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How do I spend my Halloween? With Autumn (name changed to protect the guilty), my good friend and all-but-adopted little sister. She is married and an RN, but she likes to joke about being “perpetually 11.” Autumn is what happens when a tomboy stays a tomboy without crazy parents or society interfering. She likes fireworks, amateur bartending (I always get a gin and tonic when there), heavy metal, and talking about politics. Lest you think anything untoward is going on, she is a conservative Catholic married to a conservative Catholic convert with an ample firearms collection. (We were in College Republicans together.) Autumn is affectionate with all her friends, which is awesome, and also loves to dress up for Halloween.
Visiting Autumn’s old place for Halloween is an experience in and of itself. Her parents have a house that is already partway to haunted, and the decorations make the ancient bungalow look positively spooky. Her Mom is a blast and an awesome host, and Autumn is an incredible extrovert and organizer, so the party is always fun, with all kinds of guests. Autumn’s Dad, well, he makes Archie Bunker look like a woke hipster. Getting into politics with him can be either amusing or result in a barrage of invective. The guests are from all over the social/political spectrum – Autumn has maxed-out charisma – so the party would be fun regardless of what we did.
The real fun is in the game of scaring the children. Kids of a certain age enjoy a good scare and show, so we do a few haunted house tricks, have a guy in a mask pretending to be part of the scenery, etc. It’s all in good fun, and every year we have a different theme. I have been a yeti for several years, and a mad scientist for more. (They say to write what you know – it also goes for costumes.) It’s a recurring tradition, and kids come back year after year. Usually, after the kids stop coming, Autumn goes trick or treating herself.
Please remember, this is in a middle-class bungalow region in Chicago, not far from some housing projects. There’s still enough community spirit and trust for kids to go trick or treat, and we don’t have creepy weirdos show up. It’s still a treat, and not a trick.