As I write this, Jimmy is Skyping Françoise about what might be his last trick or treat session in costume. The odd thing, the troubling thing, the damning thing about that is not that all of us had a pleasant, uneventful night after a tidy, quiet search for costume ideas. The odd, troubling, damning thing is the realization that this is actually how it's supposed to go. God damn it! It took me until the middle of the decade to realize that the 'fright' in the festival isn't supposed to be the preparation. Thanks to Mom's irritating need to be (as Michael so 'whimsically' put it) "the corpse at every funeral and the bride at every wedding" and her tendency to be a close-minded, fearful member of what Aunt Georgia calls "the plastic flower children", most of the Halloweens of my youth got turned into a nightmare of banality via the magic of moral panic.
As I hold a picture of my four year old self in a clown costume in hand, I think back to one year in which Mom's terror of the world really got in the way of things. It all started about, oh, a week-and-a-half before Halloween when Mike and his friends had all agreed that the group of us should go as what dumb, sheltered grade school kids think punk rockers look like. Bad freaking idea!! Mike should have known better than to propose something THAT cool to Mom. Nothing on this Earth ever convinced her that despite what she and that fat, dozy old hen who chopped her child's fingers off because she thought that she had to might think, punk rockers weren't Satan-worshiping, anarchy-loving, mother-murder-encouraging, suicide-advocating nihilists filled with hate and despair who wanted to fill the world with ugliness because of the Bomb. You would have had a better chance of convincing her that we didn't hate her and reject the love from her great big heart just because we wanted to decide what we wanted to wear than you would that some shmuck in a mohawk is just a huckster fishing where the trout are.
This need to make sure that a world that didn't honestly care that YES, SHE, ELLY PATTERSON CARED ENOUGH TO SAVE HER BABIES BY TAKING THE CHOICE AWAY FROM THEM SO GIVE HER THE PRAISE SHE CRAVED LIKE THE PATHETIC JUNKIE SHE WAS would have been bad enough had it only meant that Mike and I ended up being guilted into wearing ugly, ill-fitting costumes that were like wearing our own personal saunas. It also meant two other stupid things. The first stupid thing that it meant that a vague plan that Mike, Gordon, Lawrence and someone I believe to have been named Darryl had to have a Halloween party somewhere came to nothing. You see, the other mothers either had to put in a shift or volunteer at the soup kitchen or something and since having the party at our home would have gotten in the way of doing stuff she didn't need to so she could impress people who could not have cared less, the party train got derailed by stupidity. So did my plans to hang out with the big kids. Heh. For all her talk of my slowing them down, it turned out that the only person who couldn't keep up was the panicky idiot screaming about fake, implausible catastrophes.
I hate Mother for that sort of thing. While I do like the idea of having a quiet, pleasant Halloween with Jimmy, Warren and our friends, remembering all the wonderful times Mom saved us from having taints that happiness with an untoward rage. Mike's vague speculation as to how her voice will some day be silent cannot come soon enough.