Yep…That’s Me: A Halloween Late Bloomer!

This morning began later than usual, by at least an hour.  So in fact, those proverbial chickens were already up and well-past crowing to a new day.  As I put feet to the floor I was already aware that something wasn’t quite right. Every bone in my body ached and my head was pounding.  I made my way to the bathroom and stood before the mirror. Oh my.  What a fright, to be sure. My hair, crazy wild, looked like I had stuck my finger in an electrical socket. Then, on closer inspection, I note a bruise on the corner of my mouth.

Hmm? That’s strange. How on earth….?

Ah, yes!  The light bulb in my head is instantly on as I recall the events of last night.

AHEM….now folks, this is a G-rated site….just saying.

I’m talking about trick-o-treating with my nephew here.

My body is responding to a night in a neighborhood that really knows how to do Halloween.  Who knew that I had to make it to sixty before experiencing real Halloween fun?  Better late than never, eh?

So there I was meeting up with my sis and family well before the fun was set to begin.  Sis was busy putting the final touches on her nine-year-old’s costume.  This year he chose to be a mummy.  Sis had wrapped him from top to bottom in white gauze.  Ever the artist, she had also made up his face and spray-colored his hair jet black.  He looked fabulous.

“Where did you get all that gauze?” I asked pointing to a large bag with a few more rolls of gauze left in it.

“On Amazon,” she replied.  “In fact, this whole get-up cost me less than $15.”

Just about that time my nephew’s friend arrives with his mom in tow.  Patrick is dressed as the Halloween Scream character, complete with a mask that fills with an impressive amount of fake blood with the squeeze of a trigger.  We all exchange gushes over costumes and us moms catch up for a few minutes.

Halloween Scream

We are just about ready to step out with the boys for their trick-o-treating fun when my brother-in-law stops us.

“Wait.  You lovely ladies need a refill before heading out,” he says with a big smile.  We had been enjoying a glass of red wine with chips and salsa while the boys had hot-dogs (after all, trick-o-treating requires sustenance.)    It only takes him a moment to hand us each a paper cup filled with a generous pour of red wine.  “You are the greatest bro-in-law!” I all but sing.

The cold night air took us all by surprise.  Just an hour before I had been raking leaves in short sleeves!

We crisscrossed our way up and down neighborhood streets, scurrying to keep up with an excited mummy and his Scream sidekick as best we could without spilling our wine.  The normally quiet streets were alive and bustling with throngs of costumed kids and parents everywhere.  I was surprised that so many parents dressed up.  I was equally impressed by the spooky Halloween decorations; so many houses were seriously decorated to the hilt with ghostly eerie music to add to the theme of the night.

Incredulous, I wasBoy have I been under a rock for too long or what.  I hadn’t seen this much enthusiasm about Halloween in many years.

Following the boys, we made our way up the sidewalk of one particularly interesting house.  Among other spooky things planted in the yard, there was a gigantic inflatable character, Jack, from The Nightmare Before Christmas swaying to and fro on the second floor balcony just above the front door.

Nightmare “Jack”

Naturally we were mightily impressed.  The presumed owner of the house was dressed entirely in black sporting a well-made up, thoroughly frightening face. I’ll forever think of him as Mr. Scary-face.  He beckoned the trick-or-treaters (including us moms) to step forward closer to the door.  Literally six seconds later Jack swooped down from the balcony above us–coming up from behind–to give us all a fright, laugh.  Mr. Scary-face however had a partner-in-crime.  A positively ghoulish character jumped up from behind me, startling me so that I my left hand flew up–that would be the one carrying my cup of wine. In fact, the edge of the cup hit the side of my mouth just as I was attempting to take a sip.  In a flash I was covered in wine.

Side Note:  So, THAT folks is how I got this bruised lip!

“Hey, that was a good cup of wine that I just lost,” I cried.  Really, I was laughing hysterically, as was my sis.  I was drenched. But worse, my cup was um….empty!

Mr. Scary-face was genuinely concerned.  “Well, just wait a minute.  I have a good Malbec for a refill.”

“No, no.  I’m good,” I replied still laughing.  “Really. No worries.”

Mr. Scary-face insisted.

