WOSTER: It’s Halloween: Time to get mentally toughAcross the street, we had a first-year governor, and every citizen in the greater central South Dakota region brought kids to the mansion, and across to the Woster place.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
Mother Nature can be so cruel.
Not that long ago, we had winds that howled like our old Labrador when he picked up a snoutful of porcupine quills. Not that long ago, we had a few nights of terribly unseasonably chilly weather.
So, what’s the forecast for Halloween? Well, out here where I live, The Weather Channel says the daytime high is supposed to be 66 degrees and the evening low might be high 30s. The wind is forecast at the moment at about 18 mph, so that’s promising. The temperature, though, offers no relief at all.
Relief from what, you ask? Why, from the hordes of little ghosts and goblins who will be tramping up the steps at the green house on the corner, hitting the old man up for a treat or two before heading off across Washington Street to the Daugaard residence to do some comparison shopping on the trick-and-treat offerings in the neighborhood.
The forecast is just too mild to keep many of them home, and that means I must prepare for a long evening of being a jovial, grandfatherly sort of figure, just the sort of person you’d expect to sit out on the curved porch and smile at the eyes behind the masks and make-up.
I’m no good at Halloween. Everybody knows that. I don’t know how to make small talk, especially with, you know, other human beings, of any age, but especially youngsters.
Nancy? You ought to hang around with her on Halloween. First, she knows 90 percent of the parents who are guiding their sons and daughters along the sidewalks. Second, she knows how to talk with kids of any age. Maybe she developed that knack through her years as a community health nurse. She saw a lot of kids in those days, and when you’re about to stick a needle in a child’s arm during a flu-shot clinic, you probably figure out ways to talk their language.
Or maybe it’s that she always talked to our three kids, both when they were growing up and living with us and now that they’re on their own and many of the conversations are by telephone. I can say “nice weather,” or “think the Bears are for real?” or “want to go to Denver and buy some shoes?” but I’m not a conversationalist.
(I’d be a good letter writer with the kids, but nobody writes letters these days, and it might scare the kids to death if they actually opened the mailbox and found an envelope from me to them. I’m a century too late, I guess — a manual Underwood typewriter guy in a smart phone world)
So, yeah, Nancy can talk to kids, and she talks to every one of them that comes to our door on Halloween. Problem is she won’t be here on Halloween this year. For the second year in a row, she wangled a baby-sitting gig with the granddaughter, leaving me to protect the property from soaped windows and over-turned outhouses.
When she did that last year, it was a disaster. Nicest evening in decades. The sidewalks were jam-packed with kids, and I was left with something like 450 pieces of candy. Across the street, we had a first-year governor, and every citizen in the greater central South Dakota region brought kids to the mansion, and across to the Woster place. I was out of goodies not long after 7:30 that evening, and the streets were still packed.
Well, when Nancy said she was leaving again, she also said she had stocked up on plenty of candy. When I asked how much, she said I could go to the basement (the granddaughters call it NancyMart) and count.
I did. I counted 450 pieces and stormed up the stairs, shouting that it wasn’t nearly enough.
I told that story to a co-worker, who asked if it had occurred to me to go to the store and buy another 100 pieces of candy.
“No, it occurred to me to go buy 200 more,” I said.
So, I’m ready. I just need another few days to get mentally tough. Oh, wait, it’s tonight, isn’t it?