Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Devil is in the Details

Trick. Or treat. Now I am from Italian descent and this age old threat of halloween has always seemed to me to be a way of training up young minds into the world of protection racketeering. Call me a cynic. Didn't stop me getting carried away with half a ton of orange slap and a run away khol pencil leaving my son looking like a demonic pumpkin, and, might I add, smiling from carved ear to ear. I must admit I was rather impressed with the result and after he had shed a few tears over a minor knee bang causing the make up to run slightly he took on the faded pathos of a charlie chaplinesque urchin. Worked a treat though, he managed to "treat" me a crate of "candy" and money - one lady stopped to give him a dollar because she had not come out armed with sugar, and three of the crew gave him a dollar each. If we carry on like this I'll be able to buy that fancy hair product I spied in the hairdressers the other day. I knew I was not going to be able to resist an appointment because when I went in to enquire a lady with an inspector clusoe trench coat, fedora and tie gave me all the info (and a hefty discount). Nuff said. I am a sucker for a trench coat and hat, obviously. The friendly Sarah chopped and painted, and after a free sensory experience (quick massage in of conditioner to you and me) I was ready for the world. Or, for lunch at least. This was a feast of the tall kind as my slightly vertically challenged family perched upon high stools in Betty's, a skinny half shop homecooking joint run by someone with an obsession with 50s pin ups and a fat appetite, in the appropriately named, Short North. They have one of those height things at the start of the strip to make sure you are the sort that has to always look slightly up at people. Ok now I'm being silly. Can you blame me? I am still high on sugar from our, sorry, Sammy's collection. Yes whilst Cory strutted the afternoon boards for the matinee crowd Sam and I popped up north once again and trawled all the shops with the orange balloon flying outside. A section of the street was pedestrianised and the shops who flew the balloon were treater friendly. You see, Halloween is a deeply organised affair here in Colombus. I wanted to do my usual annual witch dance atop a hill somewhere intoning and swaying by the light of the moon but Cory refused. His friendly dresser Scott, kindly printed out a list of the trick or treating schedule. Don't get me wrong, I am a sucker for lists and things of order but a schedule? All around us the air is hot with debate about the role of government in this country with focus on its role in healthcare. More than once I have heard an overall feeling of reluctance to hand over control to the government. Pastor Ken and I talked briefly about the country's general obsession with the term "freedom". I shot from the hip a little, under educated as I am in the intricacies of most things I spout about (doesn't seem to put me off I notice) and he listened graciously. These conversations rung in my ears as I skimmed the sheet of carefully planned halloween time slots. Maybe its my inner teenager but there was some part of me who wanted to run around the houses off schedule just to shake it up some. Green card pending, best not rock the boat I spose. They tell me its something about keeping the children off the streets when the adults go wild on Halloween night. Yup, come 9 pm ish some lucky couple won $1000 for dressing up as mount rushmore in the evening competition up Short North way (if I'd balance on their shoulders I could have done my witchy dance and earned us an extra $100 I bet). Call me a traditionalist, but there was a significant lack of witchy things going on on the streets when it came to dressing up (we sat behind the table of a 6 year old arabian princess and her something-out-of-a-science-fiction-type-baddy-dad. I am hoping he actually took off his enormous headpiece to eat.) We walked by Colonel Saunders (ok fair enough) a few bloody beings and so on, but the general feel here is more of a carnival than ode to all hallows eve. A time to play dress up. This, I understand. We had prepared for the afternoon with a trip to a couple of farms, generously accompanied by Pastor Ken's wife Helen. The first, the fantastically named Hickory Creek came with a characterful woman in the shop vehemently refusing to take us on a hayride because of the rain and likely damage to the tractor, namely getting stuck in the mud. I didn't dare suggest that that might be part of the fun, and great fodder for a new bloggist. Instead we browse the crate load of squashes, big, small, green, orange and all in between, tiny, huge, and the peanut variety (think pumpkin with monkey nuts stuck on it and you're almost there) and ultimately settled on buying some indian corn. It's dried kernels are alternately blue, jewely red as pomegranate, marbled yellow and generally beautiful and not in the least bit practical especially for a family on the road. The brusque farmer's wife had her sales method down pat. Either that or we are slightly too excited about the little things in true tourist form. After a run around Freemans Farm's pumpkin patch we invested in lunch, some loose tea and almost a bottle of health remedy. The ingredients read like a herbally list of "goodness" that would not be out of place in one of my godfather's concoctions. The ones that he brews over months in his cobwebby cantina and taste like the bottom of a wood on a rainy day but with loads more alcohol. Exhale eau de twig for hours. Perfect antidote to garlicy pasta I guess. No wonder then, after this full of a day the little chappy was not too keen on bed. He was still high from the paparazzi. We came across a minnie mouse on the trick or treat rounds who had organised a children's costume parade and Sam told me he wanted to be with the children. I obliged, and a medal later (2nd prize for most funny) we strutted back to the theatre. He told everyone he got a medal for trick or treating, I was quite proud of myself for completely by passing any possible conversations on competition (he has already shown a powerful need to win at all costs) and not so proud of myself when I watched him, somewhat uneasily, readily stop to pose for the paparazzi snapping at the time and later when Cory's collegaues took it in turn to whoop and wow at the boy (I suspect, with some sadness, he has learnt to do this from me) He, unflinchingly gave detailed accounts of our travels up the north way with great emphasis on the balloons and chocolate. He also reassured all that he was not in fact scarey but a bouncy pumpkin. I didn't tell him the orange face and pumpkin stalk cut from our little pumpkin on our hotel's window sill and worn as a hat on his spikey orange (painted) hair kind of gave it away. I would not rob a trick or treater's thunder like that. I am distracted for a moment because the television is telling us that "the devil is in the details!" I am quite sure Halloween was yesterday. Hold on, this is a propaganda commercial against the opening of casinos in the state. A cartoon devil just popped up all evil red smoke. Cory and I looked at each other bemused. Maybe its a thematic bit of PR for this time of year but it will always seem to me that there is no room for the devil in debates on policy. The moment passes. Yankees back on trying to conquer the world against the Phillies. Meanwhile the pumpkin outfit has been packed (my leopard coat and I went as a mobsters wife in case you're wondering) and a moment of reflection before we begin the move to Chicago tomorrow. The lure of the big city is upon us. The anticipation in the whole troupe is palpable. I am hoping our weekly in house poker game will start up (aka party in pjs) as well as daring myself into a few open mic nights, just to test my adrenaline pump is still working. Can't possibly go too long without doing something that absolutely terrifies me can I? I wonder if the devil is in those details? Word.

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