet he's smiling under there the whole time.
Or maybe it's really Death.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009