At the Farmer's Market this foggy morning, my neighbor Syd told me, I love Halloween. It's all about us, you know, it's all about the grown ups. You don't get Halloween until you're over thirty. I circle it on my calendar, I make a point of being home before sundown. It's about the kids being themselves, before the parents make them say 'thank you' a hundred and forty seven times, so that they don't even know what they're getting. I saw W melting into my window. He wanted the candy. [But Syd did not give candy: she gave peanuts in the shell, itself a truant gesture in this age of allergies, and anaphlatic shock, junior high school kids kising and one of them has eaten a PBJ for lunch and the other one goes into shock and dies. Syd gave peanuts, great handfuls of them, and stickers which W put on immediately and H tucked neatly into her orange felt bag.]
It didn't used to be like that, Syd said. I mean, I hate to sound like that, like the good ol' days, but it wasn't. When I was H's age--what is she?
Six and half.
. . .six and a half, we all would ride our bikes to the grocery store, which is now where the post office is on White Oak. And the thing is, you always knew who was in trouble, because we were all out on the street. Not happening behind closed doors. Now it's kids behind screens in their houses. Halloween is when they get out from behind their screens.
This is what Syd said to me as I fingered shiny pimento peppers in the luminous gray light.