Before I knew it, my cup was full again.  What a terrific neighbor, don’t you think?!

As we made our way to the next destination–The Haunted trail–another neighbor commented on our cups in hand.

“Good for you gals. That’s the way to do this thing…trick-or-drink!” she said.

“I’m just learning about this at sixty,” came my bubbly reply. I raised my cup in a toasting gesture. “What can I say…I’m a late bloomer!”

A few hours later I made my way home.  Rocket-man had been holding down the fort.  He sees that I’m shivering from head to toe from running around the neighborhood in thin tights and a wine-stained top.

With a raised eye-brow and a twinkle in his eye, he asked: “Well. Well. Well did we have fun?”

“Oh, I had a blast,” I gushed and giggled as I recounted the night.  “The Haunted Trail was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!  I’ve never had this kind of Halloween fun, even when I had young kids.”  I couldn’t stop laughing as we went through the neighborhood haunted trail.  I got my feet seriously stomped on, I lost my wine….twice… I’m dog-tired, wet, and chilled to the bone…but OH what fun!”

Rocket-man is happy to see my school-girl happiness.  It’s a much-needed respite in a sea of otherwise.

So…It’s not surprising that I’ve got bruises from top to bottom today.  Ridiculously, I’m thinking about next Halloween.  Sis is concocting plans for our own Haunted Trail.

BLISS, at least a hundred-fold.

Plus…there is a ton of candy left.  Life is good.

Memories….

Solidarite

Solidarite

I adjusted the glittery mask to my face, blowing a wisp of a plume of bright red feathers out of my eyes as I did so.  “How do I look?”  I asked Rocket-man as he donned his own mask.

“Beautiful,” he said.  “Yeah, right.  That’s what you always say,” I quipped.  “Well, here goes!”

Without knocking I opened the front door and stepped inside.  I could see that there was a lively bunch of folks in the kitchen.  Music (though I cannot recall the genre) was in the air and the sounds of talk and laughter filled the entire downstairs area of my sister’s home.  Miss Nica-Roux, a bundle of beagle-mix puppy love, was the first to great me.  I silently petted her and, with a finger to my lips, whispered a “hush, no barking” to her as I tip-toed down the hall into the kitchen.  The Lord of the manor (my sister’s husband Greg) didn’t see me enter the kitchen as his back was to me.  He was at the bar mixing up a batch of drinks, talking animatedly to one of his guests as he was mixing.  Greg was dressed in pirate garb, his costume of choice for Halloween this year.  He certainly looked the part with a green bauble faux-piercing his right ear, a billowy white shirt with a bright red sash around his waist and a black pirate hat.   He was quite absorbed with his guest when I tapped on his right shoulder.  Still engaged in conversation with his guest he turned slightly towards me.

“Um, can I have a pomegranate martini please?” I asked as non-nonchalantly as possible.

“ACK!!!!!! What in the world….Oh my…..!”  He screamed in wide-eyed delight (Yes…I’m absolutely positive it was delight).  His eyes literally resembled 9-inch pie plates.  I kid not!

“CC! What a surprise!  Your sis did not tell me you were coming!”

“She didn’t know either,” I laughed with childish glee as we shared a long hug.

Just moments earlier Sis was equally thrown for a loop.  I surprised her just as she was walking down the street with Alexandre-the-Greatest and a group of his trick-o-treating friends.  We hugged and screamed together with happiness.  “In all my years I’ve never been surprised like this,” sis gushed with joy. I was pleased beyond belief that I had succeeded in thoroughly surprising my sis and her husband, arriving just in time for their Halloween party.  They weren’t expecting Rocket-man and I for another week.

So folks, that was a delightful memory forever etched in my heart.  I smile from ear-to-ear every time I think of it. I share this recent memory because of the times we live in.  Friday’s terrorist attack in The City of Light (so named because Paris was considered the center of education, learning, and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment) makes me realize more than ever our mortality.  Our hearts beat in this moment.  But in the blink of an eye–whether it be from a health affliction, a drunk driver, or God-forbid, at the hands of an insane terrorist/suicide bomber–our breath can be snuffed out and, in an instant, we are gone. We. Are. GoneMy heart has been heavy all weekend.  Our world seems to be going to hell though my historian bro-in-law reminds me that these are not the worst of times humanity has endured.  He speaks the truth though It sure seems to be the opposite to me.

