A better Costume


Jan Morgan-Swegle


I love the fall. Leaves change colors, the air is crisp, and the heat of the summer is blown away by cool breezes. Fall is shorter days, new school shoes, and Halloween. I was widowed in my early twenty’s and suddenly was a single mother. My daughter and I made our way in the world, but not without a lot of help. Part of that help came in the form of some of my co-workers.

A number of us were either single and not looking for a relationship or were single parents from a variety of circumstances. As a group, we grew closer because of those circumstances and often went out on the weekends together. One of those weekend group outings happened to be on Halloween.

The moms in the group skipped the costumed drinking parties and opted to take our children out trick-or-treating. A few of the men in our group decided to go with us as long as they got “a cut” of the candy! So out we went, with strollers, bags, and dressed up children. We marched up porch steps and encouraged our collective children to join us in saying, “Trick or Treat,” and “Thank you” for every piece of candy they received.

We took pictures destined to hang on our refrigerators to capture the memories we made that night. We admired cut-out pumpkins and smelled the fragrant aroma of burning logs from fireplaces in the neighborhood. We were an eclectic group: black, white, men, women, and all sizes of children. One of the men in our group was a technology programming genius. He wasn’t married and recently moved to our city, so he was happy to be included in our activities as our agendas were to have fun, not fix each other up. He was very tall, had a full beard and long, shoulder-length hair. He always wore a poncho, no matter how cold it was outside. He had what people referred to as “bubble eyes” that were kind of creepy until you got to know him.

As the night wore on, the younger children were tired of walking up steps and carrying their bags of candy. The group invading illuminated porches grew smaller and smaller until there were just two moms, two little girls, and the “programming guy.” We got to what would be our last house, and our little girls were just too tired to get any more candy. They sat down on the sidewalk to rest.

The “programming guy” didn’t realize that we weren’t behind him as he bound up on to the porch and, in a loud voice, said, “Trick or Treat!!!” The homeowner came to the door and looked at this lone man on his porch. He stared at the poncho, the hair, and the eyes and said, “Look buddy, Halloween is for kids, aren’t you a little old for this and aren’t you ashamed of yourself for taking candy from people when you can probably go out and buy some of your own?”

The “programming guy” looked around and realized he was alone. Anticipating how silly he was going to look up there all by himself, the other mom and I hid by the bushes in front of the house with our kids, snapping pictures and laughing. The homeowner closed the door and turned off the porch light on the poor ”programming guy” who was starting to understand what had happened.

My daughter pointed at him and asked me, “If he’s done getting candy, can we go home now?”  The “programming guy” came down the steps and said to us, “Well, thanks, that guy thinks I’m an idiot.”  My daughter looked up at him and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get you a better costume next year.”

And to me, she whispered, “Mommy, what is an idiot?”