Sunday, November 21, 2004


Tonight Ross gave me a piece of apricot flavored gum. It reminded me of something I remembered on Halloween night.

Our original plan for Halloween was to attend the town’s parade, and then join up with friends at their house. Ross was then going to go trick or treating with them up and down their street, which is long, lots of houses with lots of kids. Halloween is still a relatively new experience for us. It is not something we grew up with in our South African childhood experience and in England it was not as big a deal as it is here. As our house is on a Cul de Sac, many monsters didn’t visit us at our door for our first two Halloween nights so this year, we were going to go out and find them.

Due to a series of boring events, we did not attend the parade and Ross went with Daniel to our friends. About half an hour later, he called me and said that I really should come and see what was going on. He said the place was swarming with people dressed up, and I really shouldn’t miss it. As I was already in pajama pants and slippers, I told him I would come but I was not getting out the car. This was ok as they were sitting on the front porch anyway.

Marti and I headed off and Daniel was right. There was an amazing vibe on the street. There were bats flying around some front doors; smoke billowing out of some windows, spider webs everywhere, and lots of little monsters, princesses, etc.

My shadow ninja soon came up the road and by the time he made his way over to the car, he was in tears about having lost his sword along the way. Daniel asked him where he last remembered having it, took his flashlight out the car, and they headed off to where the shadow ninja recalled last having the weapon. Mission accomplished, and shadow ninja was once again smiling on their return.

Then, that strange phenomenon that happens with kids took place. In an instant, without me even being able to see where it came from, Daniel and the shadow ninja were in a serious power struggle on the sidewalk. The ninja was holding the firefighter to his promise of the parade, and the firefighter had clearly changed his mind. I could NOT get out the car to try diffusing the eruption, because, well, I was in my pajama pants and slippers.

As much as our friends and their friends and all our departed ancestors were probably enjoying the loud Halloween Extravaganza, “FIREFIGHTING NINJA BATTLES”, it had to be brought to a screaming halt. I shouted louder than the pair of them for the ninja to get into the car. In fairness to the ninja, he is really not a ninja who usually throws tantrums. The ninja wanted to do the parade, he had been told he would, and he was not letting us off the hook.

Ninja’s Mom, Nanny and the ninja himself were soon headed for the parade. Even I was impressed with the speed at which I actually did diffuse the situation! (And you thought I had no firefighting skills of my own – hahaha). Our timing was perfect as we approached the corner where the parade was passing. We were second in line to the car closing off the road. In true ninja style, the ninja all but leapt out the moving car and I all but kicked Marti out to go with him. I threw my cell phone at her, told her where I would meet them and sat to watch the really impressive parade pass by. Every vehicle from the firehouse passed by with all bells and whistles blaring; it was colorful, bright and noisy. There was a throng of costumed kids and adults making their way up the street to the small fair the local church had organized.

As they mingled into the crowd, I realized that by giving her my cell phone, I had no way of calling her! As soon as access was allowed, I zoomed up the road and around the corner back to the friends’ house where Daniel was still on the porch. He came to the car and I asked for his cell phone explaining I needed to be able to stay in contact with Marti and Ross in the crowd. This was one of those 30 second husband/wife exchanges that has both partners questioning what is was that initially attracted you to each other. As Daniel handed me the phone he asked me what he should do and I told him that right there and then I didn’t think I cared what he did ever again, in his whole entire life. Off I sped doing full justice to the Mazda ‘zoom zoom’ campaign.

I called Marti and established where she and Ross were. I pulled into the bank over the road from the church and parked facing where the rides were. I had a clear view of the proceedings and took the time to exhale, lower my shoulders from my ear lobes, and made feeble attempts to think kind and loving thoughts about my husband.

As if sent by the powers that be, in that instant, Daniel went zooming by the bank, obviously headed for home. The phone then rang and it was another friend of ours who had passed Daniel on the road. He of course expected Daniel to answer his cell phone. We chatted in the friendly and festive spirit of the occasion and if I say so myself, I put on a great show. There is no way the caller could ever have known that I was in the midst of a domestic melt down. I put one more call through to Marti and confirmed that she could see where I was parked. We agreed that she and Ross would stay for another half hour and then make their way back to the car.

Finally, the cell phone stopped ringing, I turned the music off, leaned the back of my seat further back and exhaled the longest sigh. I felt my toes unclench and my body stopped feeling like I was bracing it to jump off the George Washington Bridge.

This is the part where the apricot tasting gum comes in … As I sat there in the silence, watching the silent movie of Halloween in a small American town take place over the road from me, I remembered an event from my childhood in the most amazing detail. I am talking about something that happened around 35 or 36 years ago. Getting new clothes was a real treat at that age. The concept of new clothes for each season did not exist as it does for our kids today, and every new item of clothing was a major event. One such event was a pair of apricot colored bell-bottoms with turn-ups. They were the height of fashion, especially the zipper that was chunky and had a loop by which to pull it open or closed. These pants were hot and I loved them. As on most Sunday’s, we went to my Uncle and Aunt and in true South African summer style, we spent the day in the swimming pool, my uncle would BBQ, we leapt around on the trampoline, and it was quite simply an over indulgence of fun and sun.

I would invariably come home with a sunburn that was agonizing, and in the worst-case scenario, as was this particular night, I would throw up in the car from motion sickness. As I staggered into the bathroom to get undressed and into the bath, I was both horrified and heart broken when I noticed that I had thrown up INTO THE TURN UPS OF MY WONDERFUL NEW PANTS. My mother spent the longest time consoling me and assuring me the pants would come up as good as new once they were washed.

As I sat in my car, I felt like I needed someone to stroke my head and tell me that this evening was going to work out all right and that everything would come out clean in the wash and as good as new.

As Ross and Marti got in the car, I really wanted to get home as quickly as possible so that Ross, Daniel and I could all make friends. We set out with the best of intentions, just as I had those 36 years ago, and it felt like I was going home with sick in my turn ups!

We walked into the house and having agreed on a plan of action in the car, Ross and I went straight to Daniel and with nothing more than a group hug, we all kissed and made up and assured each other it was all, all right!