This year, my mother, who retired to Mexico fourteen years ago, finally got to witness the insanity of Halloween in my neighborhood.
While our community is not gated, it is relatively safe, a corner of a suburb equidistant from both Dallas and Fort Worth, with a high concentration of owner-occupied houses. When we first came to Texas in 2004, it was at this time of year, and one of the reasons we chose our neighborhood was the number of homes that sported Halloween decorations.
My own house, this year, featured a graveyard complete with rising zombies in front of the dining room window. In order to get to my front door, trick-or-treaters had to walk past spooky scarecrows, pass beneath a metal arch, wrapped in orange fairy-lights and sporting a “welcome” sign with dangling spiders, and then confront a cackling animatronic witch.
Trick-or-treat typically begins around six at night with the littlest, most local children, and increases in intensity for two hours, peaking around 7:45, then gradually tapering off, until the last few stragglers arrive around 8:30.
This year, we handed out a thousand pieces of candy, though we do have a rating system, so some kids – like the group of girls who sang “We wish you a happy Halloween…now give us candy” – got three pieces, while others – the babies who were in strollers — received only one – but even with that, we probably served between six and seven hundred children.
Sometime between the early rush and the peak mob scene, however, something special happened: a guy (who looked a little bit like a younger version of Joss Whedon, actually) wearing a Trust Women t-shirt and holding pamphlets approached the door.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m not actually trick-or-treating. I’m with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. I’m here to remind you that even though early voting ended tonight, Election Day is Tuesday, and the women of Texas need your help.”
He had more to his speech, but we interrupted him, and assured him that all of the eligible voters in the house (three, though my mother kept whining that she wanted to vote as well), had already cast our votes for Wendy Davis for Governor. We also told him that we were financial supporters of PPGT.
(For the record, I also cast a vote for Emily “SpicyBrown” Sanchez for U.S. Senator, partly because I like her Green Party politics, but also because I love the notion of “Senator SpicyBrown.”)
“Wow,” he said. “That’s great. Thank you.”
I could hear in his voice that he was tired, and maybe a little stressed. My neighbors may be full of holiday décor awesomeness, but when it comes to politics, my neighborhood skews red. Really red. Really, really, really red.
I’ve worked for PACs and non-profits before, when I was in my twenties, as I assume this guy was. I know how hard it is to knock on strange doors, and make a pitch. As much as I think doing so on Halloween, when people are already willing to answer the door, was inspired, I was also concerned for the kinds of responses he likely got.
As he turned to go, I stopped him. “You deserve serious chocolate,” I said. “Happy Halloween. Go, Wendy!”
He smiled, the expression that much more striking because of the orange glow of jack-o-lanterns and Halloween lights.
“Thank you,” he said. “I love you.”
We watched him move down the walk and out to the street, making the trek to the next house on the block.
As he disappeared into the darkness, I couldn’t help but think that among all the tiny superheroes who came to my door begging for candy, among all the tiny Spider-Men and Batmen (including one little girl who had a tutu over the bottom half of the costume and assured me she’d get the witch ‘next time’), this guy, this polite young man sporting a button reading, “this is what a feminist looks like,” was the bravest trick-or-treater of them all.
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