|illustration by Beth Adams|
We moved into the Dream House on the last Tuesday of October. Turns out, it was Halloween.
From somewhere across the first floor, around 5:30 p.m., I heard the Trophy Husband exclaim, “Halloween! It’s Halloween! Did we get anything for the trick-or-treaters?” I knew what he was getting at; in our family “we” means “you.”
Somehow I forgot to pick up a bag of candy when I was buying moving boxes, tape, and paper. It slipped my mind somewhere between packing, moving out, and actually moving in that very day. But in the back of my mind, I recalled something my new neighbor Carl said months ago. “The neighborhood does it up big,” he explained at a summer HOA soiree. “Be ready.” My anxiety morphed into a full-fledged panic attack, and I sprinted from room to room, slamming shut drapes and shutters, extinguishing all the lights.
We stole up the stairs and surveyed the onslaught. Harry Potters, Draculas, and Princess Leias, along with generic ghosts, ghouls, and goblins made their way toward the Dream House. The Trophy Husband whispered, “We’re screwed.” Our cars sat on the driveway, ripe for bitter, empty-handed doorbell ringers. We formulated a plan to sneak out, blend into the crowd (growing impatient and hostile, from the sound of the knocking), move the cars into the garage, and avert property destruction.
In a stealthy manner worthy of Special Forces commandos, we made our way out the backyard, through the ornate 8-foot gates adorned with extremely sharp fleur-de-lis finials that seemed like such a good idea in daylight, across the courtyard between the main house and garage/guest house. It was locked; the Trophy Husband abandoned the mission to fetch the keys.
Alone, in the dark, I heard a parent complain, “What’s the deal with these new people?” She gestured toward my Dream House. “This house always gives out full-sized candy bars. I hope they like eggs.”
Seconds later a USDA Grade A bomb whizzed past my head, launched, I presumed, from the beefy bicep of her son, who looked old enough to drive. It crashed a few feet behind me, a puddle of slimy yolk. I retreated to a secure position behind a tree.
The squeaky garage door raised. I hissed at the Trophy Husband, “Finally!”
Once safely inside, our daughter was waiting for us. “Where is my Halloween costume?” she asked.
I began thinking fast and proposed a ghost costume. The Spawn vetoed that when all I could find were Ralph Lauren “Guinevere”-patterned sheets.
“They aren’t white,” she pointed out. Now, I have white sheets: 1,200-thread count Egyptian combed cotton from Yves-Delorme. And if she thought I was going to cut eye holes in those luscious linens, The Spawn had another thing coming. Thirty minutes and about 50 boxes later, I found some old dance recital costumes. One of those, some Sam Moon jewelry, and a wrap made from a beaded table runner, and we were good to go.
We limited our take to the homes on the cul-de-sac, but my curiosity was piqued by the excitement of neighbor Carl’s house. Carl and his partner David have a private front patio nestled beneath vines and lanterns. Carl was hosting a pseudo awards ceremony for the kids. As he said, “Look at you, you superhero!” he slid a plastic spider ring on the child’s finger, then went on to the next, “Oh, a fairy princess! Come here, you fabulous vision in tulle.” David popped out, paparazzi style, every few seconds to photograph the gathering.
I settled into a chair next to Carl and recounted the evening’s events. I expected a little sympathy. “Give me your hand, darling,” he said as he slid a tarantula onto my pinky. “I hate to say I told you so. We do Halloween big here. Welcome to the neighborhood.”