I love our neighbor Jennifer. When I complained to her the other day that we never get any trick-or-treaters, she promised to come by with her daughter. I take all commitments very seriously, so I went into work early, left early and sat in traffic thinking, There are children who need me!
I got home and threw our light-up Snoopy “Happy Halloween” thing in the window just in time to see Jennifer and Lucia coming up the sidewalk (or, more likely, they came over when they saw our light was on). Lucia was a baby carrot, although she’d gotten fussy when Jennifer tried to put her green frondy hat on, so basically she was wearing a big orange bib.
“It’s okay,” I assured her. “Some carrots don’t have tops.” But I don’t think Lucia, who is two, was all that self-conscious about it.
“Kitty,” she said.
“Do you think we could see your cats?” Jennifer asked.
I invited them in, the cats having been sequestered for the night to protect them from possible tricksters. Seriously, my aunt had this adorable black kitten named Spider who was killed in a truly horror movie-worthy way one Halloween. No way am I letting ours (who look like a witch’s cat, an increasingly round pumpkin and, well, a cat with cancer, respectively) out into the wilds of Highland Park on Halloween night.
T-Mec did her happy three-legged bunny hop over to Jennifer and Lucia, whom I think she’s missed as she’s become more housebound. Lucia petted her very, very gently.
I don’t know Jennifer very well—I actually just found out Lucia’s name like a week ago—but she’s one of those people I want to instantly spill my life story to. She just has such a warm vibe. It must be hard to be one of those people, always getting sidelined by people’s life stories. I wanted to tell her that I love her kids (even when they’re screaming, as one was the other day, “Daddy, I will never love your again!”) and the fact that she worries about being “that lady” when calling the police about the abandoned house around the corner. I wanted to tell her that C.C. and I are working on having kids of our own and that even though hers might be, like, ten when that finally happens, I want them to have play dates.
“Alright,” she said to Lucia. “Let’s go home and you can eat your candy.”
Lucia explained her priorities: “I want kitty.”
“You can come by anytime,” I said, and I meant it.
“I want kitty,” Lucia said.
We also got a baby monkey and a princess and a superhero. Toward the end of the night the teenage kids from up the street came by.
“Where’s your cat Fernando?” they asked. “And what’s the other one’s name? Missouri?”
We figured it made sense that Ferdinand would kick it with the older kids. For the rest of the night we called Ferd and Temecula Fernando and Missouri. We didn’t want OC to feel left out of the nickname biz, so we decided that City is to State as County is to Continent. We called him Australia and Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, and he and I both pretended that we weren’t too shy to make friends with the neighbors.