Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween in the Hood

Well, the Tattler returns after a long hiatus. (I'll write another post another time to fill you in on life since August.)

Today I got home later than I had hoped. I was on the Ashland bus around 6 p.m. and rode past the Haunted Horde of children, from tots to teens, invading the stores along Ashland and 47th. The Walgreens parking lot on the corner had the fewest cars I've ever seen, as a score of children and some adults pressed in to get goodies. "Are you buying something?" a security guard asked a boy. "Candy?"

"No. My mom sent me to get..." I kept going. In the decimated candy aisle, Papa was trying to pacify little gorilla-costumed Cesar, who was wailing and squirming in his stroller. "Ay, Cesar, calmate..." I squeezed past them and past Mama, who was picking over the remnants. Fortunately they had a big bag of trial size Hershey's bars, some old-school Reese's peanut butter cups, Twix and 100 Grands. (I'm old enough to remember when they were $100,000 Bars, but don't tell Cesarito, OK?)

So I get home and it's too late for the crowd. One mom and her spiderwomanish clad toddler are coming down the street as I'm checking the mail. "Do you have any candy?" Mom asks politely.

"I'm just getting set up. Can you come back in five minutes?"


It was more like 50, but she and her little one return. I did get to see Junior and his family--they were going somewhere and not in costume, but I gave the boys some candy anyway. Joey came by in camo--he hid alongside the door and said "boo!" when I came out. It was way cuter than scary.

My favorite girls from down the block stopped by with their mom and big sister. "You missed!" the younger one told me, when I dropped a Hershey's in her bag. She had a paper bag inside the plastic one. I dropped in three more before I got it right. We were laughing. She's gonna be a gordita (little fatty, an endearment among Mexicans) if she keeps up that trick to get more candy!

Then all was quiet, but the two guys I've seen sitting out front of the house next door strolled by. One had his cell phone to his ear. They have the distinction of being the first dealers I've ever actually seen drugs on. They appeared to be eyeing their favorite perch. My neighbor is turning the fence out front into a wall, but the job is less than a quarter done, so the "wall" makes a nice seat for passers-by.

I saw them eyeing the wall, and I looked at them very carefully. They saw me. We all said 'hey, how you doing?'

At first, nobody said anything else. Then, the guy without the phone said, "Trick or treat?" kind of jokingly, kind of in a "why not?" spirit.

I caught the spirit of why not, and said, "Sure."

"Do you have Reese's?" he asked, walking over.
"Why, yes I do!"

He brightened up and put some extra spring in his step. His buddy liked Reese's, too.
I gave each of them a Reese's peanut butter cup. They thanked me.

"Happy Halloween," they said, and kept going down the block.

A bit later the cry of Yup-yup could be heard on the corner. I am so tired of that guy I just called 911 right away. "He's a nuisance," I told them. He left before the squad car arrived.

When the cop car drove the wrong way down the street, flashing that annoying small spotlight, I was standing in my doorway, looking for trick-or-treaters, wearing my bike helmet and orange vest (I guess I thought I would dress up as a bike messenger while handing out the goodies.)

"Thanks for coming by," I said to the cop. (Since all the criminal element was long gone I figured I might as well out myself."

"Did you call?" the cop inquired, on the same principle.

"Yeah. The guy left a few minutes ago. But thanks for coming anyway."

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