24. Boo.

Hallowe’en is different in a condo. 

When we lived in a house on a block, we enjoyed the kids trick or treating. Weather permitting, we’d sit outside with a glass of wine and chat with the parents. The house on the corner always had scary shrieks coming out, and other houses were decorated with pumpkins and witches and goblins (oh my).

One year I actually dressed up. I wore a long, flowing black academic robe and hood, and a rubber, pull-over, scary-old-geezer mask. I sat straight up in a chair in our front yard, firmly holding a leaf rake upright in my hand. I sat there silently, not moving, waiting to see if anyone figured it out. When nobody could guess, I would tell them who I was: the grim raker. At least one person that night – my wife’s husband – thought it was the greatest costume he’d ever seen. (Perhaps it was too scary for the little ones, but we saved money on candy that year.)

So, how does one do Hallowe’en in a condo? On our first condo Hallowe’en two years ago, we considered several options.

Since our building is next door to a day care center, where cute, energetic 3 and 4-year-olds frolic outside, I had a great idea. I’d just dress up like a scary old man, go over to the playground during recess, call the kids over to the fence, and offer them candy. My wife talked me out of that one. She was probably right. Bad way to introduce ourselves to the neighborhood.

There were 3 or 4 kids of trick-or-treat age in our building. We could buy four bags each of Reese’s Cups and Almond Joy, in case those kids ever came by. And then eat the leftovers.

We could each dress up real scary – not telling the other about our costume – and scare each other in the living room. And then open a bag of Reese’s Cups and watch Jamie Lee Curtis not escape from Michael Myers. (Why didn’t she just run out of the friggin’ house???)

Or we could take some candy over to our nieces’ houses a few blocks away, enjoy their friends, drink their wine, and munch on their kids’ candy with them, reminding them how bad candy is for kids’ teeth.

I forget what we ended up doing that first year. But the reality we’ve faced since then is that a five-story multi-unit structure is not the same as a block. Thirty family units in one building do not a neighborhood make. And Hallowe’en will probably never come to our condo building.

This year, the only Hallowe’en colors in our home will be the orange and black Reese’s Cups in the pantry. And that’ll be just fine. I’ve begun to question the existence of witches and goblins anyway, so this will be the final step in putting aside those childish beliefs.

We may have grandchildren in a few years, and with some luck, they’ll live somewhere in Chicagoland. Then we can watch our son resurrect with his kids the childhood Hallowe’en traditions he remembers, along with Sicilian traditions brought over by our Sicilian figlia-in-law. (How do you say “Boo!” in Italian?)

In the meantime, even though we’re in a condo, we can still buy bags of Reese’s Cups, Almond Joys, Butterfingers and Baby Ruths, just in case 100 kids happen to come by. And if they don’t…

7 thoughts on “24. Boo.

  1. I was home for the first time in quite a few years so I asked a neighbor if they had many kids – we have had new kids move in the neighborhood in the last few years. She didn’t know. They go to a party. So I put the witch on the front door and hung out the ghosty things which bounce around and go “woooooo ” when anyone/thing gets near them, put on my pumpkin antennae headband and waited. Oh yes. Waited with a bowl full of Baby Ruths (“fun size”) and Paydays. About 9:00 the doorbell rang. There were a couple of kids there, dressed up with official Halloween candy bags. But they were Not From Our Neighborhood (code: black kids). They were cuties and there was a car waiting for them. I loaded them up with Payday, keeping the Baby Ruths for self. And that was it. I have always liked Halloween and on the years we were traveling on The Day, I put on my black sequined Minie Mouse ears and a mouse nose (complete w/whiskers) and gave out Tootsie Roll midges on the plane. I tried to make eye contact with kids walking down the aisle to their seats and invariably they looked away. “There is a crazy old lady sitting there. Don’t look at her…”

  2. Larry – I enjoyed this. Made me laugh out loud. Thanks for the thoughts on.

  3. The brilliance of the Grim Raker was that he stayed in character the whole time. Deadly serious and terrifying!

  4. I was sooo good. Bought two boxes (120) of packaged Rice Crispie treats. That should be enough. But then CVS sent a BOGO coupon for candy today & I felt a little guilty. I bought 4. All of the bars got handed out – kids with jokes got 2. There were only 2 of them.

    Then I started sneaking out tge m&ms; gave sime to my neighbors who ran out. Left some on the doirstep when it quieted down.

    But I didn’t give up the Pnut butter cups. No way.

    I’m taking a bus to NYC tomorrow morning, they are coming w me aling w 2 hard boiled eggs.

    Happy Halloween, Carol & Larry

  5. I’ve missed Halloween on a block since I moved downtown. Apartment (and condo) buildings just aren’t the same.

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