Halloween was an excuse to hang out with the parents of Daughter’s bestie back in the day, to spend a warm autumn evening strolling the lanes and cul-de-sacs of their subdivision, since nobody trick or treated in our condominium complex. I have five years worth of pictures of these two preschoolers dressed as ladybugs, Ariel, dragons, and some other things I can’t make out through the fog of memory.

Last Halloween was our first away from Bestie and that subdivision, and we spent it as the grateful guests of my brother in law. Daughter accompanied an older cousin to her suburban haunts and brought in the candy haul of the ages, aided by the wits and experiences of a MIDDLE SCHOOLER.

Last night we did what our city neighborhood does on Halloween. We met up with two of Daughter’s classmates and their parents on a designated corner and proceeded to speed walk up and down tightly packed bungalow streets. It was fantastic. Our neighborhood is not kidding around when it comes to Halloween. Pretense is all it is, for kids to give reign to their imaginations, sure, but also for grown ups to have a walk and to gawk at their neighbor’s living room renovation, to lightly interrogate friends’ parents about where they live and what they do, to encircle a fire pit and drink hot cider with the neighbors out on the stoop.

Of course, Halloween is also pretense for that stooge (and every neighborhood has one) who can’t spot the line between the frightful subtext of the holiday and the sensibilities of children. He dons a grisly outfit and growls menacingly at trick or treaters. Some delight in it. Daughter did not. Only moments after encountering him, she declared her desire to go home, where she required me to lay next to her to until she fell asleep.

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