GateHouse — As is generally the case with most critical holidays, the important negotiations regarding my Halloween took place in a Target — specifically, in the throughway between the G.I. Joe toy aisle and, if I am not mistaken, Dish Soap, categories that pretty well illustrate my own journey through life thus far, come to think of it.
Over the previous weeks, the Little Man had whittled his list of costume ideas from approximately 3 million down to two: Spider-Man, which had been his costume for the previous two years (one that allowed him to save a great many neighborhood children from harm, despite bumping into all manner of wagons and mailboxes due to an unfortunate incompatibility between mask size and his face), and Train Engineer, which, as anyone who knows the Little Man will attest, is a costume of crucial importance, because the Little Man has very literally not discussed anything other than trains since April 2006.
Being unprepared to handle a decision of such monumental import, in an aisle smelling so richly of Fresh Pine, no less, the Little Man did what any of us would have done in that situation: hand over the entire shebang up to Eeny Meeny Miney Mo, which we both agreed was the most equitable way to handle the situation. Sadly, the game proved a total farce: Mo landed on Spider-Man, and the Little Man made a lightning-quick and totally predictable last-minute adjustment of his Pointing Finger, and thus, we were a Train Engineer this year for Halloween.
Train Engineer is a good costume. It allows for the purchase of overalls, it gives the Little Man context to engage in one of his favorite activities — regaling complete and utter strangers with facts and figures regarding trains that existed primarily either in the early 1900s or Japan — and it’s unusual enough that I think it netted him a few extra packets of SweetTarts at a house or three, which, I believe, was part of the Little Man’s plan, because when it comes to candy absorption, he is nothing short of a tiny evil genius, albeit one who still needs someone to tie his evil-genius Train Engineer bandanna. I could instruct my son to put his cup in the sink 3,000 times in a row with a megaphone in one hand and a constantly firing series of screaming Roman candles in the other, and the combined effect would barely cause him to glance up momentarily from his Lucky Charms. Earlier today, I snuck a Snickers from his trick-or-treat bag, and from his reaction, you would have guessed I’d just squandered his college fund on a freakshow plot to get on a reality-TV show using a shiny balloon.
Related, sort of
There is one other thing I learned from Halloween this year, which I am passing on to you readers in the warmer climes: There may be a gourd-like squash that thrives throughout a week of 80-degree sun, but it is ABSOLUTELY not the pumpkin, because in unseasonably warm temperatures it takes surprisingly little time for your mighty, cleverly carved up jack-o’-lantern to comprehensively disintegrate into a barely recognizable chunk of formerly orange gloop, one that you will inevitably be mopping and/or scraping off of your porch with a shovel and a hose at 8 in the morning because you can’t get in the front door through the bustling cloud of gloop-eating bugs and because your young son has become terrified of looking upon his own pumpkin (“Daddy, I don’t want to see it,” he’d say, and the bury his head into my shoulder, understandably mortified at looking on at a gloppy, deformed, partially liquefied remains of a proud jack-o’-lantern dripping into the bushes before him). Next year, if this issue comes up again, I will have the entire viscous mess cleaned up by Spider-Man.