Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love watching the leaves change color and I love the crisp air. This time of year always reminds me of county fairs and candy apples, and of course, my favorite holiday of all time, Halloween. As a kid, I loved nothing more than dressing up in some crazy costume and going door to door to collect chocolate and other sweets. Of course there was always the house where you got religious tracts or healthy, sugar-free candy that got tossed the minute we rounded the corner, but those were still heady times!

Halloween has changed a great deal since we were kids. Back in my younger days, we came up with creative costumes, like a sheet with holes cut out for eyes. One year, my brother found an old piece of a cow skeleton and wore it around his waist and went as a Georgia O’Keefe painting. (Yes, he belongs in therapy!) I had one of those really creative Moms who could make a costume out of anything and a Dad who could carve DaVinci’s Last Supper out of a pumpkin with a pencil stub and a sewing needle. And everyone in the neighborhood rose to the occasion and handed out goodies. Even the people who had social lives left bowls of candy on their porches for all of us little fiends.

Back in the good old Halloweens of yore, we got TONS of great candy. We got candy corn, Boston baked beans, Tootsie Rolls, candy bars, and candy apples. And we knew everyone in our neighborhood so we racked up. I made a cute ghost, and my ass waddled home with more candy than crap in a laxative factory. And when my older brother Patrick would serve as my escort on our Halloween jaunts, we especially loved the houses where the people were out for the evening and left a bowl of candy on their front porch. We would dump the whole bowl in our bag and head off to the next victim. Of course, my parents were very concerned that Patrick and I might actually enjoy the candy, er, I mean, eat something poisonous, so they made us deposit all of our hard earned treasure by the front door. Then, those poor dears made themselves SICK eating all of the best chocolate candies, which, as any parent knows, are the ones that creepy killer types always target, like Snickers bars. Now that I am a parent, I take the same pains to protect Jenda. She has nothing left in her Halloween goody bag except Starlite Mints and those grodie, squishy Circus Peanuts! Eew!

Fast forward to Halloween 2008. Nowadays, you just about have to take out a second mortgage to buy a cheap costume and you have to go to do-it-yourself classes to carve a basic jack-o-lantern face. This year, Jenda wanted to be a princess and her costume cost more than my wedding dress and was more elaborate! It wasn’t enough to have a dress. We had to have slippers, a wand, a tiara, and a matching Kate Spade Halloween candy collection bag. Then, Her Royal Highness decided that she wanted to have a Halloween party with her friends from the neighborhood and friends from daycare. Having been to countless children’s parties and having seen the havoc they create, I can only say that someone must have laced my food with crack, because, crackhead that I am, I agreed.

I sold my remaining kidney to pay for Jenda’s costume, buy tons of candy, food and beverages, games, Halloween crafts, and decorations for the house. Then we set about writing the invitations and giving them to all of the friends at daycare, work, and throughout the neighborhood. I assumed that we were safe inviting so many people since I knew that not everyone would come. And as usual, I was right. Out of 25 invitations, two said no. Not that it mattered, since apparently Jenda is the only ‘only child’ in her daycare. That being said, we had siblings, superheroes, princesses, and a candy corn. Many of them, on sugar high, filled with anticipation, loose in our house. (In case you’re not sure what that was like, get your Bible and look up the part about the plague of locusts!)

Having never hosted a children’s Halloween party at my house before, I figured that we would have the kids here from 5:30 pm until 7:30 pm and I would schedule their activities down to the minute. I spent a fortune on Halloween crafts, and games such as ‘Pin the Nose on the Jack-o-Lantern’. I made up goodie bags with little gifts and fun Halloween doo-dads. Then, because our house got slammed with trick or treaters last year, I bought enough candy to keep the kiddies hyped up until sometime next June. Of course, there’s some old saying about the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. They forgot to include mothers. Specifically, me.
Everyone began showing up for the party. I had spent most of the day cooking goodies and making a goopy green Halloween punch. I had decorations everywhere, I set a beautiful buffet on the table, and got the games and crafts ready. Jenda was very proud to be doing ‘door duty’ to let her friends in when they rang the bell. Then I realized that some of the people she let in were just random trick-or-treaters that came in and decided to just stay for the party. Once all of the children arrived, along with our new, random friends, my plans went straight to Hell faster than a maid runs from Naomi Campbell! No one wanted to make the little crafts I bought. No one wanted to play games. They devoured the food from the buffet, and then I found some of the kids searching through my fridge for more. I managed to get them out of the kitchen, whereupon they all ran upstairs with Jenda leading the way. I allowed the stampede to go on for a few minutes, while I tended to the adult guests. The fathers sat around talking about man-shit and looking sheepish. The mothers requested wine, and I was more than happy to oblige. Then, I went upstairs to see what was going on. Of course, I found all of the kids in Jerry’s and my bedroom, so in my best mommy voice, I said, “Hey, you little fiends! Get outta here! I beat other people’s children!” Then they ran into Jenda’s room, wrecked it, then came back downstairs where they swung from the ceiling fans and basically ran amok. One little party guest was dressed as Aqua Man, which was most appropriate since he proceeded to pee in my floor.

Jerry took one look at me and decided that the kids should begin trick or treating at that very moment if they wanted to survive to see another Halloween. Ah, salvation was at hand! I herded those kids out the door and then began gobbling Xanax, washing it down with Kendall Jackson. I had barely finished my first glass (but by no means my last that evening!) when they returned! What the….

Said Jerry, “I guess the economy is worse than we thought. Only about 5 houses are giving out candy. Everyone else has their porch lights turned off and they’re not answering their doors.” Okay, people. I know times are tough. Maybe some of you weren’t willing to sell your internal organs to get money to buy candy. But damn, we’re Southerners and parents. Tough times call for creativity. Dig in your sofa cushions or in the backseats of your cars. I know there’s plenty of candy in there you could give out. Maybe it’s covered with lint and dog hair, but just run it under some cold water. Ding dang!

So the party broke up shortly after as parents rushed home to try to get some trick-or-treating done in their own neighborhoods. I loaded them up with as much candy as I could before they left, and of course fixed a couple of the mommies up with ‘go-cups’ of Chardonnay. It’s okay, the dads were driving. I cleaned up the remnants of Aqua Man and sipped my Kendall Jackson straight from the bottle, er, I mean, out of a plastic Halloween cup. But I have noticed that even now, I am finding kids squirreled away in my house. Just yesterday, I pulled one out of my sofa cushions. They are probably looking for candy that I already handed out. So parents, please, come get your trick-or-treaters. I am running out of candy. And patience. And Huggies pull ups! And if I run out of Kendall Jackson, well, let’s just say things will get REALLY scary!

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