For the month of October Listing Toward Forty is Listing Toward Halloween, featuring a variety of Halloween posts including many by guest authors. This post is by Audrey Berns.
On behalf of the entire Johnson household, I feel I owe you an apology and an explanation. Though it goes without saying, our family prides itself on giving 110% when it comes to celebrating Halloween, Christmas, or any other occasion that requires lawn decorations. I will be the first to admit that this past Halloween, we let you down.
When we went to unpack our Spooky Halloween Graveyard, we discovered that it had fallen prey to the recent water damage in the basement, and that the tombstones were simply unusable. We also realized, too late, that both our inflatable pumpkin and articulated talking skeleton had been taken from our garage this summer by the same thieves who made off with our tandem bicycle. To make matters worse, Mr. Johnson developed an allergy to the stage makeup he uses for his Ghoulish Caretaker costume, and as many of you indicated, he really wasn’t “that scary.” Were it not for the cobwebs festooning our front bushes, you would have thought we were out of town. Though of course we would never go out of town for a holiday that required neighborhood participation.
Secondly, I want to apologize for this year’s candy gift bags. As everyone knows, we typically stick with top shelf candy: the Kit Kats, the Starbursts, the William Sonoma candy corn, and of course, Twix–all bundled up in a cellophane wrapper and tied with a decorative twist tie. It’s no secret that a number of kids make more than one trip up the Johnson steps on Halloween, and we are happy to oblige. Some of you have implied that I waited until the last minute this year and had to make due with the candy aisle rejects, but that is simply not true. I chose to buy Necco Wafers, Mary Janes, candied orange slices and loose jelly beans. It was a concept. The box of raisins was meant to be ironic.
I will say it hurt a bit to see our carefully wrapped bundles thrown onto the sidewalk and trampled into a mess of multi-colored dust and peanut butter taffy smears, but upon reflection, I can understand the hurt and outrage our candy bags generated. Neighbors, I can’t turn back time. All I can do is apologize and promise to do better next year.
Amelia Johnson, 17 Kirby Lane
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Dear Neighborhood Parents,
I want to humbly apologize to those of you whose kids stopped by our house for trick or treating this year. I’m sure you can understand why we chose not to give candy. The twins have worked so hard to lose weight, and we didn’t want to undermine their efforts. In retrospect, we should have offered pencils or stickers, but I thought it would be fun to do something different. I miscalculated, and I’m sorry. I should not have handed out a live crawfish to each child. The glass bowls were also a poor choice, but I didn’t want the parents to have to worry about finding a suitable habitat once the little creatures made it home. I see now that this was a mistake. I also want to apologize about the leakage–I really thought the plastic wrap and rubber band formed a watertight seal. Please rest assured, this will not happen again.
Francis Hammerstein, 801 Jessup Court
* * *
As I sit here alone on what was to have been our six-month anniversary of dating, I am beyond bummed that we are spending it apart. Megan is going to be pissed that we blew off her Halloween party, but after what happened, I didn’t see how I could go through with it. After six months, it was time to take stock of our relationship. I didn’t ask you to marry me. I didn’t even ask you to move in with me. All I asked was: If we were driving down a deserted country road and Stairway to Heaven came on the radio, would you pull the car off to the side and get out and dance with me? Couldn’t you have just said “Yes, Sarah. Yes, I would dance to Stairway to Heaven with you”? Especially after I explained how that actually happened to me when I was at summer camp and how it was one of the happiest moments of my life? I was considering spending the rest of my life with you, but what you’re telling me is I have to live the rest of my life without the possibility of dancing on the side of the road to Stairway? Couldn’t you have just said “Yes”, even if you didn’t mean it, knowing it probably wouldn’t happen anyway, because moments like that don’t come around every day?
Anyway, sorry I fucked up your night.
* * *
I’m sorry you weren’t able to wear your Halloween costumes of choice this year to the school parade. Yes, I knew for months that you, Rachel, wanted to be Picachu and that you, Sam, wanted to go as the Last Airbender. And yes, I should have just bought the costumes like I normally do. But, as a working mom, it bothered me that you have never had a homemade costume. I absolutely intended to have your costumes ready on time. I spent a whole day at the craft store back in September, picking out the patterns and buying the materials. But I had no idea how hard that shit would be to put together. Sam, I am so sorry that you had to tape leaves to your clothes and go as a tree. And Rachel, you are right: telling you to hold an empty picture frame in front of your face and announcing that you were a “self-portrait” was too abstract for the other third graders. Next year, I promise, you can have store bought costumes. You can each have two.
Dear Dr. Bernard,
I am very sorry for trick or treating at your house on Halloween. It was inappropriate, and I understand now that I crossed a line. But as you of all people know, boundaries do not come easily to me. And you were right. I didn’t just happen to be in your neighborhood on Halloween. And yes, I did rifle through your desk when you were called away during our last appointment and stole a piece of mail addressed to your home.
In my defense, I thought you would get a hoot out of seeing me dressed up as a car accident victim. I thought that the fake blood and the crutches were funny, but I can see how the bruises were a bit much. I hope your wife and children are not still upset. I honestly thought you would be the one to answer the door.
I would be happy to discuss this further at my next appointment. You have helped me so much during the last two and a half years, and I would never do anything to jeopardize our relationship.
* * *
Audrey Berns is at work on either a novella or a novel, depending on how wide she makes her page margins. You can read more of her work at manythingsfairlywell.com and follow her at on Twitter as @audberns.
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All Halloween posts from this series can be found here.
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