Halloween & Other Miscellany

October, 1999

Greetings Guys and Ghouls!

It's finally over, and we survived, so far. It's Halloween, when we disguise our children, taking (or sending) them out to the neighbors to show off their costume creativity and get their fill of all the treats that they can possibly carry back home. Some of my neighbors gave away full size candy bars and other big treats to the kids they knew, sort of a "private reserve" for the kids on the inside track.

(James dressed up as a computer (complete with monitor) and Peter was a cowboy. Both came home with enough candy to keep themselves energized into the new millenium.) 

The candy of choice in Naperworld is still chocolate, which we gave away by the shovel-full to the massive minions of migrating monsters that passed by our front door. The Nestle' crunch, the Kit Kat, the Snickers bar were all acceptable, but the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup was the true "krugerand" of the day, according to the recipients. Countless fat laden calories passed from me the wizened cholesterol-conscious member of the "nutritionally-correct", into the hands of the innocent. The sugar buzz. Oh the humanities!

For the next ten days, the entire neighborhood will suffer the effects of a massive sucrose hangover. Hundreds of pre-pubescent youngsters will vibrate uncontrollably throughout the day, and be totally unable to keep still, even when asleep. Parents will eat the leftovers and raid the goodie bags of their children. 

And why not? Halloween, when we have "just a little too much", signals the beginning of the calorie season, the warm-up to the full-blown excesses of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Millions of grown-ups will finish off the bowl of leftover treats sitting next to the front door without a second thought, thus starting the cycle of over-indulgence that will finally end January 3rd, when these same people will stare down at their bathroom scales with a shocked look of disbelief, and wonder as to when it all started. Be warned! It is just possible that the true demon of Halloween resides in your candy dish, just waiting for you like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Remember the famous saying, "A moment on the lips -- forever on the hips?"

Wendy and I have developed a strategy for sanity on the holiday. At 7 PM we turn off our porch light, thus signaling our withdrawal from the door to door festivities. But just prior to this, the last trick-or-treater(s) get the remaining candy that we have on hand. All of it, even if there is a pound and a half left in the bowl. (You should see the face on the kid who gets this windfall, when we dump it in his bag. This is not popular with the parents, by the way.) This way, we lose most of the temptation to just try one. Of everything. Next, we inspect the kids' candies for foreign objects before letting them hide it. Not necessarily from each other, but mostly from us. Out of sight, out of mind. This way we can keep most of the month of November under control, and we won't be as hyper for the holidays. This strategy works a lot better than our old one, which was to put the excess candy into a neighbors' mailbox, well after dark. (It wouldn't work. They would just send it back, with interest.)

My local bank was bought out by a major restaurant chain, and the new owners claim that they aren't going to make any significant changes to the bank's operation. I am a little suspicious though. I have noticed that a juke box has been installed in the lobby, and the ATM has been replaced with
a carry out window. It's also a little disconcerting to do serious transactions when all the tellers are wearing paper hats. If a 20 foot tall statue of a pompadored cherub wearing checkered overalls appears outside the front doors, this may indicate a change of corporate outlook. In other words, "welcome to the First National Bank of Big Boy."
The mortgage on my house was sold again, this time to a fourteen-year-old, who traded his complete set of Poke'mon collector cards for it. My new payment book has coupons with pictures of Pik'achu and Charmander on them. If I send in all my sons' cards, the mortgage holder (Timmy) will knock off about nine years worth of payments.

October was a stellar month, to say the least. The transmission in our minivan started hemorrhaging precious fluids down the driveway. A bevy of transmission specialists (the automotive equivalent to Internal Medicine) pronounced the Caravan's condition terminal. (or $1500.00, whichever comes first) 
At first it was hard to imagine living in Naperworld as a family with only one car, but actually it's manageable. In fact, I have discovered a new subculture. I found it when I got on the local bus heading for the Metra train station at 5:30 this morning. I discovered that all the riders on the bus, including myself, had either a cell phone or a notebook computer (or both) with them. The overhead lighting on this bus was subdued, and everybody was either talking on their phones, reading something or working with their computers. It was the bus version of "business class." All we needed was someone with a DVD player to provide the in-flight movie.(By the way, with whom do you need to speak on a cell phone at 5:30AM?)
The Route 59 train station was even more incredible. Our bus rolled through a parking lot filled with Cadillacs, Mercedes' and Lexi, before depositing us in front of the western suburbs' own Emerald City (if the land of Oz had a train station, this would be it.) A dozen or so of the world's most intense people were inside waiting in the ticket line, mooooving like a herd of cattle. Others in the waiting room were standing in neat rows, each one browsing a newspaper in one hand and drinking out of a commuter mug with the other, briefcases between their feet and all motions perfectly synchronized, whilst the Nervous Ones milled about the train platform, moving around like the players on one of those old-time electric vibrating-table type football games. It was easy to imagine these commuters in medieval garb, with musicians and jugglers among them, acting out some Shakespearean group scene while waiting for the train:

"Wherest art thou bound, kind sir?"
"I travelst with haste of duty speed towardst Downers Grove. Is this conveyance an Express?"
"Nay, sir. Thy journey shall find interruption at many intermediate points. Thou art upon a "milk run."

"Drat I say! Must I share passage with such odiferous swine! Dost thou not bathe?"

"I shall relinquish my seat to yon maiden garbed in crimson gown and jogging shoes."

"Make way! My carriage awaits! Must you peasants block your queen's path?"

I knew that life in the suburbs would get to me someday.

Gotta go, the stationmaster wants us to practice doing "the wave."