During a recent walk with The Poodle, I resolved to snap out of my funk.  The universe obliged, for as I soon as I thought it another lovely memory came out of the recesses of my stressed-induced brain fog.  This one in beautiful Paris a year before my sweet nephew, Alexandre-the-Greatest, was born.

I was with my sis and her husband for a weekend in Paris and while there, we were lucky enough to meet up with my California friend Miss Lou who was in town celebrating a honeymoon with her love.  We all met for dinner (the restaurant escapes me now) and decided to dine outside under a perfectly starry nights’ sky.  We ordered Champagne (but of course!) and we clinked glasses to Lou and her husband.  We also thought we’d order an appetizer to go with that Champagne.  For inquiring minds, Sis and I don’t speak french but I took a semester in college and together with our Italian, we were confident we could figure out the menu.  Miss Lou had studied French too so between the three of us, we felt fairly confident that none of us would starve that night.

“How about shrimp?” Asked Greg, sis’ husband.

“Oh yes…a shrimp cocktail sounds perfect for a start,” I agreed.

Since there were five of us we wanted to order several shrimp cocktails to go around.  At this, the waiter’s eye-brows came together.  It was but a nano-second, like a blip on the radar screen, as it were. But, it was telling.  If only we hadn’t been so wrapped up in our starry-night bliss.  In retrospect, though it was an expression that was ever-so-subtle and gone before my brain could process any meaning, I should have given pause and asked for clarification.

When the waiter returned with our “appetizer” order of shrimp some ten minutes later we were all nearly stupefied at what he placed before us.  It was a very large platter piled high with some form of teeny-tiny crustacean.  It looked akin to that scene from ET…remember?  Who could forget the most famous mashed potato scene of all time with Richard Dreyfus piling his plate high with an enormous mountain of mashed potatoes?!

“Yikes!!! This looks nothing like shrimp cocktail.  Could it be a mistake?” I whispered to my sis in quiet horror.  Seriously….It looked like a pile of cockroaches, sautéed in a dye of festive red.

They look big in this photo, but trust me....they were teeny-tiny.

They look big in this photo, but trust me….they were teeny-tiny.

“Yum. Looks like crawfish,” Greg said.  The Cajun in him was quite happy. I do believe he was the first to dig in.

No wonder the waiter gave us a strange look!  We had ordered too many servings.  One small plate was meant for our table, not the mountain before us.  He probably thought we were typical gluttonous Americans.  Or stupid.  Or both.

I was not about to dig in.    But, not one for drama –meaning, that I certainly didn’t want to be the party-pooper in the bunch– I knew I’d have to hide my true feelings about this food nightmare and at least give the dish a try.  A long sip of Champagne gave me the courage to pick up one tiny “shrimp”.

“How on earth are we supposed to peel these?” I asked,  non too pleased about the pile of eyes and antennae on the platter.  I honestly tried to peel a couple but the task seemed impossible and I gave up quickly.  Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one. The lot of us barely made a dent in the pile.  Even Greg gave up.    There were so many tiny crustaceans on that plate that I daresay we’d all still be at that table today.

We all laughed and laughed over our food error, though, If memory serves me, Greg wasn’t quite as euphoric over the bill.  Still, it was a delightfully magical night in every way possible.  It’s a memory I’ll cherish until my lights go out.

As Paris mourns in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks last Friday, I mourn with her and her people.  Paris will always hold a special place in my heart because I spent time there–though short– with family and friends.  My soul was bathed in the joy of a new adventure, made complete with walks on both sides of the Seine, strange food, heavenly buttery croissants, and love and laughter.  I’ll forever cherish what Paris gave to me.

I’m keenly aware that I could die in the next moment, especially in a world that seems to be growing more insane by the minute.  But, I’m lucky enough to be here…now…in this moment, with a pocketful (and then some) of memories.  I’m ever thankful for the good memories AND even the not-so-good ones.  They all make up the fabric of my life.  All the insanity in the world cannot erase what lies forever etched in my heart and soul.

There is bliss in that.