Last night was what they call "Beggar's Night" in my adopted hometown. For once, the city actually managed to let the kids have their fun on the night of Halloween. See, in years past, each neighborhood seemed to set their own date as to when trick or treat would occur. Oh, they'd all be within a day or two of the "real Halloween" itself but somehow that practice seemed to cast a pall over the real date. After years of debate, I think the politicians finally got something right when they declared that there would be no more such nonsense.

Well the moon is broken
And the sky is cracked
Come on up to the house
The only things that you can see
Is all that you lack
Come on up to the house

I wasn't really looking forward to it that much. Sitting outside distributing candy to the little ragamuffins and other assorted munchkins and complimenting them on their little costumes and having to make small talk with their parents wasn't high on my list of priorities this year. There was so many more things that I had to worry about. Health issues, career matters and financial woes all seemed to lump themselves together and get stuck inside my brain and wouldn't let themselves out. Even the occassional much needed mental enema that worked so well in the past seemed to be failing me.

All your cryin' don't do you no good
Come on up to the house
Come down off the cross
We can use the wood
Come on up to the house

And then, a strange thing happened. Just when I thought my kid was entering that stage when kids become too "cool" to go trick or treating, she dyed her hair bright orange and painted her fingernails black and a witch was about to be born. Yes, a witch with bright orange hair and bright orange Chuck Taylors to match. A witch with purple and black stockings and a long flowing grayish dress with little sparkles on it. A witch with a vest that was given to her mom that had so many colors on it that it defies description. Naturally, there was also the obligatory over-sized black witches hat with an accompanying black boa and lips that were painted red. Armed with a pillow case in which to carry her stash, she was off into the night.

Come on up to the house
Come on up to the house
The world is not my home
I'm just a passin' thru
Come on up to the house

I think that's when I got a new perspective (at least for the time being) on things. I filled up a large spaghetti pot with whatever candy we had bought during the week and found a large, pretty real looking, plastic black rat, grabbed a Bud out of the 'fridge and took up my station on my front steps.

There's no light in the tunnel
No irons in the fire
Come on up to the house
And your singin' lead soprano
In a junkman's choir
You gotta come on up to the house

And much to my surprise, I began to enjoy myself. Maybe it was the company that came over or maybe it was just a piece of the fog that filled my head starting to lift. Who knows? As the kids started to roll on by, I tried to make comments to each and every one them. Yes, all of the various bumblebee's, butterfly's, evil clowns, Harry Potter characters and other assorted superhero's and villians alike were greeted with a laugh and a smile.

Does life seem nasty, brutish and short
Come on up to the house
The seas are stormy
And you can't find no port
Come on up to the house

As the night wore on and with a pretty steady stream of kids making their appointed rounds, my candy supply began running low. That's when Anna passed by on one of her trips up and down the block and I tried to cajole her into parting with some of hers. I didn't really try that hard but the message came through loud and clear.

"Nuthin' doin' Dad"

Instead, my neighbor came to the rescue and hooked me up with some of hers. I guess that's just the kinda neighborhood we live in. After all, I'd have done the same for her if she wound up in similar circumstances.

There's nothin' in the world
that you can do
you gotta come on up to the house
and you been whipped by the forces
that are inside you
come on up to the house

By the time the evening was over, the only physical evidence that remained was a lonely lollipop stick sitting at the bottom of the spaghetti pot that was once filled to the brim with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers, Nestle Crunch Bars, Kit Kats and God knows what else that was on sale at the local grocery store.

Yes, the pot was indeed empty but I on the otherhand felt pretty damn full.

well you're high on top
of your mountain of woe
come on up to the house
well you know you should surrender
but you can't let go
you gotta come on up to the house

It wasn't long afterwards that Anna made her way home and felt the need to take inventory. By that time, some more company had arrived and the conversation turned towards what qualifed as "good candy" versus " bad candy". I happened to spy a package of those cheese and peanut butter crackers in her take and asked her where she got them. In her own words...

"From some health nut down the block."

Next year, she'll be twelve and maybe that will be the year when she discovers that she's "too cool" to go trick or treating. Maybe that's the year when kids start having "official" Halloween parties hosted by parents instead of wandering the neighborhood. If that's the case, I'll probably still be sitting on the front stoop, giving out candy to the littler ones, hopefully with a smile on my face.

Oh yeah, about those cheese and peanut butter crackers I mentioned?

I ate 'em after she went to bed...

Lyrics to "Come on up to the House" copyright by Tom Waits and lifted from the album Mule Variations - thanks Tom.

CST Approved

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