The picture above, taken in my Las Vegas home in 2009, was the last time I celebrated Halloween. Not participated in, mind you, but actually got excited and celebrated. AP and I threw a combination dinner/pumpkin painting party with our three closest Vegas girlies and we had a blast. We ate, drank, gossiped, ate, shared, I told fortunes, we played cards (did I say we ate?) and of course; we decorated pumpkins. The evening was a huge success. I was a hostess with the mostes(s?)(t?) and it felt great. Before that, the last time I really enjoyed Halloween? 1991. Yep. Know the year. Went to a party with AP and Sueby dressed as our favorite Philly band (that they were also attending) and it was hilarious; some people actually thought we were them when we walked in.
I don’t know what happened to me after that. My little bro grew up, my nieces lived too far away and I traveled to their neighborhood to take pictures and then went back to my apartment to await trick-or-treaters who never came. In the mid to late nineties I went to my mom’s house to give out candy with her, but again, the kids grew up, mom moved two hours away, my rental property got no action and I gained ten pounds every November slopping down bags of Halloween candy. Forget that rule of buying candy you don’t like; no such animal. And if you don’t like it, chances are the kiddies won’t either. Who wants to be known as the house on the block who gives out the sucko candy? Why don’t I just get it over with and hand out apples.
I wasn’t going to even participate this year. I was going to be Scrooge for Halloween, despite the fact my Tampa house got a lot of action last year. Or maybe because of it. Did I really want to spend the entire evening opening my door every five minutes: “Oooh, look at the pretty princess.” “Oh, Dracula, please don’t bite me.” “Oh, look, it’s Superman.” “Oh, wow, it’s . . . it’s . . . what the hell are you supposed to be?” I was going to leave my house around four, leave all the lights out, eat dinner out and stay at the bookstore until closing. Then last night I changed my mind. I would buy candy. I would stay home and give it out. Not because I felt the spirit move me, but because I didn’t want to move. It would take too much time and effort and money to eat out and go to the bookstore. So my laziness–or lack of motivation, whatever you want to call it–is forcing me to participate in Halloween.
So I go to Publix, pick up some groceries along with my two bags of fun size M&M variety packs, and when I go to check out I start the process of having anxiety over someone else bagging my groceries. This is precisely why I hate food shopping. Someone always packs my bags wrong. Too heavy. Crushed bread. Frozen food in with shampoo. The one thing that won’t fit, a box of cereal, in its own bag, completely wasteful. They never bag toilet paper. Why? Why not bag the tp, for the love of God and all that is holy? And now–and please bear with me on this–the bagging is usually done by someone who is mentally challenged. I have nothing against them; they do just as fine a job as those who ride the long bus, but I am mentally challenged when it comes to bagging my groceries. I make a scene, I unpack the bags right in front of the bagger just to show them how wrong they did the job, then re-pack them up to my standards. I cannot do this to someone who is mentally challenged. I would be stoned on the way out of the market. The mentally challenged girl today bagging my groceries was dressed as a country girl, not yee-ha, but milk maiden. I handed her my environmentally friendly grocery bags and asked her to please pack the heavy things in it. She packed the napkins, the pouch of tuna, the Sargento provolone cheese, I am watching her feeling like Max Braverman, the one afflicted with Asperger Syndrome on NBC’s Parenthood. I say, “Could you please put the cans in the bag, the Pantene shampoo and conditioner?” The cashier looks at me like I should just die, right there, right where I stand, evil woman picking on the fair maiden. But the girl gets it. She unpacks the bag and starts putting the cans in it. Then she tosses in the tomatoes, baby spinach, once again the pouch of tuna, keeps tossing stuff in there until I snap, “Okay, that’s enough.” Another Carrie White look from the cashier has me smiling sweetly, “I don’t want it to be too heavy.” True, the maiden grunts as she picks up the bag and plops it into my cart, with a boom that almost makes the wheels fatigue. She offers to wheel it outside for me, as all Publix employees do. “No thank you,” I say with the best smile I can muster. “Happy Halloween.” Now have I gone overboard? Do they think I was patronizing? I was simply trying not to be a controlling bitch. Appreciative of the person who puts stuff in my bags. Like the children who will knock on my door tonight. “No, don’t drop the M&M’s there; that side is for Reese’s cups.” Maybe I’ll just put the candy in a big bowl, let them decide where it goes.