By Louise Ure
The longer the war goes on, the more baby George Washingtons I see and the fewer Power Rangers. More infant Ben Franklins. More tiny Paul Reveres. I think that’s a good thing, searching our own history for superheroes.
Halloween has always been a big deal here on Lake Street. In a landscape of calf-aching hills, the street is flat. In a neighborhood shrouded by fog, it’s well lit. In a city where one-car garages rent for $1000 a month, these people own whole houses.
Now, don’t go thinking I’m landed gentry. I bought my place long before housing prices in San Francisco got as high as the cost of a good size island in the rest of the world.
We had over a thousand trick-or-treaters last year. They bus ‘em in.
Some, like the young Russian couples in the neighborhood, are still new to the custom. “Our first Halloween!” the parents say, voices still thick with the muddied sound of Leningrad. The parents do most of the trick-or-treating; the kids sit bug-eyed in their strollers, victims of fatigue, sugar and the weight of Washington’s powdered wig.
Others know the drill all too well. The parents laze in their idling Lexus at the curb and release the children at each lit doorway, all of them too lazy to even walk from door to door. These are the little girls in the hooker costumes. The boys with all too real machetes stained with food coloring.
We learned long ago to set up a candy station on the front porch. No way I’m going up and down two flights of stairs four hundred times a night.
It’s become a neighborhood affair now, with a dozen houses on our short block hosting garage parties and handing out wine or hot cider to the adults. The children march three abreast down the sidewalk, as far as the eye can see.
We light lavender and sage smudge sticks to drive away demons, then offer sweets to draw them in.
David, from next door, is in charge of jack o’lanterns, and purposely seeks out the most misshapen gourds he can find. He wears a Freddy mask that looks like his face has melted. Kids approach him with caution.
Around the corner, the pickings are better than our Cost Co mini candy bars. Robin Williams lives a couple of blocks away and used to come to the door and do a short skit when kids rang the bell. Now his bodyguards answer the door and hand out the treats. His signature gift is a glowstick necklace, and watching the kids leave his house is like seeing a swarm of fireflies come into sight.
One year he got PC on us, and handed out toothbrushes as treats. You could hear the banshee wails from a block away. I thought they’d string him up with his own dental floss.
Sharon Stone used to live down the street, too. She gave away Godiva chocolates. The one Halloween she couldn’t be home, she left a wheelbarrow of them in front of the gate. They didn’t last long.
I’m never au courant with the costumes. Years ago, when a young Harry Potter wanted me to guess his disguise, I asked if he was an MBA. Every super hero I greet meets me with a disdainful, “No! I’m a Something-You’ve-Never-Heard-Of Man’!”
The six-foot phallus was last year’s biggest surprise. The bloody dentist, with pliers in his hand and a pile of red-stained teeth on a tray, was the scariest. Thank God there are still plenty of Bumble Bees and Fairy Princesses.
I understand this year there’s going to be a run on Ricky Bobby costumes from Talladega Nights. Oh my.
Tell me fellow revelers, how do you spend your Halloweens? Do you have a favorite costume in your past, or a favorite treat? I know you have a favorite trick someplace back there.