Saturday, November 3, 2012

Snickers to the Right, Dumdums to the Left

Good Morning Folks.

Outside of the sweaty dancing tree episode at the Bang last Saturday night, Halloween passed relatively quietly in my tiny neck of the woods. A friend from work lent me Shaun of the Dead, so I could continue my annual viewing. About 40 trick-or-treaters knocked at my door frame or shouted through the screen door. I almost missed my first arrivals (three teenagers --  uncharacteristically early and well-costumed -- twoJellyBellies and a sleeve of Wendy's French fries); I opened my door to their retreating figures. "You don't have a door bell.* I didn't know what to do," explained the first bag of Jellybeans.  "Ohhh, right, sure." I gazed at the hole where the doorbell button used to be. Somehow I thought knocking was always an option.

*{Ginger, reading this:"OMG, I can't believe you haven't fixed that yet! It's an easy fix!" I know. I know, it's true.}

Outside of the first arrivals, there weren't too many standouts. Several costumes arbitrarily were what they were PLUS LIGHT SABER. One enthusiastic mutant ninja turtle, beat my piebald lawn with his light saber: "BAM! BAM! BAM!' A Walk Sign had the nice feature of glowing whitely as it progressed up the sidewalk. General cuteness, i.e. shy spiderman, a toddler devil in a tutu, earnest choruses of twick or tweet.

During the day itself, I wandered around downtown Ann Arbor to see what other costumed cuteness I could run across. The practice of trick or treating at retail operations still strikes me as very strange and as another mildly dispiriting indication of commerce functioning in a way that neighborhoods used to...though of course the local businesses also make up part of the community. Hmmm. It was lunchtime. Eventually I opted for fried food at the Fleetwood diner. It was during a lull for them; more workers than customers were there and they talked in the idle way you do when you have worked in a restaurant for years, judging who you can speak in front of, alternately ignoring the presence of diners and folding them into meandering discussion threads.

"I tell you, since you hate kids, you are in the RIGHT place," the counter woman said to an older man seated on a bar stool. "We ALWAYS have candy for the trick or treaters. And they NEVER and I mean NEVER come in here." The odor of stale frying grease hung in the air, almost as thickly as cigarette smoke once did. Band stickers plastered the aluminum walls.

"People are too cautious," added a sweet-faced fry cook. He looked to be minutes or hours above high school age.

"They just stop, look over and then the parents are like, 'Oh noooo, not THERE.' We have better candy than all the other punkass businesses downtown. Not like we spend this money just so Eric* can eat it all day." Eric grins and bobs his head.

Eric says,"You could just buy it like a day later. It's like 50% off."

"WHY would we do that?"

"It's a shame there's not a pot holiday around the same time," says Eric. Visions of multiple Bob Marleys descending chimneys and leaving behind mellow gifts unspooled through the diner. Talk inevitably turned to Ann Arbor's hobbled hashbash, how it was coopted by the Normals. I ventured to claim a KitKat on my way out.

*Fry cook, whose name I didn't catch.

Three Other Seasonal Offerings + Bonus Non-Holiday Exchange

1. One of these days I'm going to do something proper for Dia Di Los Muertos. Hasn't happened yet, though I have always loved the imagery and attendant trappings. Chelas was rumored to carry cookies for the occasion, but this did not quite happen. Hopefully next year! How cool if they could bust out with the cookies and sugar skulls, it'd be lovely. In direct contrast to my lack of initiative. Talented illustrator living in my original stomping grounds, Michele Melcher has always been devoted to Halloween and Day of the Dead. This year, she did an amazing self portrait! Initial sketch here and gorgeous complete portrait here. Dayumn.

2. If this isn't in the spirit of Halloween, I don't know what is: the work of UK illustrator Andy Fairhurst was recently brought to my attention. Many readers have probably already aware of his children superhero silhouettes, but for those of you who aren't, you're in for a treat. Perfectly captures that childhood mix of the commonplace cobbled together into something fantastical; the temporary sense of vaulted power! If you're smitten, you too, could own one, through his DeviantArt page.

3. On a recent stop at K's house to catch up and to witness the girly growth of ThreeorFour and Five*. I admired new plastic horses, sparkly doll outfits and their new found bicycle rider status. I disrupted the evening hours by drinking wine with their mother and snacking at the table when it should clearly be dinner time. Five and I discuss cursive letters; she gives me air instructions on letter technique. This flashes me back to first grade and I relate to K how Chuckie Lentz and I got into a heated disagreement about the spelling of Pennsylvania--
"--Transylvania," Five says helpfully.

"No I'm from PENNsylvania-"

"TRANsylvania," she corrects, as if I were a bit slow.

"We're in the United States and PENNsylvania is the state I'm from. TRANsylvania is another country.**"

**Region! I meant region. geez.

Five first frowns and then purses her lips with displeasure. "We have been watching a lot of commercials about that movie lately!" K notes. "We have also been learning to talk like Dracula."

"MwaHaHa," says ThreeorFour from across the table. Her delivery lacks menace. She stares mournfully at her plate. "These aren't grapes."

It's my turn to be helpful. "They are grapes. They're just smaller than the ones you usually eat." She peers at them more closely; their varietal existence somehow physically pains her. "You don't have to like them. But it's always good to try."

K, to me:"They say that kids have to try a new food eighteen times before they like it."

Three raises one closer to her mouth, ever so slowly. "See Three? That means after you try that one, you only need to eat seventeen more of those!" I gesture at the fruit plate and nod encouragingly. She looks close to tears. I am a horrible, horrible adult. 

*Clearly didn't think those through. They are now 5 and 6. Maybe I'll just temporarily freeze them, as it happens anyway right? You don't see a child for a bit, turn around a couple times and they're ramming the garage door with the family car and attempting to mislay blame. And you still think they'd maybe like some Pokemon cards.

1. Exchange between undisclosed mother and daughter.

Daughter, relating how patient her boyfriend was while she shopped for clothes: "I mean, he was really helpful."

Undisclosed mother, providing clarification: "That's because he's not a husband."

Happy November, Y'All. Finish off the candy, or squirrel it away for emergency sugar. Forgive the squirrels for ravaging your jack o' lanterns.

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