Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

by Tory Butterworth

Now that we've officially moved on from Halloween to All Saint's Day, I feel I have license to complain about the holiday without spoiling it too much for anyone else.

I don't have a very good relationship with Halloween. Apparently it started before my birth.

The story my mother tells is that one faithful Halloween night she was pregnant and threatening to miscarry. She was under strict doctor's orders to remain horizontal. My Dad had a bad case of the flu. He was on the phone with his mother when he passed out.

My mother described crawling around on the floor, trying to get a blanket over him. Meanwhile, the neighborhood kids arrived in a steady stream chanting, "Trick or treat, trick or treat!" I guess the good news was that Dad recovered, Mom had her baby, and undoubtedly the children's health was improved by one less treat.

My own personal Halloween story happened at age thirty, while moving from Michigan to Pittsburgh. That morning I awoke to a sign: bloody entrails strewn across my bedroom floor. A heart here, a liver there. It was my cats' present of a mouse (I think it was just one.)

My original plan was to start driving before six and arrive by noon. At a rest stop off the Ohio Turnpike, I tried to fill my gas tank and the liquid poured onto the pavement. That was my second clue that the day was not going as expected.

After a four-hour detour into farm country to get a new part, I once again resumed my journey. I got into Pittsburgh at rush hour. Lets just say I wasn't used to those narrow, windy roads, particularly driving a moving van. I did okay until I turned into the driveway of my new apartment and the van's bumper wedged into the wheel well of a parked truck. It was positioned such that moving my van forward or backward was likely to turn minor damage into major body work.

My frantic search for the truck owner was punctuated by shouts of, you guessed it, "Trick or treat, trick or treat!"

This fiasco was not without its up side. Two friends of mine were coming to help me unpack, but lost the address of my new place. One remembered it was in Bellevue and called the local police department, who reported an obstruction created by a moving van on Sprague Street.

Any other Halloween horror stories out there? Or is it just me?


Joyce said...

Funny, Tory!

I'm glad you stayed in Pittsburgh after all that!

Meryl Neiman said...

How sad. I love Halloween, although I could have done without those teenage boys who grabbed fistfuls of candy from my bowl and ran off despite my protests.

Tory said...

Joyce: I guess you might call it part of the "hazing ritual" (like fraternities do) that got me to commit to Pittsburgh. The social psychology theory is that the more grief you have to go through to get something, the more committed to it you become. After that, I was ready to stay here!

I left for another day the stories of going home to Michigan for Thanksgiving that year and my car dying on the Ohio Turnpike with two cats in the trunk (and no job yet.)

And then there's the story of my first job in Pittsburgh, and how my new boss almost died a couple of weeks after I was hired.

I guess I'm VERY committed to Pittsburgh!

Tory said...

Meryl: I noticed last night how "grabby" the kids were with the candy. One piece was not enough!

Is this a new trend or just evidence I'm not around kids much in my life?

Joyce said...

Meryl and Tory, all the kids in my neighborhood are afraid of me because they know I work for the police dept. They wouldn't DARE take more than one piece!

Tory said...

Joyce: one of those unexpected benefits of the job!

Nancy said...

The most successful part of our crime scene last night was my husband dressed like a police officer. One kid had his hand in the candy bowl, ready to grab a huge fistful when Jeff loomed in the doorway behind me. The kid froze. He stared up at Jeff. He whispered, "Are you a real cop?" With his hand slowly pulling away from the candy. It was a "moment."

My mother hated Halloween, Tory.--She's one who turns out her lights and hides in the basement during trick-or-treat hours. She was a real party pooper when I was growing up. I guess that's why I love making a big deal out of it.

Hey, big recovery vibes going out to Mary Alice, of Mystery Lovers Bookshop today! Here's to a completely successful surgery.

mike said...

There must be something about moving to the Burgh that brings out the worst luck, Tory. It was February, '77, one of the coldest winters on record. I drove the moving van from D.C. while my friend, Wayne, followed in my VW Beetle. He didn't tell me until we got to the apt. in East Liberty (still a desirable neighborhood then) that the heater in the car broke down somewhere on the Turnpike. Poor guy really was half frozen!

Kristine said...

Tory, I'm also glad you stayed in Pittsburgh.

Don't have any Halloween horror stories, but I can tell you that some of the kids in my neighbhorhood can be rather grabby, too. I didn't have anyone actually reach into the bowl, but I did get a few looks that suggested, "I only get ONE piece? What's up with that???"

Joyce said...

Maybe they're so grabby because the candy bars have gotten so small! A gazillion years ago, when I went trick or treating people gave out full size candy bars. Now we just give out those little tiny things. Hardly worth getting dressed up for!

Tory said...

Nancy: That DOES sound like a "moment." Did you get a picture? I'd love to see pics of your, "crime scene."

Mike: is it moving to Pittsburgh or the Turnpike that brings out the worst kind of luck? Some day, I need to write a collection of short stories called, "Tales from the Turnpike."

Kristine: your visitors minded their manners better than mine. Every single one of the kids grabbed either the bowl or the candy! I feel better realizing my reaction was not totally off-base.

Cathy said...

My favorite part of Halloween was dressing up with boyfriend Roy as adults for parties and dances. We became fictional characters--we were someone else for a space of time.

In my little corn town in Ohio growing up, we only had candy at Halloween and Easter. So that was our favorite holiday, at least until Christmas came.

I had to work last night, so I didn't buy any treats, but I got home early, so had to skulk in the house with the lights low.

Tory said...

Cathy: only candy at Halloween and Easter? Just shows how much our diets have changed in the past twenty years.

Probably we'd all be healthier if that was still true.

mike said...

I'm new at this candy-giving ritual...last night was only the second time I've done it. So I guess I do it all wrong. For instance, I keep the bag inside the house so none of the greedy little urchins can get near it. But I also give everyone a handful of goodies--do people really only give out one of those teeny candy bars each time? And then I leave all of them with this reminder: Don't forget to brush your teeth before going to bed!

Kristine said...

I gave away popsicles (the liquid packages you put in the freezer) this year instead of chocolate, and much to my surprise they were a BIG hit.

Tory said...

My rule of thumb is I buy treats I'm willing to eat after, because I always end up with so much left over. I like the popsicle idea, Kristine!