Friday, November 1, 2013

The Boo!-ty of It All


Halloween has been good to me. I grew up in a place where we could walk home from school with the aroma of burning leaves in the air, and be able to drop off one full bag of treats at home – mid Trick-or-Treat – and fill another with ease, just by walking a few blocks.

In 1980, as Halloween and Election Day approached, I was running the cider mill at old Fairty’s Farm on Route 106 in New Canaan, CT and painting houses. I needed some cash, while submitting short articles and essays to penurious and elusive local newspapers and literary journals.

The mill was a one-man operation: I stuck my arms into the bins of mixed apples (careful to unravel my sleeves to protect against the pervasive yellow jackets); loaded them on the conveyor; turned on the press that separated the juice and left plenty of pomace; filled every gallon and half-gallon jug; then delivered them by tractor to the stand by the road. all of this was done under Mrs. Fairty’s watchful, critical eye. A dozen homes now stand where that mill use to be.

That year, I was invited to a Halloween party given by two friends on Park Avenue, and I knew that one of them and his wife had arranged to introduce me to someone. I figured that I should make an extra effort at a costume; so, I drove up to a place on Route 123, where I could get a large pumpkin – about 30 pounds as it turned out – I was going to be the fourth* presidential candidate, Mr. Pumpkin.

I hallowed-out the pumpkin and lined it with saran wrap; carved the traditional eyes, nose, and mouth; and painted on glasses for good measure. Then, I painted pumpkins on faded jeans, donned a black turtleneck and headed for the city.

Did I have the best costume that night? No. That honor would go to a young woman who came as a bunch of grapes in the form of many green balloons attached to her dress.

But, I came out a winner anyway, since that’s the night I met my wife-to-be, known in these pages as the DG (Darling Girl).

She had just gotten off a plane from Milan, or, was it Paris? I can’t recall for sure, but there were fashion shows involved. I do recall that her understated nod to Halloween was a broad brimmed black hat. Did I mention she brought a date? No matter.

As it happens, I spent the night talking to just about everyone but her, including a long conversation with one of her best friends. In our brief exchange, she wondered what I did, “Painting,” I replied, figuring cider-making was too complicated to explain. “Houses or paintings?”

Since she was a painter of canvases, my dull answer might not have been the best approach. Things may have ended right there, except that she did give me her phone number…which turned out to be her old one, but her old roommate gave me her new one, and we set our first date in December.

Six years later, armed with a not insubstantial down payment provided by her generous father, we bought a house in Rye’s Indian Village, closing on, of course,  Halloween. Considering the state of the house, it was a most appropriate day. It was decidedly trick and it took about three months labor to make it into a habitable treat. And so it was for eleven more years, through thin and a little less thin.

On Halloween 2001, we leapt to out feet together at old Yankee Stadium, when Tino Martinez tied the Diamondbacks with two out in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run homer, in the first-ever Halloween World Series game. We leapt again as St. Derek won it in the 12th inning,  in the wee hours of All Saints Day.

Over thirty years after that Halloween party on Park and 87th, we’ve outrun a few tricks, made friends with some of life’s goblins together and devoured more than our fair share of treats. Life looped around; now, I am the editor reading submissions and covering the local elections. I’ll help put an issue to bed on Halloween eve (Note: actually, it took us well into Halloween itself), then joined the DG at a party back in Indian Village, a small pumpkin toss from that first house.

This time, I went as myself.

* The other three: Anderson, Carter, Reagan

Ed Note: Halloween window paintings courtesy of the children of Rye, NY

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