Games People in Culs-de-Sac Play
By stephbernaba on October 09, 2012
Last night, at around 7:15pm, our doorbell rang. Scurrying to reach it quickly, I fumbled through the gate and skated, in slippered feet, to the door. I peeked through the privacy glass and saw a figure, and then saw it no more.
I opened the door quickly, hoping to catch them, but all I found was a pumpkin treat pail, with this note inside:
I didn’t know how to feel. We’d been Boo’d. Sideswiped. Blindsided. Sneak-attacked.
As I walked back to the kitchen, clutching the bucket of holiday cheer like a football, my son called out to me from the family room.
“Mommy? What is it?” He asked, enunciating his S‘s and T’s carefully.
“Uh…Halloween!” I managed, through my thoughts. “It’s Halloween!”
“Halloween!” he exclaimed with a smile.
I brought the bucket back to the kitchen island and set it down. What was this? What was in here? Why was it in my kitchen? Twenty-five years of city living hit me with the force of ten Mack trucks. We don’t just leave things on other people’s doorsteps.
Now, before you conjure an image of me with a cigarette tucked behind my ear and a switchblade in my sock, let me explain. I lived next door to relatives (well, relatives of relatives, but it’s all the same when you’re a kid) most of my life, and, in general, enjoyed wave-hi-occasionally-and-complain-ab0ut-all-the-snow relationships with all my neighbors. I played with the girls who lived up the street, and savored the comforting aroma of freshly baked bread each morning from the bakery next door. So, not exactly Compton. I’d say more like Little Italy, except fewer people and buildings. And no one yelled, “Anthony!” out the window on Wednesday nights. Unless you count my grandmother.
After the nice, old Italian people began to, well, for lack of a better word, die, our neighborhood went the way of all old neighborhoods on the outskirts of a city, and my mother didn’t want to move. Let’s just say things have changed. Let’s just say if someone knocked at my door and it wasn’t a) someone I already knew, b) Chinese food, or c) furniture, I wouldn’t open it.
Let’s also just say I wouldn’t bring in a brightly colored basket left on my steps.
I was jarred out of my overly complicated memory reel by my son, sweetly asking, “Candy? Candy for me?”
“Oh, honey,” I answered, “Mommy has to look inside and see.”
And that’s when I made the gruesome, gruesome discovery: two sheets of Halloween stickers, three pumpkin-shaped bubble dispensers, three pencils, three glow-in-the-dark bats, and three tiny ghouls connected to tiny parachutes, all lying playfully on a bed of fun-size candy. It was
I stared down, and, as one would expect, separated each set of items from the other and laid them out on the counter. And stared. And now I have to make two more of these things and drop them off at two peoples’ houses? Oh, man! Why’d they have to pick us? (And we all know that if they didn’t pick us, I’d have my panties twisted in a knot wondering why they didn’t. Just saying.)
There was no denying it was cute. There was no denying they thoughtfully chose to include enough toys for each of my children. There was no denying there were Starburst in there. And there was no denying that, for a brief moment, amongst the battalion of insects, leaks, and surprises we’ve encountered this summer, I was happy that my family lived here.
It was at that point I realized I was Oscar the Grouch, just not as green. I wanted you to scram, but I wanted you to come overso I could tell you to scram. I want you around and I don’t. Okay, neighborhood? Okay? I’ve never seen such a thing before, had no idea whatsoever that people engaged in such merriment, but I like your little game, alright?
It was a small gesture that made my kids happy and brought a smile to my face. And I guess I’ll go out to the store (you know, even though I’m busy and dirty and tired), and make two baskets, yadda yadda yadda, and leave them for two other families.
So, uh, Happy Halloween. Or whatever.
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