Brandon, Caleb, and I were having a debate the other day about which is better: being a kid or being an adult. All three of us tend toward thinking adulthood is a way better deal. You can eat what you want, stay up as late as you want. You have money, and not just an accumulation of the $.75 you get from cleaning the windows. You can vote, drive, have whatever sort of pet you’d like. You do not have homework.
“But being a kid is good, too,” I reassured Caleb.
“How?” he asked.
I made up some marlarkey (because for real, adulthood rulez!), but I was thinking lately that Halloween is way better in childhood, sparkly and promising, the kind of season when terror is delicious and imminent. These days, to me, Halloween is blunted, dull.
My moments of horror this Halloween season have included:
1. The dogs got a squirrel. (Dead bodies!)
2. The pumpkin Halloween decorations on the door looked like, in the darkness before bedtime, the silhouettes of two small heads peering into our house. (Ghosts!)
3. A new CD to which I was listening alone while making salads featured a noise that sounded like a door creaking open—but nobody was there! (Poltergeists!)
4. I got sucked into America’s Most Smartest Model on VH-1 (I’m coming in there, Carol Ann!)
“Why aren’t you afraid of anything?” Caleb asked me that night.
Oh, ho, ho, I thought. War and famine, disease and accidents, the fires in L.A., the erosion of rights, panic, boredom, the knowledge that he will inevitably understand that I’m not at all fearless. These are the fears I best keep under wraps.
I was brushing my teeth, and he was waiting for an answer, so I thought of a recent time when I was afraid. A box was delievered to the house. It didn’t have a return address, and as I started opening it, I felt the cool metal of whatever object was inside. I became convinced that it was a gun and that when I removed the wrapping, it would go off. I picked that motherfucker up and took it to the garage. I called Brandon and my neighbor to inform them of this Code Red situation. It turned out, it was some camera equipment Brandon had ordered.
“I don’t like packages without return labels,” I told Caleb.
“Because,” I said. “It might not be a good surprise.”
“It could be poop,” he suggested.
“Yes,” I said. “It could be poop.”
That really would be scary, though, wouldn’t it?