yet another bloggy My Toddler Was So Cute for Halloween story:
a friend who lives in Toluca Lake, near beautiful downtown burbank, as johnny carson used to snidely call it, invited us over to her house for a fun halloween party the night of. kirsten dunst lives down the street from her and sponsors a soundstage where stuntmen, women and children dress up in crazy costumes and do random kung fu all over the soundstage, then later bands come and play. they close off the whole block for this. (people drive in from palmdale to see it.) spouse, who’d given his staff a half day–run, flee for the hills while you can, before the west hollywood halloween traffic madness descends!–skipped out of work and we all played hooky to Toluca.
in this neighborhood, lots of world-class production designers, costumers, and prop people put ENORMOUS amounts of energy dressing up their homes for the holiday. folks, these are professionals. these are the people who get up on stage and accept oscars for best costume design. needless to say, they go in big for scary, elaborate halloween decorations.
across the street from our friend’s house, one family had set up flashing strobe lights that i’m sure triggered at least one epileptic seizure. the lady of the house was dressed in a silvery white-blue witch costume with oscar-quality makeup and she had an eery screech down. people, this woman stood on stilts all night, waving her broom and trilling her ghastly laugh to the point where i asked spouse, “she does that ALL night? like, how do her vocal cords survive? it MUST be amplified.” he shrugged and looked at me like, “if i knew, i’d be collecting oscars for my work too instead of being a desk jockey at an internet company.”
well, the shrieky witch was one of the milder haunted houses set up on that block. there were houses with severed limbs, dead-appearing zombies lying on the grass who reached up to grab your legs when you least expected it, all kinds of gory mayhem.
CN enjoyed giving out candy to the children who came. periodically he would run up to one of us and declare: “there’s a really scary man at the door!” with much satisfaction.
when it came time to go trick or treating, we got all suited up. the much-yearned for, now mostly played-out Thomas the Tank Engine Engineer costume which i’d hunted down online (discontinued, of course!) was rescued from the discarded heap in the corner, assembled and worn. we readied our trick-or-treat bag for candy collection.
Cutie Nubbin and i stepped past the clutch of goblins and ghouls who were busy harvesting the host’s house of candy, and made our way down the dark driveway. you couldn’t help but see the flashing lights of the shrieking witch house across the street and hear her.
CN froze. i tried to comfort him, held his hand tighter, and said “it’s just pretend, halloween is when we pretend all kinds of scary things, but for fun.”
he hung back. the witch was too much. the randomly costumed adults milling around the darkened sidewalks were too much. the lights, the shrieking. all too much.
CN turned around, walked back up the steps of our host’s house, collected his candy and then went inside to play the rest of the night.
i was perfectly happy, as he’d collected all of two mini tootsie lollipops and a watermelon bubble gum that i’ll chew up now that he’s forgotten about it.
maybe next year he’ll grow into the holiday’s darker side more. i’m in no hurry.