Fifty Four.

That’s how many pumpkins we’ve got at my house this Hallowe’en.

I carved eight of them myself. The annual pumpkin party was a great success and I’m so glad Marilyn has hardwood floors up there, because even though she hollows out the pumpkins before we start carving, the open spaces in 54 jack-o-lanterns means there’s a lot of pumpkin pulp on the floor. Marilyn spreads plastic drop cloths, and they get most of it, but things are still a little…pulpy on the floor when we’re done. Oh, and since Marilyn insists we carve each one on both sides, that means even more debris.

She claims we carve each one twice “so we have something to look at”, but I’ve watched her. She gets as much fun watching the trick-or-treaters discover the double-carved pumpkins as she does watching them charge up the steps in the first place, then startle at the battery operated spooks, skeletons, ghosts and ghouls. The really little ones, she warns. “Oh, be careful, there’s a ghost coming up,” and nods to the parents, who make sure to laugh and point out that the ghost isn’t scary.

In related news, my house smells of bleach. In several moments of weakness, I told some of my students about our Hallowe’en extravaganza, and I think some of them might come to see, judging from the looks of excitement on their faces. “Fifty pumpkins?” “Well, there might not be exactly fifty, but pretty close. A lot, anyway. ” “No, ten pumpkins is a lot. That’s way more than a lot!”

So I got to thinking that they might want to see where I lived, seeing as I go to their houses to tutor, eat food provided, and use their bathrooms as needs must. What they know about me, variously and as a group: I live with E, who is a musician. My house is 100 years old. I have a lot of books. I have been learning to crochet.

And then I noticed the state of my house. Granted, the carpets are being cleaned in two days, but I still

-vacuumed
-changed the bag when I saw I wasn’t vacuuming anything much
-vacuumed again
-cleaned the bathroom (they might have to pee)
-vacuumed and bleached the front window frame and sill, which were beginning to get a little moldy
-bleached out a couple of spots where there appeared to be mold forming (basement suite, old house, I have to keep on top of these things)
-moved E’s dresser, discovered that that was where the moldy smell in the bedroom was coming from. Bleached the hell out of everything around there
-washed the ornaments that catch the sun in the front window

It comes to my attention as I peruse this list, that I am an appalling housekeeper.

Also, if prevailing weather conditions hold, no one will even bother coming here. It’s too damned rainy.

Samhain

I can’t go to sleep yet. The Hallowee’en partiers are still way too evident. Firecrackers explode every few seconds. Drunken laughter echoes along the street.

Hallowe’en is always a big party time. But why that is the case is maybe a mystery and maybe a combination of things.

1. September’s over. The time of renewal, of the unknown, is over. Students know what their classes hold and can let off a little steam because they know there’s some leeway in the rest of the year. Teachers have the year by the coattails and are going to do their best.

2. Masks. Hallowe’en marks the time when we can be who we ‘truly’ are, or what we want to present for the time being. Why are there so may sexually enticing girls in angel costumes, or so many guys who find a reason to wear a superhero cape (or a jailbird outfit)? I remember my landlady’s pumpkin carving party last year when her friend Mac trolled the party wearing a full mask, holding a (rubber) bloodied knife. His dad was in an advanced state of Alzheimer’s at the time. What better way than to meet Death on your own footing, than to become Death itself?

3. There is the basis of the day ( holiday?) itself. Samhain, the old Celtic New Year. When the fabric between our reality and the reality of the Otherworld is thin enough for some spirits to pass through. Have the spirits possessed us? They may have. Some revellers will wake up on All Souls’ Day (Nov. 1) and think. “What was I thinking?” In other words, “What posessed me?” Maybe Spirits. Maybe just spirits.

It’s a mystery.

Indelible Snobbery.

I am a snob. Today I had a big day planned. I went to Brentwood mall, because it has an IHOP, and because I wanted to get a jump start on Christmas shopping.

The snobbery didn’t prevent me from accomplishing my goals, it just made me realise how seldom I now go to North Burnaby these days. (Not that everyone from N. Burnaby is in any way like this, Cheesefairy, because I know you’re not, but I think you might know the type of woman I mean.)

For one thing, I actively recoiled when the woman in front of me(who looked like she’d tried to achieve the Tammy Faye Bakker look , circa 1988, for about fifty bucks-including hair frosting and perming, and makeup) in the Ricki’s lineup turned to me and said, “You know teenaged girls, they’ve got receipts all over the floor!” I used to speak to women like this on a regular basis. And never, ever flinch.

First of all, she was frightening for me to behold. Clearly, me and my delicate sensibilities need to get off our butts and out of the West Side more often, because the protective shell I had? Gone. Second of all, she looked like she was about 60. She might have been the girl in question’s grandmother, but she referred to her as her daughter, several times. Thirdly, I am not exactly, ‘A Woman of a Certain Age”, but I really was puzzled for a second when it came to why she would assume I was a mother. Of anyone. Let alone, as she had implied, that my (hypothetical) child was a teenager. Is my hair that frumpy? Then, of course, I realised that as she saw me as a) white (and so, obviously, like her, duh,) and b) over the age of 30, and not in obviously professional attire, in that neck of the woods, I could very likely have a teenaged child. I was creeped out, nonetheless.

I very nearly laid my purchase down on the counter and left. Luckily, I didn’t because it’s a fantastic sweater that (I feel) does not look the least bit maternal.

I hope.

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