Necco Wafers are a candy made by the United States-based New England Confectionery Company (Necco). Necco Wafers were first produced in 1847 and are considered by Necco to be its core product. Each roll of Necco Wafers contains eight flavors: lemon (yellow), lime (green), orange (orange), clove (purple), cinnamon (white), wintergreen (pink), licorice (black), and chocolate (brown).
Blessings to you and all your hallowed saints.
I’m trying to decide if I like Halloween. I guess if I have to ask myself that question in the first place, it should tell me something. But what is it supposed to tell me?
As with most things, I don’t know how I feel about something until I write about it. So here are my off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts about Halloween.
1. It’s damn inconvenient, most of the time. Approximately 5/7 of the time it happens on a school night (I’m not going to do the math for leap years… if you care to do it for me, feel free to leave a scathing mathematical response in the comments). My children consume os much candy on this night that the following day’s title–Day of the Dead–has taken on new, terrifying significance.
2. I have never like dressing as anybody but myself. Costumes are uncomfortable, sometimes expensive, and moderately ridiculous. Nobody has ever mistaken me for a clown, or a congressman, or a slutty nurse. They only time I’ve been remotely comfortable dressing up for Halloween was when I had a Superman costume made for me to match my son’s which was essentially sweats with a Superman S sews onto the shirt and a cape velcroed across the back. Yeah. It was sweats. I went as a guy in sweats. That was perfect. And I still wear that shirt.
3. I similarly do not like decorating the house. My youngest son wants more and more decorations. But I barely have the time or patience to make sure the house is ready for winter. Why do I also have to drape spiderwebs across the front porch?
4. People get weird on Halloween. Even small stuff–like last year when someone crushed our jack-o-lanterns. Why do that? What is the point? Is that really fun for you? You want tell my 7-year-old why you crushed his jack-o-lantern? You want my foot in your face? Just because it’s a fake holiday, that’s not an excuse for you to be an asshole. (Save all your assholeness for the real holidays, like Independence Day, right?)
5. Bad candy. Ugh.
I probably don’t need to go on. Yeah, I get that my kids love Halloween. They like the terrible candy and they like to go trick-or-treating. And the older kids are growing out of it, so I don’t have to deal with as much heartache (Halloween is in half and hour and I don’t know what I’m going to be yet!), and I guess it’s kind of fun to see how much they love it. But this is not enough to compensate for the discomfort I feel at one more “holiday” that has been utterly detached from its original meaning. I’m not going to go so far as to yell at trick-or-treaters to get off my lawn (I don’t even have a lawn), but I’ll register my reluctance to be enthusiastic about tomorrows “festivities.”
Trick or treat,
smell my feet,
gimme something good to eat.
Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon after all.
Here is an example of a conversation between myself and my daughter, Grace:
Me: Grace, it’s time to get up.
Me: Are you up yet? We have to get ready now. I can’t have you making everyone late for school.
Me: Do you need to get into the bathroom?
Me: Can you empty the dishwasher before we go?
Me: Will you do it later?
Me: I could use some help here.
Me: I don’t think I’m shouting. This isn’t shouting. Am I shouting? Can you hear me if I don’t raise my voice?
Me: I’m calm. I am. I’m not acting out my frustration. I’m not saying cruel things. I’m not trying to force you to do anything I wouldn’t force your brothers and sister to do. I’m just asking for some help. Would you please, just, indicate somehow that you’ve heard a word I’ve said?
Me: I understand.
Me: No, you’re right. I don’t. I could’t possibly understand. But I try. And I don’t know that you try to understand me. If you could understand… but… I guess what I’m saying…
Me: Do you know the silence changes? I’m talking to the air, yeah, maybe, to nothing, to you, and somehow the silence changes and it’s somehow more infuriating, more distant, more sullen and full of emptiness?
Me: Could I get a hug or something?
Me: A little hug?
Me: A touch? A wave? A whisper?
But there is nothing. Never once has she responded. And it has been this way since the very first day when I told her, still inside her mother’s belly, when I forcefully commanded her to move, to kick, to show us any sign that she was still in there, still coming to us happy and healthy, she has refused to respond to me since that very day.
And she continues to refuse even today, just as I’m trying to write normal things about normal people doing normal things, but I can’t keep her from tugging at me, from pulling me this way and that, and though I ask her to please do something else for awhile so I can get some things done, I won’t be able to move forward until I give her some emotional space—until I write about her or light a candle or meditate or listen to a song that reminds me of her.
Always she is a challenging child, in part because she is always here. I can’t just send her to school or drop her off for a sleepover or tell her to take a walk around the park. It’s not that she just never leaves the house—she never leaves my side.
I make light of it sometimes because the alternative is darkness. Or I might go in the opposite direction and allow myself the darkness for awhile. But sometimes I want neither. I just want to ask Grace to empty the dishwasher, and have her give me that exasperated sigh–nothing but pure annoyance–before exclaiming “fine,” then pulling the dishwasher open, drawing out the dishes in a huff and placing them noisily in the cupboards, dangerously close to breaking each one as she sets it atop the last.
I can imagine her doing this, but it’s never real. The only dish she has ever broken is one I have dropped because I couldn’t breathe for a moment. The only exasperated sigh she’s ever made has been inside my head. The only day she’s ever been angry with me is a day I’ve been angry with myself. But I would take annoyance over this unbearably indifferent silence every day.
Empty the dishwasher, Grace. Just empty the goddamn dishwasher.
More about Grace and Grief and Life can be found here.
Seven: “Dad, did you make it to the major leagues?”
Seven: “Minor Leagues?”
Seven: “Little League?”
Me: “Um. Yes. And I played in high school.”
Seven: “Wow. You weren’t very good at baseball, were you, Dad.”
Me: “Well I… I wasn’t terrible. I mean. Hardly anybody goes to the major leagues.”
Seven: “But you didn’t even go to the minor leagues. I mean, I’m already better at baseball than you. And Dad, Little League? Really? That’s all?”
Me: “I SAID I PLAYED IN HIGH SCHOOL IT’S NOT AS EASY AS YOU’RE MAKING IT SOUND AND IT’S NOT LIKE I EVEN WANTED TO PLAY IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES SO I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M FEELING SO DEFENSIVE ABOUT THIS.”
Seven: “Really? You didn’t want to play baseball in the Major Leagues? Why not?”
Me: “Because it’s just not something I wanted. You have to want to spend your whole life playing baseball. You have to spend a really long time do doing that, and practicing every day, and I never really wanted that.”
Seven: “That’s weird.”
Yeah. That’s weird. But you know what? I don’t have to take this from a kid who isn’t even one hundred percent clear on how a run is scored.
I don’t have to. But I will. Because that’s just the sort of Dad I am.
One day Letterman will get the MacArthur Genius award just for this.