The doorbell rang and I got excited. It was a little past 6 p.m. last Sunday, and it was Halloween night — trick or treat. I hoped that within a few minutes there would be a flood of laughing and screaming children walking up to my door demanding treats.
“Trick or treat!” I so wanted to hear that as I scooped up hands full of treats from my giant bowl of quality candy. Let it be known, I give out the good stuff. And, shortly, the bell did ring, along with a little knock. It was starting!
There was an excited little boy dressed in some kind of silver monster fish costume with long claws standing in the bright light at the door. His grandmother was with him. But it was just him alone. There was no chorus of trick or treat!
I stopped and talked to the little monster fish. Turns out he was five years old and was not buying my claim that I was an old teenager. Nope, “You are old,” I was told. I wound up talking to him and grandmother for about 10 minutes. Turns out the grandmother has lived on my street, a few blocks down, longer than I have. (Not knowing your neighbors is a column for another day.)
But as much fun as our conversation was, that little boy was the only kid to visit my house that night. I was sad, not just for me, but for so many children who did not get the fun of this night of whimsy and creativity.
No doubt COVID-19 was the bad wolf that stole Halloween. The threat of illness was too great. But, hey, even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s top medical adviser, had said that trick or treat could be done safely this year.
Perhaps news of random violence in the city was another deciding factor. Or, maybe the news stories are true that adults and older siblings don’t feel going door-to-door is their thing.
Whatever it was, it robbed me of acting silly with the children. I couldn’t encourage them to spin around in their costumes to get more candy. Or repeat some limerick. Or force them to sheepishly say “Thank you” once they got the treat.
In the scope of things, my sadness over Trick or Treat is minuscule in importance given the hell happening right now. But, I feel it is yet another of my life traditions — my normalcy — that is melting away.
There was no chance to make the parents laugh at me as I conversed with their little Wonder Woman or Batmen. And, I couldn’t chide the much-too-old teens who would look away from me as they stuck out their bags for stuff.
I would call them out, shoo them away, then have them turn and return, so I could toss something in their bags. I mean, who am I to criticize them since I was that kid once or twice or three times myself.
Looking out over my street Sunday, it seemed so much longer and darker than usual. The little scary fish and his mom had long since disappeared into the night.
I did feel a little brighter the next day when I heard some people say they had some young visitors in their neighborhoods. Good for them. But they admitted it was not as much as before.
I am hopeful that we will get healthier as a nation by continuing to knock COVID-19 off its feet. I know it will never go away, so it’s important that we remain vigilant by doing things to reduce the number of infections.
Maybe next year there will be so many children at my door, including an older scary fish, that I will fear that I will run out of treats. And, if that happens, it will be so boo-ti-ful!
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.