By Michael Collier
A few of us — Hillary Clinton, Vlad Dracula,
Oprah Winfrey, and Trotsky — peer through
the kitchen window at a raccoon perched
outside on a picnic table where it picks
over chips, veggies, olives, and a chunk of pâte.
Behind us others crowd the hallway, many more
dance in the living room. Trotsky fusses with the bloody
screwdriver puttied to her forehead.
Hillary Clinton, whose voice is the rumble
of a bowling ball, whose hands are hairy
to the third knuckle, lifts his rubber chin to announce,
"What a perfect mask it has!" While the Count
whistling through his plastic fangs says, "Oh,
and a nose like a chef." Then one by one
the other masks join in: "Tail of a gambler,"
"a swashbuckler's hips," "feet of a cat burglar."
Trotsky scratches herself beneath her skirt
and Hillary, whose lederhosen are so tight they form a codpiece,
wraps his legs around Trotsky's leg and humps like a dog.
Dracula and Oprah, the married hosts, hold hands
and then let go. Meanwhile the raccoon squats on
the gherkins, extracts pimentos from olives, and sniffs
abandoned cups of beer. A ghoul in the living room
turns the music up and the house becomes a drum.
The windows buzz. "Who do you love? Who do you love?"
the singer sings. Our feathered arms, our stockinged legs.
The intricate paws, the filleting tongue.
We love what we are; we love what we've become.
When the weather has cooperated and when Halloween has fallen on a weekend or school holiday -- the first quarter ends at the end of October, so it's sometimes a conference day, as Monday is this year -- we have often gone to Scott's Run, where the creek joins the Potomac River. That's what we did this Halloween morning, hiking over the stone bridges and down the cliff to the waterfall and flat, expansive view of the river in northern Virginia. Then we came home so Daniel could pack and get ready for the Halloween slumber party he's attending overnight; the plan is apparently Shin Megami Tensei and other video games, plus some Doctor Who, plus junk food. It's a co-ed party and if I had a different kind of kid, I'd probably be worried about what shenanigans might occur, but given what these kids are like, they are probably going to stay up all night with actual joysticks in their hands.
The rest of us stopped at Michael's for big candles to put inside our pumpkins, then at the food store for a couple of extra bags of candy and some actual food, then came home in time for the neighborhood Halloween party, which was mostly for little kids but had plenty of adults and some teen siblings milling around. I chatted with a lot of neighbors and took a lot of adorable photos of small children in costumes, then came home for a rushed dinner with trick-or-treaters already starting to arrive. I had miniature Snickers, Three Musketeers, Kit Kat, Reese's, Nestle Crunch, Milky Way, and Butterfinger, then Adam made the devastating discovery that Junior Mints contain gelatin, which will sadly make it easier for me not to overeat at the movies from now on. Even so, it was a lovely evening, with cool weather and fewer visitors than previous years. If only the Redskins had not had such a horrible afternoon!
...while I got to hang out in a coven of witches (the one in the center is Cybel, the mother of Daniel from above; the one on the left is a friend of hers).
It was quite a good crowd at the party, where there were homemade cupcakes and cookies, plus juice boxes, cheese balls, pretzels, even carrots.
Many lions were prowling, plus an assortment of princesses, dinosaurs, fairies, cowboys, witches, clowns, horses, superheroes, and firefighters (I asked the latter which way to vote on the ambulance fee ballot measure, but since they were four years old, they had no opinion).
Rosie was viciously tortured by being forced to wear a witch hat for 42.6 seconds.
Several neighborhood houses had tombstones, skeletons, and ghosts as well as pumpkins.
And a couple had big inflatable decorations.
The Wigles even had a fog machine.
Obligatory shot of our Stewart/Colbert pumpkins on the front porch awaiting trick-or-treaters.