Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Maybe It's the Candy

Only hours away from zero-hour, it's finally starting to feel like Halloween.

As a kid, I remember the lead-up to Halloween was often weeks of planning and covertly lighting off firecrackers. The firecracker part is self-explanatory, with the possible exception of bottle rockets -- single stage; three stage rockets are inferior -- that are akin to Silly Putty in the many different uses we came up with, which mostly revolved around firing them out of metal tubes.

But the planning...

That always seemed to me as "carefully considered" like some kind of complicated math problem. We'd consider the best route through the neighbourhood to take, cutting across lawns when needed, take into account what houses gave away full size chocolate bars last year, then timing it out because after a couple hours people took in their jack-o'-lanterns and turned off their lights. Planning the route was key!

Layered on top of this was costume choice. If a costume was big and bulky, that meant a slower pace. Plus, you'd have to account for time being lost for taking a tumble. Big and bulky usually meant missed steps. At best, that meant stumbling down the stairs; at worst, sliding off a porch into a hedge and scattering candy in a 10' radius. As I recall we had no such motto about "Leave No Man Behind!" It was closer to, "Keep Up or We'll Leave You Behind and the Teenagers Will Eat You Alive!" A fuel of adrenaline and sugar is just about the worst combination for collaborative candy acquisition.

Bottle rockets were a
A leaner costume meant speed but it also meant you'd probably wind up feeling cold. Or wet and cold.

On the west coast, October is often marked by continual rain.

That was also the zero-hour factor that could hardly be planned for. Weather just happens, especially when you're young. There's no rhyme or reason to it. At that point, you just had to accept the cards as they fell.

One year I remember that it snowed during the walk home from school. That was a monkey wrench that no one could have foreseen. Fortunately, the snow was just passing through and within 30 minutes you'd never know it happened.

Weather was important because we didn't want to wear our coats, jackets, or gloves. What was the point of putting on a costume if no one could see it?

It's raining today and it probably will be tonight. But there's something right about that. I've seen people -- young and old -- wearing costumes today. Warms my heart just a little that for a few hours, if you want to, you can escape from the confines of reality and accept candy from strangers while wearing a mask. Any other day of the year, that same situation could result in jail time for somebody.

NOTE: Be safe out there, people. Watch out for kids that are running on nothing but sugar and adrenaline! The last thing they'll be doing is paying any attention to anything that isn't free candy.

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