Saturday, October 24, 2015

Boulevard of Broken Pumpkins

This was originally written October 24, 2009. It popped up on Facebook's "On This Day" feature. 

Today is Saturday and next Saturday is Halloween. I requested the day off. It wasn't really necessary since my son is 15 and no longer dresses up and sets out as a beggar for the night pleading for candy. Those days of knocking on doors and holding out your bag (in my case a pillow case) seem to be dwindling. Because of the lack of porch stomping, costumed children I make certain to buy candy we like. Left overs must be pleasing. 

It's a shame that the children of today have to miss out on the random hijinx of days gone by. Maybe I'm off base and the kids from less fortunate areas are taking a charter bus to the affluent neighborhoods. I know we weren't above that. We'd convince someone's parent or, more likely an older sibling who could drive, to take us out where it was rumored that full size candy bars were being handed out.

The last year I took to the streets on October 31 was my 8th grade year. I dressed as a girl from the '50s. I had borrowed an authentic poodle skirt years prior from a neighbor and failed to return it. So, that became the article of clothing that I would build my costume around. We always used whatever we had to dress up. If we purchased anything it meant a trip to the local Salvation Army Store. Very little money was spent on costumes. That is with the exception of my friend Renee'. She was an only child and always had top of the line everything. She set out with my 'hood friends and I that final Halloween. Renee' had long moved out to the budding suburban sprawl of Bourbonnais -- a town that has the French pronunciation phonetically spelled out on it's welcome sign. Ya know, so you realize it's fancy. Anyway, Renee' in all her traditionalism insisted on carrying her blasted freakin' orange pumpkin bucket she'd carried since she started trick or treating.

 My junior high friends and I were toting the respectable pillow cases. We were just slightly embarrassed to be strolling along with plastic orange pumpkin girl. It wasn't even a gigantic pumpkin. It was less than average sized and incapable of carrying the hefty load we intended to gather. Knowing this would be our final year to ring doorbells for free candy, we were determined to make it bigger and better than ever. No house would go un-treated. Not a porch we would not occupy (briefly). Pillow cases would be filled, dropped off and dumped only for us to set out again to collect more more more. Curfews? Bah!! It was a shop til you drop moment, baby.

Or so we thought.

Trailing a few steps behind we heard the whines of a pumpkin toting princess... "I'm tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired." She was my guest! What the hell was I to do? I couldn't tell her to go wait at my house while I finished conquering the neighborhood and plotted to get a ride to another neighborhood. Doing my best sales pitch, I convinced Renee' that the end was near. She reluctantly followed but continued to lag behind.

Then. it happened. Like a lion attacking the weakest member of the herd, two boys came running from the darkness and ripped that little pumpkin from Renee's grasp. CANDY SNATCHERS!!!!!!! We all started screaming for help and Renee' was in tears. Not for the candy lost, but the single piece of her Halloween nostalgia. It was as if her childhood had been violently stolen from her hands. Her little pumpkin was gone. 

Sans a white steed and horns of triumph bellowing, a man came bolting from his house and a foot chase ensued down the dark street. A ruckus could be heard. Then, moments later a figure emerged from the shadows. The stranger was carrying a slightly tattered orange pumpkin. There was no consoling her. We thanked the man for his kindness. Rather than continue our quest for confections, the hero of the night safely escorted us back to our homes. Cradling the pumpkin now with a broken handle, Renee' called her mom to retrieve her.

We never did trod back out into the night. It seemed wrong even though our fun had been hampered by the less than enthusiastic Renee'. After we cut her loose we very easily could have taken our pillow cases back out for refills, but it was clear that our Halloween days were over.

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