Hallowe’en means two things in Cabbagetown: one, a massive flood of kids. Unbelievable as it seems, each house gets 800 or 900 trick or treaters. Once the rush begins, after 5.45, it doesn’t abate until 8.30 or 9; useless to go inside, best just to stand on the porch and keep doling it out. The experience is marvellous, because many of the visitors are small new Canadians, done up in some kind of costume, open-mouthed at receiving candy from strangers.
We get such crowds because there are so many kids in Regent Park and St. Jamestown, and because the houses are packed tightly together here and many in the neighbourhood go all out with screaming and moaning sound effects, witches hanging from trees, giant spiders … And also, I gather, because kids have heard about all this and come here from their own neighbourhoods because it’s better here.
Well, as I’ve said before, I did my bit for 20 years, while my kids were home, and now I’m done. At 5.45, this Hallowe’en grinch turns out the lights and hides at the back with a book, until the storm passes. Then, around 9, all on this block gather at Jean-Marc and Richard’s for drinks and pizza. Most come in costume. I have a pink pig hat, so I’m stuffing a pillow under my t-shirt and going as Mayor Ford. On the other side of town, incidentally, my grandson apparently is dressed as the child Pugsley from the Addams Family. I don’t quite know what that means, but I’m sure it’s really cute.
The other thing that Hallowe’en means around here is that my favourite second-hand store Doubletake is crowded with … amateurs. All those people in there joking around as they look for costumes, getting in the way of those of us who are really shopping. Out go the bride’s dresses and the goofy dated dresses, to be ripped up and splattered with blood. Tomorrow, all those once-a-year shoppers will be gone, and only us serious folk, hunting daily for the deal of the century, will be picking through the remnants of other people’s lives.
Speaking of other people’s lives … spent an hour today tracking down longterm nursing care facilities in Ottawa and calling them. Mum is vaguer and weaker all the time, and yet still has a ferocious will. My brother and I are the parents now, but none of us wants to admit it, especially Mum. How to preserve her dignity and autonomy while making decisions for her safety and our peace of mind, whether she approves or not? Difficult and sad.